Privilege Blog

Why I Didn’t Buy The Gorgeous Chanel Jacket

I read, on the blog Rock the Silver, a post distinguishing between Hunter and Gatherer shoppers. Hunting means searching for a certain item, with focus. Gathering, means, well, gathering. Whatever you happen to find. How about you? I find that some things I hunt, other things I gather. Take, for example, shopping and hair days.

This Saturday, I went to San Francisco to get highlights and a haircut, browse (the modern word for gathering) Gumps for pearls and Murano glass, and hunt for khakis. On my way up Highway 101, I got the call that my guy had called in sick. Too late to turn around. I could have let the news wreck my day. But why?

I got to the city. Turns out the salon had moved to a larger space. Noisier. I could have let that wreck my day too. But why? So someone else cut my hair. In the noisy space. It was fine. I was elated, with swingy hair. I recommend glazes, by the way, for a little extra shine.

Then I ate lunch. At a place where you pay huge sums of money to get exactly what you want. That’s their menu above. Just taking a breath costs $6.50. Eating is more. I had swiss chard with roast tomato aoli.

And mussels in cream.

Oh my god.

I ate them in the kind of reverent hurry that good food deserves. Sat back, wiped my mouth with the cloth napkin, almost humming with happiness. Then I went shopping. Sort of. I browsed Gump’s pearls. They are so gorgeous that just looking satisfies my cravings. I don’t need more pearls in my life. Then I asked a saleswoman about the Murano glass doves. They don’t carry them in the store. I could have let that wreck my day. But why?

Back out on the streets of San Francisco, hunting for khaki. Gap has abandoned their heritage. And besides, the store in downtown smells of retail death. I skedaddled. Banana Republic, despite their signs that say, “Live In Chinos,” has stretch khakis only.

I do not want my khakis to stretch. Dress pants, good jeans, yes, please stretch, for optimum fitting and corralling of various body parts. For casual clothes I want the obdurate fit of woven cotton. Unmoving around my hips and baggy on the legs. In fact, I want to channel Katherine Hepburn, in disciplined khakis and a white shirt. Confidence, insouciance. Stretch pants are perfect when perfect, but terrifying in failure. They optimize, but they also shift, anxiously, they crawl into places they don’t belong. One could not fight off crocodiles in stretch pants.

I happened, finally, upon the Chanel boutique. Oh my god.

A gorgeous navy tweed jacket in the window. Classic shape, minimal fringe. (I’d show it to you, but apparently it was too special to have its picture taken.) I’ve been wanting to replace my old black and white houndstooth for ages. So I girded my loins and reapplied my lipstick. Even High WASPs have to reapply lipstick when entering a Chanel boutique. Especially if we know we probably won’t buy anything. (Remember, you just have to look as though you could, even if it’s only a look in your eyes.) The saleswoman informed me, with a certain glee, that my size was sold out. All across America, apparently. The gray version of the same jacket was lovely, and could be mine for approximately $5500. I say approximately, because after the number 5 I heard no more.

Were I still a visible executive, I’d have bought it. I’m a big believer in spending for beauty and impact. But this would have hung in my closet for decades, worn 3 times/year. Beauty, no impact.

I walked back to my car, drove home. Beautiful day. No rain. The sun shone on San Francisco bay in that way we almost take for granted. So much twinkling, so much slate blue. I walked in my front door, opened my laptop, got online, ordered the Murano doves. They remind me of a gold glass bird we had when I was growing up. I’m in the mood for whimsy. Researched Eddie Bauer (at Mrs. Lynch’s recommendation, thank you) and L.L. Bean khakis. Bean’s are stretchless. Ordered a pair for $39.50. Save money where you can, spend where it matters, abstain altogether from unnecessary purchases. Isn’t the Internet a great shopping safety net?

It was a good outing. Hunting for clothes, gathering time, seizing the day. I’ll let you know how the khakis turn out. What looks like Katherine Hepburn in one’s mind can turn out dowdy in person. Then you have to don your pith helmet and head back out.

43 Responses

  1. That was the exact jacket I tried on in Vegas and it took my breath away. Isn't it amazing??

    I'm glad you found your khakis. That Katherine-Hepburn-in-khakis-and-white-shirt image is indeed an inspiring one.

