April 2001

I took my green tweed sport coat out for a show and dinner on Saturday. It seemed to be the least I could do; we’ve been together now for many years, and I am not sure how many more good times we’re going to be having. My mother bought the green coat for me when I was in high school. I weighed just 100 lbs then and stood 5′ 6″ when I wasn’t ducking erasers.

About 25 years after graduation, I wore the green coat to a meeting with a client who made suits for a living, and he said, “That jacket, that’s a classic.” He knew the name for the style, dated it to the year, and commented on the timelessness of the cut and the durability of the fabric.

The coat may indeed have magical properties. I grew three inches in college, but the coat still fits. I have gained 50 pounds since I first slipped it on 38 years ago, and the coat still fits. I must confess, though, that it’s getting a little snug under the arms and I don’t think this is from working out. I think it has something to do with my diet, which is high in fun.

But I have a solution, thanks to my most trusted sartorial adviser, Terry Johnson of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Rather than chiding me about Cheetos and foamy amber refreshments, TJ has instead opened my eyes to the comfort and flair of bib overalls. And I have taken his message to heart, because whatever magic my green coat possesses, it has not rubbed off on my pants. With every Lands’ End order, the waist size climbs. I now await a pair of 34-inch chinos with the childlike anticipation I used to reserve for Christmas gifts.

For that reason and more, I can assure you that it is a pleasure to come home and slip into bib overalls. This is the feeling of freedom. (This is probably what a sun dress feels like too, but I don’t think I can carry that off.)

I got my bibs here in Skaneateles at Roland’s, an Aladdin’s Cave of flannel shirts, wool sweaters, fragrant stacks of new denims, straining racks of bullet-proof dirt-brown Carhardtt work jackets. The sales lady climbed a chair and flipped through a pile of overalls on the top shelf, and then said, “I think I have your size at the Homer store.” My heart leapt with the added rural cachet of Homer. And one week later, I was resplendent in my new purchase at the dinner hour. Just before dessert, Abbie observed that I looked like a farmer. “Why is that, darling?” I asked.

“Because you’re wearing bibs and eating everything on the table.”

But there is more to bibs than comfort or the ease of clean-up when rising from the sofa after a bowl of popcorn. To please the eye and make a statement, TJ accents his bibs with surgical scrubs or Aloha shirts. This being upstate New York, I am sticking with flannel shirts for the time being, but would like to experiment with white shirts and ties in the workplace. And I have to decide what to do with all the pockets and loops. Pens? Pepperoni? Overalls open up so many possibilities. Right now I am wondering how they will look with my green sport coat.


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