"I wanted something simple. Something that would match the things I already owned. Something that would do its job and keep me warm without drawing too much attention to itself. Just for fun, I tried on something ridiculous. Because it was half off, and because I knew I'd never buy it. Sort of like kissing the boy you know you'll never end up with, just so you know what it's like.
"It had a lot of faux fur on it. The faux fur was stripey. It was sort of shapeless — a big block of it. It was pure style. It exuded confidence. It shouted, 'Look at me!' and then it shouted, 'No one cares what you think!' and then it purred, 'You know you love it...'
"When I tried it on, I did not look good in the coat. And not just because the coat was dramatic and absurd. I just didn't look that good. The lights in the store were unforgiving. My hair looked unhappy. I had weird lines on my face that I immediately wished I hadn't noticed.
"Sometimes when I try something dramatic and daring and potentially stylish on, I think, 'You can't pull that off.' I imagine a woman who can pull it off, and she looks nothing like me. She looks 40 kinds of nothing like me. She has cheekbones. I have, well...cheeks.
"Sometimes, this horrible, evil little voice that has taken up residence in my head whispers, 'You don't deserve to wear it. You don't look good enough to wear it.'
"As though the thing I am trying on was made for someone else. It was promised at birth by the gods of fashion to someone more long-legged, cheekboned, and deserving. 'You,' says the voice, 'should wear something less...obvious. Something that doesn't draw too much attention to you.'
"I look fine. But I don't look runway fine. And so, it's jeans and sweatshirts and the occasional simple, black dress and plain pea-coats for me.
"Except that I bought the coat.
"I just did it. An act of uncharacteristic recklessness. Possibly self-destructive. 'Alright!' said the guy at the register. 'Good choice!'
"'Yeah,' I said, looking down and smiling and wondering if he secretly found me a little sad for believing I could pull off the coat.
"The first week of wearing it, I felt self-conscious. Did people think I looked silly? Did I look like I wished I was going to the opera? Did my face look completely out of place above the fanciful, feathery collar? I couldn't tell.
"'Oh my god,' said a girl at a party, 'I LOVE your coat!'
"'Wow, I love your coat,' said a friend I was meeting for dinner.
"'Your coat is great,' said my mom, who has recently become very stylish herself.
"I looked at myself in the mirror in my apartment, standing perfectly still in the coat, tights, and socks. I put my shoulders back and my chin up a little, so that I looked sort of haughty, like I might rule the world someday.
"I looked perfect, in my ridiculous coat. Like maybe, secretly, in some great unnoticed fashion coup, it had actually been made for me."