To confirm that I am nothing if not hypocritical, I completely overturned my “I don’t need anything new in 2020” fashion mantra last week and bought a fetching faux fur leopard coat.
I was walking along my local high street when I saw it in a shop window. It had been styled on a mannequin with jeans, boots and a camel sweater, a vision of casual chic.
I was wearing COVID-19 activewear, buying bread as per usual. Didn’t I need a shot of glamour as opposed to carbs at this point?
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I have harboured a secret love of leopard since I was little girl. My mother alongside all her Frank Sinatra albums, a 1960’s Peggy Lee record called Sugar ‘n’ Spice.
On one side Peggy was photographed looking angelic in pink satin, on the flip side, she was a femme fatale in a leopard outfit with a red lip.
Grrrrr. I knew which woman I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wore a few slightly ragged vintage leopard swing jackets which I picked up at various op shops and markets during my teens, but I’ve mostly used leopard print as an accessory.
I love a leopard ballet pump. A leopard scarf is an essential.
A little leopard cardigan is also heaven, Fifties rockabilly style, like the fab ones Wheel and Doll Baby used to sell. I’ve had leopard silk shirts, and leopard handbags over the years, and I finally graduated into my first really grown-up, luxury leopard purchase.
It is a black wool jacket by Dries Van Noten which has leopard faux fur cuffs, a stand-up collar and leopard silk lining. It’s very dramatic, old Hollywood, and one of my favourite pieces.
But weirdly, leopard can also be weirdly tacky. I couldn’t work out whether the coat in the window I was chic or shabby?
Was it sending off a sassy Nancy Sinatra vibe, or echoing Nancy Spungen, the drug-addicted stripper girlfriend of doomed Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, who stabbed her to death in a sleazy New York hotel.
Unsure, I ventured into the store and slipped it on. It felt like a ridiculously soft plush toy.
It was 100 per cent synthetic, and – my goodness! – I had better not walk close to an open flame. But it was sooooo cosy and comfy. Clothes you could happily sleep in are high on my personal agenda, so I decided to lash out.
I came home and showed my husband. “Nice” he said, which translates as ‘I couldn’t care less’.
I wore it to a girlfriend’s for dinner and handed it to her at the front door. “Oh, it’s gorgeous, I love it” she enthused, being the same age as me and knowing all the words to Peggy Lee’s Fever.
I then wore it to a party held by another friend in her early thirties.
She didn’t mention my new coat until I pointed it out, and then she said, with a barely concealed grimace “Oh, I was wondering about that. It does look, um…. cosy?”
She meant cheap.
But then one of my sons saw me in it. “Don’t you look great?” he said approvingly. “And you feel so nice to hug”.