and hood for the worst of the Minnesota mornings, I do need to own a basic
nondescript coat for those basic nondescript days, a regular old coat like
regular people wear. The coat I have been using for this purpose had gotten
pretty sad by this season, so the day its zipper became fully inoperable (it
had been partially inoperable for a while) I went off at lunch to the Burlington
Coat Factory, where I'd never been. I needed something to tide me over until
I decided what I really wanted here.
"Ah, this is where straight guys buy their clothing!" I thought. I had found
the secret cave of the style-free. Bulky acrylic sweaters patterned in white
and mixed shades of blue. Strangely-textured oilcloth down coats from China
with removable sleeves. Ill-cut sports jackets in stiff fabrics.
It took some looking, but I actually found a jacket at a reasonable cost that
suited my purposes, a basic quilt-lined canvas/duck coat with a corduroy collar
in an interesting shade of khaki-green, almost grey. It even had some nice
syling details The only problem was a stupid leather one-inch-square patch right
in the middle of a front pocket with the maker's name, but I own a seam ripper
and I know how to use it. Deal done, one-stop shopping. As it turns out,
I like this coat more and more as I wear it, and I'm not even going to look
for something else. I got off cheap and easy.
On Sunday night as I was leaving two-stepping at Lee's Liquor Lounge and saying
my goodbyes, my sweet friend Carl said, "Look, Steven has a nice new coat."
"Yes, it's new, but it's just a coat"
"No, it's not. Look at this." He held the zipper up, and read, "Carhartt"
I gave the baffled-hands gesture. "I was going for a coat that would call no
attention to itself. What's Carhartt?"
"It's very trendy right now. All the gay boys are wearing it."
At this point I thought Carl was having fun with me, so I pointed to the small
unfaded square on the pocket and said, "If I'd known that, I wouldn't have
removed the label." Carl assured me that this was true style, to wear a trendy
label garment but to remove the label. I laughed and strutted out the door.
Then this week in two separate places I read about Carhartt jeans being the
current uniform brand for trendy gay guys. I had never heard of the brand,
and suddenly the name keeps coming up. Evidently Carl was not joking.
For all I know it's just the jeans that have the cachet, and the rest of the
line still indicates its utilitarian work-clothes origins. But I seem to
have stumbled onto the latest gay thing, not only by accident but despite a
conscious attempt to walk in the other direction.
So what's the deal here? Has anti-fashion become the new fashion?
You can see a picture of the coat in a much less interesting color here. Evidently
my coat ended up at the discounters because the color has been discontinued.