The arduous journey of finding the ideal black jacket ends (quite happily) with: Nicholas K.

I am not sure why, but finding the right black jacket is incredibly difficult.  Months of scouring, neck-breaking work, really. And diligently sifting though a WHOLE LOTTA UGLY is not easy, I'm telling you!  Even ModCloth, with their 500+ styles of jackets, coats and assorted outerwear, failed me.

I made it a bit more difficult for myself, I admit, because I had something very specific in mind:
  • Short, hitting just at the top of the hips.  I have to be able to move around in it, you know what I mean? I have had it with long coats, seriously.  They totally get in the way of everything and feel much too formal for anything I ever do.  I have one long black wool coat (I call it my "opera coat") way back from my East Coast days and I can count on my fingers how many times I've worn it.
  • Bomber or motorcycle style.  I decided that the ubiquitous peacoat styles are not for me.  Warm they are, but it's hard for me to wear one without being tempted to wear tennis shoes with it, and thus look frumpy.  Not to mention they have to be impeccably tailored, and most mass-market merchants just aren't that good.
  • Mid-weight. I already have this giant puffer jacket with a huge, dramatic collar from BCBG for the coldest days (and the aforementioned "opera coat."  I actually go to the opera more often than one would expect from a cheapskate like me.  But that, of course, is because one of my good friends used to work at the LA Opera and throw me free tickets so I could act as a "seat filler."  Of course I would show up, in true LA fashion, in my jeans.).  And yet living in the Bay Area means a simple cardigan or cotton jacket simply won't do.  Basically, I need something to replace this natty Patagonia fleece (which I got for free, from work) I've been wearing all the time.  I mean, it's a good jacket, but only if I'm going hiking or doing something equally active.
  • NOT leather.  Prefer wool, cotton, whatever - as long as it's relatively easy to maintain.  Is it too much to ask for a bomber jacket that is NOT made out of leather, or leather substitute?  For real!
  • Some interesting detail.  This is probably the hardest criteria of all.  When it comes to jackets, there is a deplorable wealth of mediocrity out there.  Everything looks the same, that is, b-o-r-i-n-g.  So I kept my eyes open for some interesting thing - a cool collar, an interesting cut, an asymmetrical zipper, artfully arranged buttons.  When it comes to stuff you're going to wear every day, I say go big or go home.
Enter Nicholas K, who I think has made the most perfect collection of outerwear in existence, in his Fall 2009 line.  

His dresses and tops I wasn't such a fan of, but every piece of his outerwear collection is utter perfection, from the shape and silhouette to the slouchy, casual but still luxurious materials.  They are the incarnation of everything I've ever dreamed of in a coat, or a jacket, or a sweater cardigan.  It's like Nicholas K has a direct psychic connection to every whim of my brain.
Check out the rest of the line here. There's a LOT of pieces, each one of them unique and delightful in their beautiful little details, masterful cuts and natural styling.  It's the kind of clothing I could totally live in, if I were rolling around in money.  Because no, they are not cheap.  I first encountered the Kepler jacket, on a chance Gilt Fuse sale where they were going for $115 (down from $300 retail), but one second of hesitation cost me the purchase and they were sold out like that * snap *.  It was everything I was looking for: fabric, short, cool foldover collar, asymmetrical zip, ribbed hem and cuffs.  It was, in a word, perfect.

But of course, having found the perfect jacket, I had to be patient and bide my time.  I found the jacket at exactly one store, a quirky boutique called Petulia's Folly in Philly.  At the time it was on sale, but still too expensive ($229).  So I sat on it for a few weeks and sure enough, tonight I found they slashed the price down to $150.  I knew the time had come and I had to pounce.

And so, this little girl is one lovely black jacket richer.
5 responses
after helping me on my jacket(s) journey, this is certainly well-deserved! :)
I enjoy the way you write. I can't wait for your next article. And thanks for the great coat hook up! You have a good sense of predictive style!
@sushi man, what a saga! I can't believe you got THREE jackets in the time it took me to find ONE that worked. Now that I have my 'everyday signature' jacket though, it should not be hard for me to catch up with the "accessory" jackets. Plaid argyle teal and yellow here I come!

@Jillian thank you so much! Your posterous is quite cool as well - I'm enjoying the illustrations a lot =)

There is certain timelessness about bomber jackets that has kept them in fashion for decades. Because of popularity, fashion houses keep making the vintage-style black bomber jacket, and top fashion designers keep creating new versions which they flaunt in new collections all time.

hi viz bomber jacket

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