Taking On The Mantle

The weather here in the Bay Area is not the idyllic Californian sun that many people think it is – in fact it can be downright c-c-cold. There was frost in the hills today, for example. OK, so not ice storms and driving winds, but cold enough to warrant a proper overcoat. So once again I was on the hunt for piece of clothing that no-one seems to sell, my exacting tastes (or “fussiness”) causing me grief yet again.

I have an old raincoat from the UK, which is looking a little tatty these days, and it also doesn’t have a hood. This was very important – I hate using umbrellas. I hate using them, carrying them, remembering them, and struggling with them in the slightest breeze. In addition, I hate the way some people carry golf umbrellas while walking on the sidewalks. They’re not designed for that – they’re too big. They poke people in the eye, and they’re the equivalent of the SUV on the road: a big bullying “I’m dry so screw you” antisocial thug.

So anyway, I needed a coat with a hood. There’s plenty of those around, but I wanted something I could wear over a suit. I could get any number of waterproof hooded jackets from the sports store, but they wouldn’t go over a suit. They’d either be too short, so the suit coat would protrude – very bad – or they’d be inappropriate colors, or have a big logo on them. I can’t understand why men’s raincoats don’t have hoods. I’d love a good Burberry raincoat with a functional hood, but it just seems not to be the way they’re designed. Tradition? Women have it easy – several of my female colleagues have overcoats that I would love a male version of.

I searched around for a possible candidate, but for a long time I had no luck. I was hoping for something with a collar and hood arrangement a little like this:

The Man Who Fell To Earth checks out a light.

The Man Who Fell To Earth checks out a light.

…but that’s more like a duffle coat, with toggles on the front, and made of wool so it wouldn’t be waterproof. Not exactly what I was after.

It looked more and more like I was after a parka of some kind. I have no problem with that at all, after all, another source picture was this:

"Is it me for a moment?"

I like the combination of the suit with the parka. I don’t ride a scooter any more, but I do like that look a lot. Better than Sting in the same movie.

Finally I looked at the Eddie Bauer website, and found the Port Townsend Commuter Trench, which seemed to fit the bill. EB is a bit “elderly”, and certainly very outdoorsy, with fleeces and down jackets. But this particular model checked most of the boxes – at least enough of them. After looking around some more, and not seeing a better choice, I ordered one (they’re not available in the stores). I chose black, because I tend to choose black for most accessories like this. It was also available in grey, but the problem with artificial fabrics in grey is that they just look grey – there’s no heathering or texture to it.

It arrived a few weeks ago and I’m very happy with it. It’s a little on the chunky side, with its zip-out warm lining, but it’s really been good these past few days waiting for the bus. I tried taking the lining out, but then it was just a very thin layer, which didn’t keep me warm and didn’t do much to stop the wind.

The hood works fine. It packs away into the collar, but I tend to leave it out. The collar is a little on the stiff side because of the zip, but I don’t mind that. The combination of that, the artificial fabric, and the dystopian urban dreamscape in which I live, makes me think I look like this:

Mantles and Lids: The Originals by Dave Gibbons

A man can dream can’t he?