Miracle on 34th Street … Finding My Perfect Fall Coat

I’ve been fall coat shopping. For a while now. I needed a coat for those fall days when it’s a bit too cold for a blazer, and not yet cold enough to haul out the winter coat. I want to delay that  event as long as possible. Because once the winter coats are out of storage….they tend to stay out for months… and months.
A good coat has long been part of my wardrobe philosophy. Years ago, before I started teaching, when I was working as a pharmaceutical sales rep, I realized that if I had a great coat I didn’t have to worry much about what I wore underneath it. Because it rarely ever came all the way off. I’d perch on the edge of a chair in doctors’ offices talking quickly and wielding my fancy, colourful, statistical charts, squeezing my sales pitch into the three or four minutes before the doctor had to get back to work and pitched me out the door, metaphorically speaking. There was definitely no time to take off my coat. I learned to wear good boots, a black skirt, a blouse, often with a tie at the neck to make a scarf unnecessary… under a smart looking coat. Good coats aside… I hated that job. The most important thing I took away from that experience was not to be seduced by the offer of a shiny company car ever again. How much crap doctors have to listen to from sales reps in order to get the drug samples that they can then hand out free to patients who many times can ill afford to pay for them. And the importance of a good coat in looking pulled together and, in this case, professional.

So, as I said, I’ve been looking for a new coat for some time. Of course I did my research. Started a Pinterest board for coats. And kept coming back to slim, polished looks like these. I’d settled on either tweed or camel. The tweed coat on the left is Bruno Cucinelli whose clothes I would love to own… if I could afford them. And the grey tweed on the right is by Max Mara, which is a bit closer to my price range, but still more than I wanted to pay. I found both of these coats at MatchesFashion.com. You can see them here if you want to have a look.
  Bruno Cucunelli tweed coat on Matchesfashion.com  Weekend by Max Mara tweed coat on Matchesfashion.com
So on I pressed. I looked in several stores, over several separate shopping trips here in Ottawa with no luck. I admire the kind of casual, louche look of these Max Mara coats below from Max Mara Weekend Collection. But they’re just too much coat for me. Now that I’m retired, my day is similar in a way to when I worked in sales. Not in the sense that I’m annoying doctors and pitching prescription drugs, but in the sense that, when I go out for the day, whatever coat I’m wearing tends to stay on most of the time. So I want it to be comfortable, not too tight, not too heavy to schlep around the mall, and not so long that it will drag on the ground when I’m getting in and out of the car. And I want it to be a coat that I love to put on. And not black.
Weekend by Max Mara coats on US Max Mara website
When my friend  and I were in New York, I looked at coats in just about every store we entered. I shrugged coats on and off while she patiently held my purse and jacket. Most of them were too cheap, or too expensive. Ha. Prada… I wish. Too skimpy, or too long and bulky.
I finally found a coat on our last day. At Macy’s. I hadn’t even planned to shop at Macy’s, I mean seriously shop. Of course we planned to visit Macy’s; neither of us had been before. And it is, reputedly, the largest department store in the world. And around the corner from our hotel. So how could we not? As we rounded the corner in the Max Mara Weekend section, this little fuchsia herringbone tweed number called to me. “Really? Fuschia?” I thought. Fat chance.
 fuchsia herringbone Weekend by Max Mara coat, Cole Haan boots, Holt Renfrew leather trousers, Vince turtleneck
But I tried it on. And it fit me perfectly, even the sleeves. Sigh. And once I had it on, I loved the colour. I’ve never owned a bright coat. And not since a dusty pink hand-me-down coat when I was eight, have I owned a pink one. Well, actually this fuchsia coat is as much burgundy as pink, so, pinkish. And why not buy a fuchsia coat? Why not indeed? I love it here with my grey Vince turtleneck, and my leather trousers.
The two sales ladies at Macy’s, Marie and Barbara, were wonderful. They even wangled me 30% off when my attempts to get 40% off by applying for a Macy’s card went down the tubes. It seems that in order to establish that you have not committed identity theft, Macy’s take your cell phone number and text you a confirmation code. Well first off, my cell phone was back at the hotel charging. So Barbara put the coat aside and Elizabeth and I hurtled back to the hotel to get it. Then when Marie called upstairs to do the confirmation thing all over again, I was told that the application could not be processed because, according to “their records,” I was not the owner of my cell phone. Huh? “Was it in my husband’s name?” I asked. She didn’t know, or wouldn’t tell me. Just that she could not process the account. Damn.
I almost walked away then. But uncharacteristically I asked Marie what they could do for me. I mean it had been Barbara’s idea to apply for the account and get the discount when I balked at the price of the coat… in American dollars… which, trust me, makes a significant difference for a Canadian. So they got on the phone and, miracle of miracles, I suddenly had 30% off. Ten percent is standard at Macy’s just for being a “visitor.” Not sure how they wangled the other twenty. But I leapt at the offer, paid for the coat, and hustled it back to our hotel room. And second miracle of miracles, I even had enough room to fit it into my carry-on luggage and not even have to check my bag.
When I was messing around earlier this week to see what went with my new fuchsia coat and what didn’t, I liked it best of all with this outfit. My black leather pants, black boots, my Massimo Dutti white blouse, and my burgundy scarf loosely draped around my neck. You see, this is exactly what I wanted. A simple, well-made coat that I could just pull on and look good.
fuchsia herringbone Weekend by Max Mara coat, Cole Haan boots, Holt Renfrew leather trousers, Massimo Dutti white shirt, Nordstrom wool scarf
And since this is the season for layering. And I am at a point in my life where the body temperature is still a teensy bit unpredictable, I need to be able to take off layers as well as put them on. And still look good. Yep, taking off the layers is key. Like when you’re sitting in a crowded restaurant. I plan to wear this in a couple of weeks when I have lunch with a bunch of ladies I worked with years ago. Our so-called “To Hell With the Bell” lunch group.
Cole Haan boots, Holt Renfrew leather trousers, Massimo Dutti white shirt, Nordstrom wool scarf
Then I want to be able to reverse the process when I go back outside. Without having to fuss with cardigans, or tying scarves in complicated arrangements. So I’ll simply pull on my beautiful coat and toss that scarf around my neck with insouciance. Hopefully.
fuchsia herringbone Weekend by Max Mara coat, Cole Haan boots, Holt Renfrew leather trousers, Massimo Dutti white shirt, Nordstrom wool scar
Meanwhile, the day I took these shots, I swapped the leather trousers for jeans. And the boots for my Stan Smith Adidas… how fortuitous that they have burgundy trim. I was heading out to try to find the absolute last thing on my fall shopping list. Black ankle boots. These five year old Cole Haan boots are looking a little down at heel. Ha. Bad pun.
So that’s my story of how I miraculously found my perfect fall coat on 34th street. And I’ll leave you with a clip of my favourite scene from the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street. I love that movie. And this scene where “Mrs. Shellhammer gets hammered” is one of my favourite scenes. Hope you enjoy a chuckle when you watch it.
I have a feeling that my American friends are in much need of a good laugh.


