Tip No. 1: Buy a well-fitting peacoat from J.Crew.
“Or wait until Christmas sales are raging and buy a designer one, like John Varvatos or something. Black looks good on everyone (Obvious Cops) and matches everything (Duh Police), but charcoal gray is good, too. You can always look like a put-together Obama speechwriter with a classy peacoat. Oh, and get it cleaned once a year. Sounds prissy, but a good cleaning can return a peacoat to its true-black luster, and make you look as snappy as you did on the first day you wore it.”
J.Crew is only just starting to open branches in Canada. Regardless, I bought a single-breasted Jonathan Robert peacoat in 2009 at a men’s clothing store in the St. Laurent shopping centre in Ottawa. (For all I know, Jonathan Robert is Varvatos’ mutant half-brother who in between manufacturing coats builds model suburban neighbourhoods out of crackers in the attic he’s being kept in.) I’ve never had it dry cleaned – or anything else, for that matter – so I brought it over to Busy Bee Cleaners on Commercial. I also had them repair a torn seam in the lining. New to the dry cleaning world, I experienced a small thrill when the employee flicked the switch that made the huge garment conveyor belt bring my coat up to the front, like it had just won an award. For best coat.
Anyway, it looks good as new. Peacoats are simple, elegant, classic. The coat was one of the first real adult clothing purchases I made, in the wake of nabbing a government job. Previously, I’d been wearing a hand-me-down that was super warm, perfect for Ottawa winters, but that made me look like a giant blueberry. A good coat is hard to find.
Rachael writes: “I love, love, love your Mindy Kaling challenge. I don’t really agree with her suggestions, they seem kind of shallow, but like you said, it’s a fun project anyway.” I suppose I should clarify that I’m starting with the appearance tips first, the “out” part of the “inside and out,” which take up about half the list. The remainder is all humorously particular things about how to behave with women. They’ll be fun to discuss, if nothing else.