Today was one of those days when it looked really cold and uninviting outside, quite enough to put you off going anywhere if you really didn't have to. But I felt I needed some fresh air. And yet I didn't want to go for a seaside stroll - that would be too face-searing by far! The answer: walk around an enclosed shopping centre. The danger: you might be tempted to buy something! The inevitable result: I did! A black padded knee-length winter coat with a big, cosy, padded collar. From Monsoon in the County Mall at Crawley.
Well, I couldn't help noticing that most women in the Mall were wearing either one of these padded jackets, mostly in black (black looked very smart), or their furry-hooded equivalent, a parka (also mostly in black). I was clad in an ordinary short coat - smart enough, but hardy the thing to keep one totally snug on a relentlessly cold day in late January, with colder days forecast. (So far, we've only had the odd short, light fall of powdery snow here in Mid-Sussex - no 'proper winter' yet)
So my aimless don't-need-to-spend-a-penny-really window-shopping suddenly became more focussed, especially when another lady sharing a mirror with me in Debenhams drew my attention to a superior-looking black parka by Phase Eight on the adjacent sale rail. It might have been made by Burberry themselves. I tried it on. It was certainly stylish; and a much better fit than the 'size 14' label might suggest. Usually however I need size 16, and sometimes even size 18. Well - as this lady thought might be the case - I could easily zip up this so-called size 14, and it certainly looked flattering. But my boobs felt squashed! The lady and her daughter commiserated at this, because the parka was otherwise a real bargain. There wasn't a size 16 on the rail. Tsk.
My appetite whetted, I looked in some other shops, and eventually found what I (by now) very much wanted in Monsoon.
Another sale item. £40 off the marked price! I had an idea that it would still be expensive, but to be fair to the coat I averted my eyes from the price tag, and tried it on. Hmmm, nice quality. And shaped, to give me a waist...not like a padded black sack. Fabric seemed substantial. Duck feather and down filling (Really? A bit like wearing a sleeping bag, then?). Elasticated fabric draught-excluders at each wrist...easy-running zip...stud fasteners that popped together easily, stayed fastened, but didn't need a knife-blade to pop them apart...nice clip belt. The collar would be luxurious against any driving snow. No hood, but I already had a black fur hat from five years ago that hadn't seen regular use for much too long. It would go beautifully with this coat. I asked another lady shopper what she thought. She was thumbs-up on it.
The price? £129. Which would come down to £89.
Ninety pounds though...
Well, this purchase would fill a gap in my wardrobe. I had two long woollen coats by Windsmoor, but they were too posh for a beach walk. And they flapped open in a strong wind. I had nothing specifically for warding off howling gales and driving snow.
I thought of my Senior Railcard, and waiting for trains on bleak platforms. This coat would keep me snug.
I thought of many times to come, when I'd love to go for a cliff or beach or woodland walk on a sunny but bitterly cold day. This coat would keep me comfortable, and encourage me to take that exercise.
I thought of early-Spring caravanning, before the rising sun had done its work. Those early-morning forays to the water tap, or to the shower block. This coat would keep me warm and cheerful while out in the chill air.
So be it.
And here it is tonight, hung up on a spare hangar in my bedroom:
It's very hard to make an interesting photo out of a black padded coat! Not having an hourglass figure, I decided to fasten the belt behind my back, and not over my belly at the front. As the coat is shaped, I still get the suggestion of a waist, and of course big childbearing hips! Can't wait to test the coat out in a stiff breeze. Maybe tomorrow.
The money side didn't work out too badly in the end. I was £35 ahead of my monthly budget - meaning I'd underspent so far by £35, and had this in hand. So the hit on my savings account was really only £50 - this for a new coat from Monsoon, that ought to last me for years. Standing back - taking a cosmic view in fact - it was surely a Good Buy.