Now it’s your turn folks. What are you shopping for these days? Is a good coat as important to your wardrobe as it is to mine?


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35 thoughts on “Miracle on 34th Street … Finding My Perfect Fall Coat”

  1. I love the colour of your coat! Maybe it's just my computer monitor, but it doesn't look fuchsia to me — a little more muted and mauvey. (And if so, it's one of the colours that I love to wear.)

    My winter coat choices usually emphasize function over fashion … whatever will keep me warm when I'm on yard duty at school and being pummelled by the winds off Lake Huron!

    Denise L.

    1. The coat is actually called "fuchsia" and it's pretty much that colour…maybe a bit deeper & closer to burgundy. My camera was having difficulty adjusting to the changing light in my sun room, though. I tried to play with the shot to make it more true to colour…but then monitors are all different too.

      Ah yes. I remember yard duty…back when I did a lot of supply teaching at elementary schools. Thank goodness we didn't have yard duty in high school. But then again cafeteria duty was not fun either. Food fights being quite common in the 90's. Sigh. So glad I'm done with that. Except for when I toss the occasional dinner roll at Hubby:)

    1. Thanks Sue. I'm so glad I found it, and didn't go for grey or charcoal. That would be too much like a coat sweater I already own. And it's nice to have some colour for a change.

  2. Funny you should write this tonight…I just received my first try-out, try-on winter coat! Not too heavy but enough to keep me warm when a long sweater will no longer do and before a real winter coat is necessary. Down here it's not that cold for that many days…but there are numerous days when a lightweight coat is needed. So, this first trial coat is from Boden. Awaiting another one from Garnet Hill next week. I think I like this one, but not sure! Aren't you lucky that you found the perfect coat on your trip: it looks wonderful on you!

    1. Oh gee, that sounds like a good way to shop. Are these coats to be reviewed on your blog? Or just on-line shopping? I generally like what I've seen of Boden… just pictures on-line, though…not in real life.