  2. Sometimes just knowing these clothes exist and are possible if you were to change your mind or have a change in life circomstances is enough.

  3. I'm with you on the Katherine Hepburn front – stretch khakis just don't work for me either. It's got to be the real deal and stylish to boot. Good to know that L.L. Bean has them. Lands End's new Canvas line also features the traditional khaki pants.

  4. Thank you Deja. I tried on your Vegas jacket? Great minds and all that…DocP, yes I did feel happy just knowing those jackets existed. JMW, if the LLBean's don't live up to my imaginary Hepburn dreams, I will try Land's End.

  5. I think just the experience of being in Chanel can be quite satisfying and lunch and a hair cut is pretty swell. p.s. We sell to Gumps so if you ever do like something there, please don't hesitate to ask :)

  6. Sounds like you had a lovely day. Your lunch looked delicious.
    Since it it such a nice day here today I think that I will walk up the block today and check out that navy chanel jacket…you know just to look and admire…not to buy.
    No hunting and gathering pre April 15th.

  7. I'm sitting here twitching – I'm sorry, that blazer cost more than my new furnace.

    I need a haircut, too. I just hate getting my hair cut.

  8. Sounds like a picture-perfect day. So glad you embraced the goodness and enjoyed it to the fullest!

  9. The jacket sounds so lovely! However, if it won't see the outside world more than 3 times a year, you were right to wait. Where is the pic of your fabulous hair?

  10. Sitting here munching on my cottage cheese and cantalope and I am drooling over your SF lunch! yum….
    Gumps, SF bay twinkling in the sun….and the reapplication of the lipstick, steadying the High Wasp as she strolls into Chanel, this is stuff that jumps of the page and speaks to me BRAVO!
    What color was the lipstick?

  11. Made me happy to read your Saturday adventures. I too have found out, that when I´m on my way to shop for something specific, it doesn´t exist. When I have the intention to not buy anything, I find something specific, it exists, and end up buying it.

  12. Sounds like a great day – and you even managed to get the Murano doves. Love your last comments about spending where it matters and abstaining altogther from unnecessary purchases.

  13. Hostess, the lipstick was actually a pink lip balm. I'm too sturdy to carry a mirror for real lipstick:). Jan, I hope I don't seem like too much of a jerk, given the jacket price. Back in the days of salary, I could justify those purchases. But it was partly rationalization. Truth be told, given how I grew up, luxury shopping is kind of like my comfort food, all kinds of emotional satisfaction. Even when I don't buy. Mary Jo, any further pearls are those earrings of yours:).

  14. But, what will keep you warmer in winter, a Chanel jacket or a new furnace?

    OK, so it's the furnace.

  15. I'm so glad you found your khakis… my favorite pair I found at J.Crew years ago before they too abandoned their khaki heritage…..

  16. I have just sent for the Lands End version and cannot wait for their arrival. Spring is in the air, and I am so excited see my winter wardrobe packed away to make room for more light and splendid fabrics.

  17. Remember when the Gap sold solid, well-made basics that would last forever? Yeah, they had to know that model wasn't good for repeat purchases. Now it's cheap, trendy crap.

    And remember when Banana Republic was a fun place to shop? With all that cool safari stuff? You felt as if you were going on an adventure. I miss the old Banana Republic and their fun catalogues.

    Jan, that Chanel jacket cost more than I paid for GRAD SCHOOL! And I went to a top-20 school! But hey – I love the free market. I love it when people buy that stuff and keep other people employed. I am all for luxury purchases and luxury purchasers and I am especially for luxury purchasers who tire of their purchases after a year and send them to the Junior League Thrift Shop where I buy them for $12. Long live Chanel!

  18. "Save money where you can, spend where it matters, abstain altogether from unnecessary purchases."

    LPC – couldn't agree. I am living those words. I am finding that because I now think much harder about what I buy, I value it more, however much it may (or may not) cost and that I actually USE what I buy rather than stowing it away for posterity.

    I love the birds and your lunch.

    Have a lovely day.


  19. Oh, the doves are beautiful; so glad you're getting them!
    I like the concept of shopping as Hunting and/or Gathering. I can totally relate to that. Just did some gathering in Manhattan last w/e. Thought of you when I got a lightweight navey houndstooth jacket…

  20. My husband is quite frightened at the thought of me being unsupervised in the posh part of the city!

    I cant wait to hear your thoughts on the LLB khakis – I find they are the hardest thing to buy :O( I can never find ones that fit the way I want them to!

