Here’s Something I Like (Not that Anyone Asked): My New Carhartt Jacket

Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!

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New jacket, same me

In case you’ve been living under a rock or have never read my column before (because you’ve been living under a rock), I recently sold all my clothes on Poshmark. Well, not all, but like half, which is still a lot! It’s been a liberating and eye-opening experience, one that has helped me realize how little I actually need and, even more surprisingly, what I don’t have but actually do need. One thing I’ve needed for years but have never purchased myself is a good spring coat.

Until now, bitch! About a month ago, I found myself with a little extra money in my pocket for the first time in a long time and decided to buy the spring outerwear of my dreams: a classic Carhartt flannel-lined jacket. My obsession with this coat began as all my sartorial fixations do: I saw a woman in my neighborhood wearing it and thought I need that. Though I’ve long appreciated Carhartt jackets, I’ve always thought they were too masculine for my petite frame, but this woman was wearing a fitted version in a shade of deep burgundy. She looked feminine and cool as hell, and thus began my mission to procure the very same jacket so that I could emulate my role model: a woman I saw for a split second in passing last fall (I’m easily impressed).

In truth, I’ve always had a thing for Carhartt. I grew up in the kind of rural place where people sport workwear not to make a fashion statement, but out of necessity. While I certainly never worked construction or a landscape job (though my sister did spend one summer working as a landscaper and lost so much weight I went crazy with jealousy), Carhartt was what the people I knew wore, so I wanted to wear it too. Whenever I accompanied my father to the local lawn and tractor, I’d wander the clothing aisle fondling all the sturdy canvas pants and overalls. By the time my brother started driving me to the lawn and tractor so we could buy big yellow rain suits for skiing (which were trendy at the time amongst us racers for their practicality, since in the hills of Western Mass we often found ourselves skiing in the rain. I thought I looked very cool in my rain suit until one day, when I was late for a start and couldn’t get my overalls off over my boots. A boy who up to that point had been my enemy helped me take my boots off, strip down to my GS suit and buckle my boots back up just in time. I kept wearing the stupid suit), Carhartt was having a cultural moment.

I was in middle school then and decided I needed a pair of worker pants in the brand’s classic tan. Not to date myself but this was the 90s, when the best way to display your sex appeal (something I didn’t yet have) was to hide your body under as much clothing as humanly possible. So when I found the exact pants I wanted on a trip to Provincetown for my sister’s softball tournament (lol), I (my mom) bought them (for me). I think they were a men’s size 34 since at age 11, I already had birthing hips (I was fat). The pants didn’t fit right since they were made for men and I was at the height of my childhood chubbiness, but I wore them anyway, rolled up several times, of course, since I was still under five feet tall (I’m now a full inch over, not to brag).

I wore those pants for years and kept them through high school, but unfortunately threw them away during some long ago cleaning spree. I’m sure they’d fit me even more poorly now than they did back then, so it’s probably good that I can’t be tempted to wear them, but every once in a while I think they might still look pretty cool.

But when I really think about it, the idea of people sporting workwear for fashion rather than function isn’t cool — it’s pretty fucking annoying. Since I purchased my beloved new jacket, I’ve wondered once or twice if wearing it makes me a poseur, but the truth is that after nearly a decade in corporate America, I now have the kind of outdoor job that requires workwear. I’m a writer and comedian a.k.a. dog walker, so I need sturdy, warm clothing that can withstand some dirt. I learned long ago to wear my oldest, most beaten-up pair of sneakers on the job and recently dedicated an old pair of jeans to walking dogs since they’re always jumping all over me with their (adorable) muddy paws. I usually wear my big black down comforter coat to walk dogs because it’s already covered in mud and dog slobber, but it’ll soon (hopefully) be too warm to wear it so I need a lighter option. Plus, biking is my preferred mode of transportation and I’ve often found myself wearing up to five layers on cold nights in lieu of a proper jacket. (Can you tell how hard I work to justify my purchases?) All of which to say, this is how my wild idea of looking fly in a Carhartt jacket transformed into my realization that I need a Carhartt jacket.

I’ve worn my new jacket a lot since I bought it and I expect to wear it even more over the course of the next month or two as the weather improves. It’s warmer than I expected, but not too warm, you know? It’s heavier than the big brown leather jacket I friend gave to me a couple of years ago, but lighter than my down coat. It’s flexible enough for me to move and work in, keeps me warm but doesn’t make me sweat while biking, and looks cute enough so that people who see me walking around in it probably think I am some trendy poseur sporting workwear as a fashion statement which, when I really get down to it, is exactly the look I’m going for.

I’ve been in New York for nearly a decade, after all, and haven’t lived in my hometown for much longer than that, so it’s a stretch to act like Carhartt is still my birthright, especially since my dad has always preferred Dickies. Still, I think taste is formed at a young age, so while I’ve never actually ridden my dad’s tractor or chopped wood or gone camping (or even glamping), I’m still in many ways a woodland creature.

But I’m also a creature of the city, one who gets all her fashion inspiration not from the male laborers of my youth, but from the trendy as hell career women I see walking around my chic neighborhood. And who knows — most people in New York come from somewhere else, so maybe they grew up wearing Carhartt too? Or maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe a warm, functional jacket that looks good is just that, and maybe it’s every woman’s right to stay warm and look hot in menswear? Maybe she’s born with it — or maybe she doesn’t overthink the class implications of a piece of clothing? All I know is whether or not I’m “allowed” to, I’ll be wearing my new jacket for years to come (long after I, hopefully, stop walking dogs that don’t belong to me) and I’ll look and feel fucking great.

As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares about my new jacket. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, Carhartt or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!

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