  3. I love your coat-one has to have fun with coat colour from time to time (I had a kind of pink coat -rose ashes- about twenty years ago-it was perfect!)! It goes great with black,grey,white,blue….and I'm sure you'll find a lot of outfits 🙂
    I'm still sorry for Weekend Max Mara coat in orange red two years ago-I could't make my mind and than it was gone. My coats last for years.
    This kind of coat,with a blanket scarf and a hat, could be enough for almost all winter months here (especially for us who drive)-I have a puffer coat ,too,but sometimes it stays in my closet for the whole winter
    Max Mara and its brands: Marella,Weekend MM, Max & co,Marina Rinaldi and Persona(for plus sizes) have very good quality for money,they are usually made of natural fibers and have their stores here,which is very important for me. They are expensive (it was exciting story of your shopping experience,I could imagine :-),we have only sales twice a year,no codes …) but they last a long time
    I agree with you,the coat is very important,you spend a lot of time wearing them,more than anything else

    1. I have two other Max Mara coats… both years old. They are very well made, and don't lose their shape. But since one is black and one kind of a bronze-y brown… fuchsia makes a nice change.

  4. Phew , I'll come out now . Nothing like a little chat about politics 🙂 Lovely coat & you can't beat Maxmara for me . My newest coat is one of theirs . I never wear pink but I do wear this colour whatever it is , orchid , magenta , crushed raspberry ? The colour really suits you & it's a perfect fit . Great souvenir of NY & a reminder of your trip . I have a coat almost identical to the black & white tweedy one on the right of your pics . Margaret Howell – from her local end of line shop , I hasten to add . Winter coats are worn for a long time in our climates so we need quality & some variety . It's a long winter if you only have one black coat .
    Wendy in York

    1. I had intended to get black/white tweed…but then thought the fuchsia one was a bit different for me. And the price was right at 30% off. I like what I see of Margaret Howell on-line. If I'm ever in England again I must look for her brand.
      P.S. That was quite the convo on the old blog earlier this week…I agree.

  5. Love it! That's quite the story behind your purchase. And, what wonderful ladies to try so hard to get you a discount. Now when you walk around this long, cold winter you shall stand out in the crowd in your beautiful fushia coat amidst a sea of black.

  6. Fabulous coat. I am so in agreement about black coats and. of course, there are black coats and there are black coats. I am sure you know what I mean. However, it's hard to find a coat that isn't black.

    1. You're right, of course. I have a black coat that I like…but it's years old now. I haul it out to wear when I need a dressier coat, but otherwise it stays in the closet. Not casual enough for my life most days.

  7. Beautiful Coat Sue. Fantastic colour …I like Wendy's suggestion of "crushed raspberry"I have a ski type jacket in a similar colour ..lovely to wear. Once again you've ticked the "versatile"box! 🙂 It'll go so well with lots in your wardrobe. ..I can even see it working in a more casual way with your new jacket with the detachable hood that you took to New York.
    Definitely worth the research and Congratulations on the discount!

    1. We're lucky enough to be still enjoying them Sue and the gorgeous weather.Getting ready to "layer up" when we arrive home to frosty weather towards the end of next week.
      I noticed on instagram that you've been cooking my favourite meal ..It looked delicious!

  8. I actually clapped my hands in pleasure at this coat, on you! Perfection! I love that it's such a classic cut (my girlfriend, whose husband is one of those specialists you once pestered with your samples case, had a grey tweed version of the same cut, and she called it, very tongue in cheek, her "doctor's wife coat") but in an unexpected colour. Also love that the unexpected colour is assertive but it doesn't scream for attention. Just perfection, really!

    1. Ah, thanks, Frances. I love the "menswear-inspired" look of my coat. But the fact that it's fuchsia makes it more fun.
      Gad I hated that job in pharmaceutical sales. I wanted to say to all the doctors I visited…really…don't listen to me…I have an education degree with a double major in Biology and English… which really only helps me be able to pronounce the hard medical words….I don't have a clue what I'm talking about. It was difficult doing a job where I did feel like an annoyance, and which had no socially redeeming attributes. At least when I annoyed kids in the classroom I knew it would benefit them in the long run.

  9. Unanimous approval it seems. Love your coat. It's a gorgeous colour and great shape. Well wear. Iris

  10. Your coat is wonderful…it fits you and your personality beautifully! Here in northwest Oregon, it is not cold enough (for me) to justify an autumn coat (other than a rain coat). Thank you for posting the scene from Miracle on 34th Street; it gave this American the good laugh that I so needed!

    1. Thanks, Leslie. Glad you enjoyed that clip. Let's hope things down your way can get back to normal this upcoming week. I'm even feeling stressed about the outcome… must be hard for you and your fellow voters.

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