I often wonder if my husband reads my Budget Vogue columns, but if he reads this one, he’s going to realize I lied. Really. When he asked a few years ago how many coats I have, I told him, “Three.”

That seemed a reasonable number, a respectable amount of outerwear, an amount that reflects a wife who rarely goes overboard, who colors within the lines, who, of course, would utter the words, “But why would anyone need any more coats than that?”

Susan Dromey Heeter's Budget Vogue column sig

And, well, the truth is, I have ten times the number of coats my husband believes I own. I am addicted to outerwear and, frankly, not ashamed to admit it. The hallway closet explodes with my thrift shop finds — the Kate Spade puffer jacket from Rochester’s Salvation Army, the Burberry trench from the same locale, the fabulous red LuLu Lemon jacket from Wonderland in Stratham. I love them all. I am a coat hoarder.

But here in New England, in New Hampshire, we NEED a plethora of coats. It can be cool, freezing, utterly spitting out and, well, must we look like drowned rats? I see coats as akin to lipstick — a bright palette can brighten up so much, can change the entire tenor of a day. When I’m wearing something less than stellar, — say, a stained T-shirt with equally stained khakis — I can throw on a coat and voila — not so bad! It’s all a mirage.

And I like to use coats as storage units, one piece of outerwear may contain my Halloween candy, another some cash, another the mass card from a wake. I use my coats for organizational purposes as well as for warmth, for fashion, for a reprieve from the elements.

When I recently met Shari Pedrick, an elementary school music teacher, she was wearing a fabulous blue coat covered with springer spaniels. It’s a Boden. Adorable.

I asked her how many coats she had and she said, “I don’t even know...enough to make my heart happy.” And then she added, “Coats always find my eyes first ... then you can find an outfit that goes with the coat.”

Shari is my new BFF.

This time of year is marvelous as everyone has jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon and is cleaning out closets. I encourage this; after all, I’m sure that’s why I have a new suede coat made in Italy that is beyond fabulous and was $15 at the Rochester Salvation Army. I wore it to have coffee with friends last night and felt like I was on the red carpet. I am not Joseph with the coat of many colors; I am Joseph with the many colors of coats.

So, a new coat? Bring it on. This Budget Vogue fashionista has a deeply happy heart and room for even more outerwear love. But, shhhhhh….my husband doesn’t need to know.

Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. Contact her at dromeheet@comcast.net.


Recommended for you