Outer wear to wear out

It was Thursday. A special Thursday – Valentine’s Day – February 14th. The couple had tickets to go and attend a live show in the heart of Toronto. Instead of having to deal with the outrageous afternoon homebound traffic, he and she had decided that taking the train would be the most convenient, and less stressful, way of commuting downtown. They stood in the front hallway of their domicile and were ready to don their winter coats and prepare themselves for the blast of the cold air that would hit as soon as the door opened. Indecisiveness hit. She was in a quandary as to which coat would be best for this trek.

Her big, white, shin length coat was warm and it had a hood, which would be ideal if the predicted rain was to arrive. However, it was also inconvenient in that it would take up a lot of space in the theatre where this coat would be placed beneath her to sit upon. She had a lovely red peacoat, but it didn’t keep her very warm and it was a 20 minute walk from the train station to the theatre. Looking good was important, for appearance sake, but staying healthy took priority. She did have a nice leather jacket, but there was no hood and odds of rain were quite high. Bringing an umbrella was additionally cumbersome, hence the idea of wearing something with a hood.

Then she saw it. Her latest wardrobe addition. She had bought it on sale at 50% off and it fit wonderfully. It was waist length, but incredibly warm, and it did have a hood. She grabbed the grey puffy coat, put her arms through the sleeves and zipped up the jacket; warm already.

“Ready?” she asked her husband.

“All set,” he replied, as he put on his spring jacket. He just never felt the cold the same way she did. Lucky bloke.

Off they went. They drove their car from their hometown city to the neighbouring city that housed the train station. They found a convenient parking spot and headed toward the front door of the station. After purchasing their tickets they headed underground to find the correct platform from whence their train would be departing.

As she walked on beside him, she suddenly felt like she had entered a parallel universe. Everything seemed the same as when they had first took the stone steps into the underground, but then it had also changed.

As she walked on toward the platform she noticed them all around her. Some were black, others were purple, and there were some bright red ones too. There were pure white ones, and some off white or more beige ones. Some were long while others were short. Some had belts. Some had hoods. Some had both belts and hoods. In the end they were all the same or related in some way. Man, woman, child…all of them in this underground pathway seemed to wearing one. Had she stumbled upon the land of the puffy coats?

The first time she had heard those two words “puffy coat” was while she was listening to the radio and there was an advertisement about these puffy things being on sale. In her mind’s eye she pictured something like the Michelin Man would wear. In truth, she was not that far off. When she saw a commercial for these garments on television it seemed that this was the inspiration for this new line of clothing.

“Ridiculous,” she thought. “Why would anyone want to be a live version of the cartoon tire guy?” Why indeed?

She considered herself a pragmatic and stylishly dressed woman. Since cold weather seemed to be around the majority of the 12 months, it was important to be dressed warmly, but it was also important that she looked smart and polished. She had at least 9 designated winter coats and another 3 mid-fall to pre-winter jackets. The winter coats were made of heavy polyester/wool mix and were quite heavy. They were warm, but quite cumbersome. The leather jackets were stylish, but leather did tend to take awhile to draw out the warmth that her body craved. Chattering teeth were not attractive on anyone. The faux fur jacket looked great, but the wind whistled right through it. Finding the perfect garb was a yearly adventure.

As years passed, the transition from heavy winter coats to the “Michelin Man” wannabe coats seemed to become the dominant style in every clothing store. One day, for a lark, she decided to try one of these pillow-like garments.

As she slipped her arms into the sleeves, her mind pondered how fickle fashion could be. These silly puffy coats seemed pragmatically useless for winter weather. Then her mind registered the immediate warmth that was contained inside this jacket as she zipped it up. How could that be? The wonderful fluffy garment was also light as air. She felt liberated from the usual constraints of the old wool winter coats. It was incredible!

She felt something scratching at her neck, so she unzipped the coat to see what it was. There was a paper tag from the manufacturer, but there was also a small bag, made of the same exterior polyester fabric, with a drawstring. She saw a picture on the paper tag that showed how to roll up the coat in such a way as to be able to pack it away into this small sack. What? You could roll up the entire parka to the size of a coffee thermos? How incredible! Oh wait…there was more writing on the back of the tag; washing instructions. What? It could be washed? No more dry cleaning after every winter. These puffy garments were brilliant!

So, here she was, on this Valentine’s day, wearing her grey puffy coat (not her purple or blue one. Yes, she owns three now) in the underground, feeling nice and comfortable, stylish, and incredibly warm heading to the city centre to see a wonderful show with her Valentine’s Day sweetheart. Even downtown, the citizens wandering about were also comfy and cozy in their version of the overwhelmingly popular puffy coat. At the theatre, she rolled up her coat and used it as a nice lumbar support and sat happily throughout the show. As predicted, it did rain that night. She smiled as she donned the puffy hood onto her head. Comfort, style, warmth. What a wonderful trifecta of fashion.

Although she didn’t usually jump onto the fashion trend train, the puffy coat was one she was happy she had transitioned to. She was debating actually trying some of the others: lace up jeans, faux fur sandals, platform Crocs. Then again…maybe not. There is fashion, there is function, and sometimes (or oftentimes) fashion failures. For now she would stick with her puffy coat…the perfect outerwear to wear out.