I’ll Never Get Rid Of My Hand-Me-Down Leather Jacket

I’m the type of person that has a difficult time getting rid of stuff, especially clothes, shoes, and accessories. I’ve had the experience too many times of something coming back in fashion the season after I’ve donated it to charity. So even though my closet is literally bursting at the seams and I have several stacks of shoe boxes crowding my room, I refuse to get rid of anything that still fits. One item I know I’ll never give up, unless I’m being held at gunpoint, is my vintage black leather jacket.

Back in the ’70s my cousin’s father worked at a leather jacket factory and made this black jacket for her. It was passed down to another cousin when she outgrew it. And then, I got it when I was 10. It was a little big for me, especially in the sleeves, but I rocked it anyway. I still remember what I wore with it the first time — a pink sweater with thin beige stripes and black wide-wale corduroy pants. (I have this strange ability to remember the outfits I wore on certain occasions, including what I had on down to my underwear when I lost my virginity.) I felt so stylish and adult because I’d never owned a leather jacket before — my usual outerwear was a down coat from London Fog, courtesy of my dad or grandma. It was NYC in the early ’90s and a child wearing a brand-new leather jacket was asking for trouble.I continued to wear the jacket through junior high and in high school I had finally grown into it. The jacket made my plaid uniform kilt look fashionable, especially when I wore it with black tights, high-heel oxford shoes, and a gray argyle vest from the Gap. By the time I hit college, though, the jacket had seen better days. The leather had lost some of its original luster and the lining began to shred.

My black leather jacket is probably the oldest thing I own. And although it was made in the ’70s, it’s still stylish to this day, because the collar isn’t elongated like most jackets and coats from that time and the tone-on-tone stitching on the pockets and back add a little surprise.

It’s funny for me to think about the jacket being too big initially, because now it fits me like a wetsuit when zipped. My shoulders have become broader in the last few years — as a result of taking Prednisone for my asthma, I think. So now I can only wear my jacket comfortably when it’s unzipped, but that gives me a reason to collect chunky knit scarves. As for the lining … I periodically cut off the hanging tattered fabric. I guess I could have the lining replaced, but then it wouldn’t be the same jacket. I like having garments that have a story behind them and one day I might pass this jacket down to my daughter(s).

What item of clothing do you have that you would never give up?