1st Prize Winner – My Vintage Leather Jacket by Natalie Porter

When I first saw your competition, I spent a lot of time traipsing through my many beautiful skirts and dresses and trying to pick a favorite from all the bright, bold prints that have come to grace my wardrobe over the past couple of years. At the back of said wardrobe, I found an old, shapeless black dress that had been my ‘staple’ item two years ago and threw it on, only to be transformed back into the equally shapeless ‘blob’ that I had been known as throughout high school; I physically laughed out loud.

It made me realize not only the difference that colorful, well fitted clothes make to physical appearance, but also the complete change in confidence that they can instil too.

I found the coat about two years ago, on a shopping trip to Liverpool with my Mum- I had been going through a difficult time and she was trying to cheer me up. Bored of the same old high street shops, we stumbled across a vintage fair full of shiny, colorful things and spent the ensuing hours rummaging through rails, trying things on and laughing at how ridiculous we looked in our feather boas and sparkly disco flares. The jacket was on the very last stall we visited and I initially tried it on in jest. However, it fitted perfectly and when I looked in the mirror I loved it instantly and suddenly saw what I’d been missing out on. In a way (and please forgive me for the cheesiness!) I think I took the first steps to finding my ‘self’ in that jacket, in that mirror, on that day! Please bear in mind that, up until this point, I was a mousey-haired 17 year old who didn’t ‘do’ makeup and only wore plain, shapeless, dark colored clothes. Buying the jacket marked a change in that. The next day my mousey hair became postbox red, I stopped trying to blend in and the transition began.

Over the next few months, I acquired lipsticks, eyeliners, bright colored clothes, a correctly fitting bra and more waist belts than you can imagine- it turned out that I wasn’t a blob at all, just an hourglass who hadn’t been showing anyone the ‘in’ bit. The compliments flew in, my confidence grew and grew and I became happier by the day. The picture was taken around Xmas 2010 I think and, a further fifteen months on, I’m now a happy, healthy, slightly brighter redhead with a colorful wardrobe of flattering clothes and I love my 38:28:39 figure.

As for the coat, it has been worn on almost a daily basis since it arrived. It was made of real leather by ‘County Coats London’ and had already had a fair bit of wear when I acquired it, yet it only gets more lovely with weathering. The style is effortlessly timeless; My Grandad has a similar jacket from the War time that my Mum used to wear and I’d love to be able to pass it on to my daughter, should I be so lucky as to have one, and would imagine it would still be ‘in fashion’ in thirty years time!

In the winter snow of 2010, I was still warm and cosy and I don’t overheat in it when it’s not so cold either; it always seems to keep me just the right temperature. It protects me from the wind and (within reason) the rain whist still looking classical and a bit different, whatever I’m wearing underneath it. There was a worrying time when high street shops started stocking very similar looking coats yet mine still shone through the crowd because of its quality and authenticity and will still soldier on for several decades (I hope) whilst its high street counterparts are already falling apart.

I honestly do not have a single bad word to say about this jacket- it can be worn out shopping, at work, to dinner parties or just as easily to a nightclub. As a university student, however, I think my favorite thing about it is the real sheepskin collar…it makes a brilliant make-shift pillow during boring lectures!

When I told her about your competition, my Mum’s response was ‘The thing you can’t live without will be the one that spends the least amount of time in your wardrobe’ and so, having never even BEEN inside my wardrobe, the coat was the clear winner. Aside from everything else though, the main reason I have chosen it is because of the change it helped me make to my life- I could have ‘lived’ without finding it, but life would certainly not have been half as much fun as it is now. Best Β£40 I have ever spent.

Nat xx

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