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The Chanel Coat I Didn’t Buy

Before I get all emotional, I’d just like to preface this with the disclaimer that I don’t normally shop at Chanel (except for lipstick or when someone else is footing the bill), nor do I buy things just because of a brand name. I’m the anti-bling. I love quality, but I hate labels and logos.

 Then I met this coat…

This is how it happened. I met up with a friend for lunch and window shopping in Passy, a chic shopping area in the 16th arrondissement. We were just checking out the new season’s collections, also scouring the final sales racks (nope, nothing left there). We were at Franck et Fils, a small department store, and I spotted these fabulous gold quilted ankle boots.

Another disclaimer: I didn’t actually take this photo myself (I don’t want my camera ripped out of my hand and smashed to bits).


They’re Burberry, but that didn’t matter. They could be Tati for all I cared. I just wanted them. And I’m thinking, all high on shoe pheromones, that they’re probably €400 and I’m going to buy them anyway. But noooooooooo. They are €700. So no cool gold boots for Heather this season (unless Zara does a good rip-off version, that is). We’re feeling a tad, well, financially challenged, so we decide to go a few blocks away to Réciproque, a dépot-vente (resale/consignment shop) on the Rue de la Pompe.

We were hoping that all of the diplomats’ wives and other Ladies Who Lunch in the 16th may have cleaned out their closets before leaving for the holidays. I was browsing the Céline purses and Hermès scarves while my friend tried on black leather biker jackets…then I saw it across the room, hanging from a hook on the wall, still in its clear plastic dry-clean bag.

It just looked like a pretty white trench coat, and possibly in my size (I have very narrow shoulders, so coats always make me look like I’m a football player with huge pads). Upon closer inspection, it’s calf-skin leather, never worn, and it’s Chanel. And it’s indeed my size.

And it’s only €1800.

Now, I say "only" in the context of Chanel, not "only" in the context of my bank account (the car I own only cost me €1500, to give you an idea). I go and grab my friend to show her this fabulous find. She convinces me to try it on (and shoots a sneaky pic):

And it fits…

So at this point I’m not even thinking about dry-cleaning costs, the fact that I wouldn’t be able to wear it when the temperature drops down to freezing in winter, or all of the other things I could buy with €1800 (like 2.5 pairs of those gold boots). I’m thinking of me owning a Chanel coat. I’m thinking about the fact that my current winter coat is 8 years old. I’m thinking of my upcoming birthday. And I’m thinking, "How much cash have I got on me?"

(Answer: not even enough for a down payment)

Of course I could pay for it with my debit card (I don’t have credit cards anymore), but there’s something that makes me reluctant to leave a paper trail when I know I’m buying something I shouldn’t (omigod I’m becoming French after all). The nice ladies at the counter assure me that the coat will go fast. After all, you can’t even get a tiny Chanel clutch for €1800, let alone a coat. But they agree to hold it until the next day, when I promise I will be back with a huge wad of cash.

Back home, I start thinking about all of the things that I could buy instead…like a whole dang fall/winter wardrobe, for €1800. I send the photo to every friend, in town or not. Photos of me in this coat, with accompanying anxious "should I or shouldn’t I?" messages (I’m a Libra, what do you expect?) were sent to various arrondissements, Burgundy, the Côte d’Azur, Greece, California, and Toronto.

BTW, don’t ever expect a French man to curb your spending on fabulous fashions. "You look very sexy in that" is the exact kind of comment that had me ready to cross town with aforementioned wad of euros (in the rain, no less). Thankfully, the Chanel pheromones couldn’t reach me all the way in the 13th arrondissement, so the advice of my more level-headed friends finally sunk in, and I decided to let the coat go.


I hate shopping, so when I will get back out there to find something more reasonable to purchase instead of a white leather Chanel trench coat, I have no idea. I always see great things when I’m giving tours, but when it’s my own wardrobe, I can never find a thing that I like (or that fits). Maybe I should just suck it up and do the most obvious thing: hire a personal shopper.

Stay tuned… 


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  • You couldn’t take the Euros with you, but you could actually be buried in that coat! Go back and get it.

  • Ahem, you didn’t solicit my advice, your Libra friend, but I would have said GFI! OMG, I’d kill for a speck of Chanel…you’ll always have a chance at replenishing the Euros but how often does a white calfskin Channel pass into your life?? Sigh. Just wasn’t meant to be, I s’pose…

  • You do look fabulous in that coat, Heather. At least you two had a moment together, which is more than either of us can say about Chris Cornell.