Featured photo: The Midtown Leather Coat (Pexels)
I call it the Midtown Leather Coat: Black, of soft, almost buttery leather, three buttons with two side pockets and a notched lapel. The men’s version comes down just low enough to cover your ass, the women’s version just short enough to reveal a glimpse. Hardy enough to withstand a brittle, sidewalk wind; layer it up with a sweater and a scarf and it can hold up to the worst of the city’s winter. It looks good with jeans or slacks, pairs well with gold jewelry and sunglasses.
And in 1994, virtually everyone in the New York Metropolitan Area, including most of Connecticut and New Jersey, had this coat. By the year 2000, the Midtown Leather Coat had gone nationwide.
Things moved slower in the ’90s.
I didn’t have one then — I lived in Louisiana, where we didn’t wear coats — but I have one now. It’s a Gordon, meaning that it was once in the possession of my dear, departed Uncle Gordon, who in 2016 left this world too soon. The jacket, along with a couple sweaters and shirts, eventually made their way to me.
I wore the Midtown Leather Coat today, along with a plain, black dress shirt — a Bob, meaning that it was once my father’s. I don’t know that he ever wore this one. Feels like it’s never been washed, and the collar tabs are pristine. But it was still in cardboards when I found it, which means it dates back to a time when my father sent his shirts out to be laundered every week; they came back starched and folded around cardboard, stacked in boxes, ready to be deployed into the professional world. It’s been waiting for more than 10 years for me to take it out and put it on.
Bob’s tuxedo, I know, has been in dry-cleaner’s wrap since the 1980s, when it was last worn, probably on New Year’s Eve. There was a red cummerbund and bowtie, too, a little red pocket square that’s really just a piece of cardboard with a bit of folded silk glued to it. Removing Bob’s tuxedo from the cellophane and paper was like unwrapping a mummy. Freed from its bindings, looking sleek and black and new, the jacket fit perfectly, ready for a whole new life.
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