Earlier this week I talked about the marching band/military jackets from Balmain that have become the Fashionista uniform lately.
(It's okay if you hate the jeans. I hate them, too. I'm very attracted to the shoes, however.)
These things are all the rage right now, but I would like to point out that Marc Jacobs did this look quite a while back. Fall of 2002, to be specific.
I would also like to point out that I did it long before Marc Jacobs...
This is an actual band uniform from Southwest Texas State University. (This school has undergone several changes in name, so based on that and the materials I can date the jacket to probably sometime in the early 70's.) I found this in a vintage shop eons ago and have been wearing it ever since. This? Is definitely one of the pieces in my wardrobe that raises a few eyebrows, but I never cared. I love this thing. And when Jacobs showed his version a couple of years after I got mine, I was the Very Definition of Smug.
To start with, it's beautifully made of a really heavy wool twill -- it's a great coat for cool weather. The silhouette is very sharp, and it is nothing if not eye-catching. You may have already seen this jacket if your read the fabulous Wendy B's blog, but I don't think I've featured it here before.
When I bought this, it had the original pants that came with the uniform, which have since disappeared goodness knows where, and it also had a huge rope of gold braid that looped through one of the epaulets. Dunno where that is, either. Which is fine. The gold braid is a wee bit overkill.
Of course, some folks think the entire thing is a wee bit overkill to begin with and to them I say, "Ppppppffffttttt!" I love this jacket and I always have. Yes, of course, people call me "Sgt. Pepper" when I wear it and no, I don't care other than to pity them for being unable to come up with anything more original to say.
I'd say I bought this jacket more than ten years ago, but here's one I've had even longer than that:
This is a Naval Academy mess jacket that I inherited from the costume shop of the theater where I went to college.
It is a beautiful thing made of heavy, sleek black wool and I have had it for a very long time -- I acquired this while I was in graduate school, so it's been with me since roughly 1987 or so. The head of our costume department figured it was unlikely she'd ever need to use it -- it's pretty small -- and when she saw how much I loved it she very generously handed it over. (A note to aspiring actors: being able to sew is a very useful skill in this field. It makes it possible for you to occasionally pop your head into the chronically understaffed costume shop and nonchalantly ask if there's anything you can help with. This will result in two things: 1) your costumes will always be finished before final dress, when all the other actors are still safety-pinning themselves into their corsets and 2) the odd fantastic piece of vintage or custom clothing will trickle down to you because you are such a nice, helpful, and available person.)
Only the most churlish among you will not admit this is a fantastic-looking little item. Look at the seaming on the back:
Gorgeous. I've been wearing it all these years with the sleeves rolled, but I think it's time to take it in to the tailor and get them properly shortened. It deserves no less.
And so, while Fashionistas around the globe are swooning for those Balmain jackets, I'm feeling very blasé about the whole thing. Been there, done that. And for waaaaaaaay less than $11,000.
One more thing. These jackets are further proof, if you needed it, that if you see a garment that speaks to you, that makes your heart leap, you should get it. Whether or not it's on trend or in style or all that jazz -- if you love it, get it & wear it & keep wearing it. I had no idea 20 years ago that some shaggy French guy was going to create versions of my jackets that would drop magazine editors to their knees in worship, and it wasn't like I hung them in my closet thinking, "One day these will be in style." I just loved 'em. I still do. And when those Balmains are popping up in re-sale boutiques all over New York, I still will.
Photos: style.com, Style Spy