Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Formative Moments in Fashion History: Leather Jacket

Inspired by Dave Chapelle’s “Great Moments in Hook-Up History," in which he recounts memorable tales of sexual escapades, I present the second post in a series of “Formative Moments in Fashion History.” I am often asked why fashion means so much to me and how I can justify dedicating my career to what many deem a trivial pursuit.  I hope to articulate why I’m abnormally distressed about who will be Karl Lagerfeld’s successor at Chanel and how I can justify spending my weekly paycheck on an “investment piece” by bringing you a series of influential moments that have defined my perspective on style, the fashion industry and what they mean to me.

Read any style blog about wardrobe “must-haves” and you’re bound to (Kanye, see what I did there?) find mention of a leather jacket.  And for good reason.  It’s an incredibly versatile piece that toughens up an otherwise feminine look and not to mention just exudes cool.  So let me tell you about how mine came to be.
The leather jacket makes an appearance on the Paris metro next to a pair of boobs.

It was 2006, and I was developing an online shopping addiction.  It had all the usual symptoms: incessant monitoring of my shopping cart, weekly FedEx deliveries and memorizing my mother’s credit card information.  Most of my purchases were small –an orange Lacoste sweater (on sale!) here or a pair of Minnetonka moccasins there.  But then there was the leather jacket.

Despite being fully immersed in my preppy stage –currently nothing but a drawer full of Ralph Lauren and Lacoste polos to show for it- I was immediately attracted to a black leather biker jacket full of zippers.  It was See by Chloe, a diffusion line of the storied French fashion house, and on sale on Saks Fifth Avenue (If you haven’t already picked up, I’m an avid sales shopper).  Like my must-have Dior bag, I withdrew money from my savings account to cover the price of the jacket.  Seriously, I have my grandparent’s birthday presents to thank for a substantial portion of my wardrobe.

And when it came in the mail, I cried.  Literal tears.  At about $500, it was the most money I had ever spent on a single item of clothing, and I simply could not justify its price.  My mom walked in on me crying and had to console me. 

“Do you like it?” she asked.
“I love it,” I whimpered in between tears.

She not only convinced me that the world was not going to end because I bought an expensive jacket but also taught me the value of an investment piece.  Often used to justify outlandishly pricey but classic items like the Chanel 2.55 flap bag, Van Cleef and Arpels earrings or a Burberry trench coat, an investment piece is just that: an investment.  Sometimes referred to as cost per wear, in which you essentially disregard the list price in favor of the price per wear, an investment piece makes financial success because of its durability and timelessness.  It won’t break down after one season or sit disregarded in your closet like those gaucho pants you had to have in 6th grade. 

Now eight years later, I have probably worn said leather jacket upwards of 100 times, making each wear less than $5, considerably less expensive than the J. Crew sweater that I had to have but have only worn twice.

So, let me hear it.  What's the most you've ever spent on fashion or the best investment piece you own?

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