Why Canadians opt for the same grim black coat every winter

19 Nov 2019 6:58 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)


Have you bought The Winter Coat yet? Make haste. Do you really think that the global heating that last week dumped a sheet cake of wet snow onto cities where serious leaf raking has yet to begin means that you can postpone the most important yearly ritual of Canadian life?

If you look at your serious winter coat and think “She’ll see me through another one,” you’re postponing the inevitable. You are relying on the mechanism behind the news photo of people lining up on Bloor Street for the unveiling of Eataly, basically a dressed-up food court at Bay and Bloor to whom I wish the best of luck.

Male and female, they were wearing the drab uniform of a Canadian winter: black pants, black coats and a grim expression.

In our black Canada Goose parkas and endless puffy jackets, we look like Maoists, a police lineup, street-wandering Raskolnikovs pondering our recent murder. We look like Soviet-era Russians lining up for bath plugs and rotting beetroot. On the subway we are androgynous and indistinguishable.

These are statement coats, the statement being “I give up.” There are reasons: road salt stains, black being so washable, black still chic though in circumstances other than this (parties, not parkas), doesn’t show the dirt, and nothing in the stores except you-can’t-go-wrong-with black.

I have a serious black Winter Coat, an oversized neck-to-ankles monolith in the kind of wool that the maker Piacenza says is combed with special thistles, very possibly in an Italian hilltop village where the church bells ring with every bolt sent to market. “These are fabrics where the architecture of their structure reigns supreme, of standing out for their extreme light weight and of answering the calls of modernity,” or so the Piacenza people say.

It’s so thick and heavy that I could send it over empty to line up at Eataly for me.

I bought it back when I was flush. It is battered now, as are we all, and has at best one more year. But that’s what every Canadian says in November, faced with shopping for a new coat, which is easily as bad as buying a bathing suit.

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