I was wearing velvet on the day I met my last love.
I was wearing velvet on the day our city fell.
I wear velvet every New Years’ Eve.
I wear velvet on every Birthday.
I’m not sure if that makes velvet my personal blessing or my curse. But I do know that velvet is mine. It’s my fabric. It’s always there, ever present as the chapters of my life roll over.
I also wear velvet during simply The Everyday cos let’s not pretend that life is not just The Everyday 99% of the time.
Velvet is rich and soft, warm, majestic and opulent. It always comes in lush orchard tones of burgundy, plum, magenta, emerald and gold. I can pick up a 1970’s velvet blazer for $3 in a local Vinnie’s and feel like a baroque painting, like a Chelsea Hotel waif, like an upgraded luxury model of myself. Style supersized.
These $3 blazers, I keep constantly in rotation, and have never been without one in my wardrobe for over a decade. I’ve worn out so many over the years. But the funny thing is that I only ever find one, that fits, in the op shop, or the jumble sale, just as my current one is getting bald on the elbows, and the silky lining has ripped and shredded all the way through. Somehow my next one knows when to appear, like a gift from the vintage gods. So maybe they are my blessing.
When I am wearing velvet, I walk in the shoes of Jarvis Cocker, of Nigella Lawson, Nick Cave and Marie Antoinette. My heroes, my crushes, my Queens.
Velvet is just very much up my alley. I think something so bold calls for strong feelings. Either velvet is for you, or it isn’t. You have to have an opinion on it. Like everyone does about olives or blue cheese. There is no grey area. And when you find someone else who feels the same, you instantly feel a connection and want to claim them as Yours. Maybe that’s why I fell for my last love, so quickly, on that day, cos he was wearing velvet too. He was a peacock in turquoise velvet, and myself in claret red -like a heart…or blood.
Last week I was in a favourite, local, vintage store, quietly, slowly, leafing through the racks of the fabulous – fur stoles, sequinned mini dresses, Russian ice skating costumes – running each fingertip over the lengths of each item – for I feel that touch is one of the most important senses when it comes to clothing treasure hunting…I can’t describe it, but often you just KNOW when you touch something if it’s meant for you. I’m not sure if it’s simply thread count, or energy of the lives lived within the garment, like textile Reiki.
Either way, so often, your touch alerts you to the potential that lies within a garment, way before your eyes ever will. Something you overlooked with your glance, suddenly sparkles as soon as you feel the weight, softness, and quality of a cloth.
The other day I was doing just this, passing my hand from leather, to fur, to polyester, to viscose…when my skin brushed against my best friend, my beloved – my velvet.
Not only that but it was the softest, most gentle, comforting velvet I have ever touched.
And as my eyes caught up, there, before me, was a mint-condition, golden-olive, 1950’s velvet coat. Large peter pan collar. Chunky round buttons. Heaven.
So often vintage sizing and body shapes of yore mean that much of what the good vintage shops hold, will not fit my luxurious, strong, frame. And when I saw this coat, and it’s ‘M’ label, I assumed it would not be for me. For a vintage ‘M’ is usually a modern NZ 10. However, I recalled all the times that velvet has come to me, out of the blue, and been with me at important times, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I should give it a go. Maybe this one is meant to be.
I slid it on over my arms, across my shoulders…it fit. Not only did it fit, but it fit like it was made for me.
This 60-year-old coat, when put on my body, felt like it had always been mine, since the day it was made. No. Longer. Like I had lived three lives in this coat. Seen wars, witnessed history, loved and lost and kissed and danced and cried and walked through the snow in Paris, and golden leaves in Central Park. We’d lived it all, together. Like it had been with me, on me, all that time. It was never anyone else’s coat. It was my coat. Mine.
Of course, it was not cheap. But for what it was. How it felt. It was also a bargain. Such history, at such a price. A one-off chance to own something so perfect. There was no question it needed to be mine. Even if it means eating nothing but toast for the next two weeks.
Besides, for all the $3 blazers that have passed through my wardrobe over the past decade, there has never, ever, been a coat like this.
Maybe it’s a sign. An omen. Of things to come. The next chapter about to be lived whilst wearing it.
The romantic in me thought that perhaps once whatever story – be it adventure, experience, love or loss – that is destined to be lived in this velvet, has eventually presented itself, I could write it on a piece of paper and sew it inside the lining, like in the Phantom Thread.
Or. Maybe it’ll just be a very nice coat that will live The Everyday with me. We’ll be like one of those satisfied, content, old couples, you see strolling through the gardens. Just comfortable together, enjoying the peace of the every, mundane, routines of life.
In which case, maybe I’ll just sew these very words into it. For this is still a love story not to be sniffed at.
DRESS: LADY V LONDON (HEPBURN)
SHOES: SALTWATER SANDALS
COAT: VINTAGE VIA ETCETERA