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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Perfect Jean Jacket

A slightly stiff, white, jean jacket.
A jean jacket is a statement piece of clothing.  I have had four jean jackets in my life.  The first I bought in high school, from the Salvation Army store in East Providence, Rhode Island.  I spent my clothing allowance for the week on this one article, $15.  My entire clothing allowance (which had to cover all clothes except my uniform, any expenses related to using the car, my long distance phone bill, spending money and lunch money) equaled most of the other girl’s lunch allowance. 
I started working early. 
My jean jacket was cool, peace, love, waterbeds kind of cool; I knew it. It was soft and worn and looked great with mini skirts and maxi-dresses. It had an unknown provenance, but it lasted for years.  I gave it away in my late twenties when I was hitting my stride professionally.  My “hippie” look was retired.
My husband bought me a jean jacket when we were back-to-school shopping with our children about fifteen years ago.  I was reminiscing about days gone by and saying, “Do you remember my jean jacket?”  Yes, he said, “I liked it over a bathing suit.”  I laughted somewhat embarrassed that I had ever worn a jean jacket over a bathing suit. At the Outlet Shops, we split up so I could shop with the girls for a while and he went on with our son. When we reconvened, he said nothing, just handed me a bag.  Inside, a Ralph Lauren denim jacket. I broke it in over a period of time. It fit perfectly with just a thin tee shirt or a cotton blouse under it.   
At one period of my life, I was feeling mousey and plain. I asked my friend, Lisa, who has a spot-on sense of style for help.  I extended a small budget and a credit card to her. Two weeks later, packages started to arrive. In addition to my purchases (mostly from Boden, the fit is great for me) my friend augmented my outfits with some little worn pieces from her own closet.  Lo and behold, she gave me a blue denim jacket she no longer wanted.  It was larger than the one I already owned. I loved that I could wear a sweater under the newer one.  The jackets may have been similar colors, but the style and fit were wholly different.  I wore them both frequently.
The day came that I felt compelled to weed out my closet because I was short of space.
I played eeny, meany, miney, moe.
Ralph Lauren lost. I felt I could wear the larger one with more outfits and on more occasions. Lisa's jacket has come to take on my shape and I feel like I am embraced within it whenever I wear it.
About two weeks ago, my friend, Kathy, gave me a white denim jacket from Talbots.  I don’t shop at Talbots often, so I was surprised how well the jacket fit my dimensions. Long arms, skinny body, perfect.  The only drawback?  The denim is such good quality that it does not want to relax. I have washed it six times, used non-chlorine fabric bleach and still it resists softening.  I googled “How to break in a jean jacket.”  Here are the suggestions I gathered:
Wash it, put it on wet, wear until dry.
Wear it and jump on the bed for 1/2 an hour.
Wear it for three or four days, do not remove.
Wear it, roll on bed for 1/2 hour.
Tie the jacket to a rope, throw it out the car. Hold on to the rope, dragging the jacket behind the car for about 500 yards.  Wash.
I have tried variations on the first four suggestions.  I am loathe to drag it down the road.
I want the jacket soft and body conforming, not dirty, stained and ruined.
The jacket is a bit softer to the hand. Tthe threads are slowly beginning to relinquish their rigid stance. I can sense some newly-gained pliability when I put it on.  One friend said to me, “If you believe in God and the Easter Bunny, then you are  apt to believe that your jean jacket will become as special as your cherished jean jacket from high school.” That was food for thought. Maybe there is truly hope for my white jean jacket!   After all, I am a believer. 

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