  21. The doves are so pretty. I'm still very interested in how the khakis work for you. Other than lack of stretch, can you explain more what makes a pair of khakis right? Is the secret in the rest of the ensemble? Maybe I'm just worried because I work with a lot of khaki-wearers, and none of them are right. Ever.

  22. I think I go in with the intention of hunting and then I gather… so unfortunate for my wallet!

  23. Love that you ate such a beautiful meal alone. Love that you switched up hairdressers at a moments notice – and loved it. Love that you are living in the moment.


  24. Oh Miss LPC, what a blissful time it sounds like! From hair to mussels to pearls and Chanel, such a delightful way to spend one's day. This will sound quite odd, but I can almost smell the day, your description of it is that good.

    The line of the day for moi? When talking of the "… disciplined khakis…", that nails it perfectly. It's wonderful you found some you like, the Spousal Unit has tried a pair of Bean's and is very pleased by them.

    Pearls + Murano glass at Gumps = heaven.

  25. Well, I've definitely been hunting for the leather jacket I want. I'm not really much of a clothes person usually, but egads – what I've invested in shoes and handbags!

  26. The birds are pretty! The handblown blue pair we had (maybe my mom still has them?) were Swedish.

  27. Sounds like a great day — almost like being a tourist, when one just has to roll with what happens!

    Glad you went with the substitute cutter. Though I stay with mine for ages, I think it's best not to get too attached. Of course I feel that way about hair, too!

  28. Like Jan, I get twitchy at the price of the jacket, but I'm also fascinated to see the consideration of its price and its value to current lifestyle by someone who has made such purchases in the past and found them well worth the money spent. And, as my hairdresser pointed out last week (re a single mom on a very limited income who nonetheless budgets carefully to include high-quality haircare), we all prioritize our spending in ways that can seem profligate to others yet make perfect sense to us. The glasses I haven't yet picked up cost more than my first four cars (individually, that is!) — and I may put more miles on them than any of those cars ever achieved!
    I love the agenda you sketched — I'm going to get a day like that into my life soon, whatever it takes! Glad you enjoyed yours!

  29. Thrilled (not gushing here) that you chose the doves. Pleased you found the khakis. Aghast that you'd wear the jacket only three times a YEAR? Was that a typo? And it is only a matter of time till more pearls, trust me, young one.

  30. It wasn't a typo:) Right now I'm working from my sofa. I am meeting with software guys. And I live in California, where we just don't dress up for dinner all that often. I don't mind spending money, as mater says, I just have to know why I'm spending it. The dollars out of the wallet don't bring happiness just in their exit…It was a lovely day. Now it's raining. I'm glad I took the opportunity, thanks everyone.

  31. Sounds as if you had a fabulous and fulfilling day though – love the humming with happiness over your delicious lunch!

  32. thank heavens you found khakis. and this reminds me that I need to do a post on what I have named Gap's late 90's "Khaki a Go Go" Crisis that I basically wrote all of my accounting and finance papers on. the trend is spot on scary.

    also am tres tres flattered that you'd consider me akin to GR. Even if someone needs to tell her that it's okay, air doesn't have calories ;) so snarky this PM I tell you!



  33. I want those mussels NOW. $5500 is a lot for a jacket. I'd want the jacket to wash my floors and do my ironing for that sort of freight. Love the blog! Where I live we have very few wasps. It's just the way it is.xx

  34. Funny that you should mention Katharine Hepburn, because if I am to picture you, she would be the one that comes to mind. :)

  35. Ah, I just love what you said about khakis should not have stretch. I hate how everything stretches these days….sort of like it is not one size but a range of sizes.

    Great comment from the Gold Digger above about the old Banana stores that looked like a safari…I loved those too!

    BTW, I really like your profile pic! You look just as I had pictured you! So wonderful to have such pretty confirmation.

  36. Man, we are so alike! Buy for Impact! I'm' going to have it tatooed on my forehead! What a great mantra. That said, I bought an outrageous Prada bag today in leopard calf hair! IMPACT!

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