I found this coat today on a website that I like to browse, dresslily. I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that most of their products are made for people smaller than I. (I'm still not used to being an XL with a double-digit bosom!) It's a shame, really, because they have some adorable things!

This coat, silly as it is, really appeals to me. I like bright colors and fun, unexpected accents. I love fur trim. I love old-fashioned looking things, and this is reminiscent of the late 19th century to me. Did I ever mention that for most of my childhood my greatest ambition was to be Amish? I used to actually spend hours scheming about how to be taken in by an Amish community, since they're pretty exclusive.  The simplicity, honesty, and hard work of their lifestyle really appealed to me, and it was all cloaked in the romanticism of childhood fancies. The dream died when my mother informed me that all the Amish were allowed to read was the Bible. Being the bookworm that I was and am, this was an unacceptable compromise, so I sadly parted ways with my fondest wish. (I've since learned that this is not true.)

I had a vibrantly sky blue coat while I was at SOULS. I got it at a yard sale put on by the church we were staying at my first summer in MI. It was a pleather trench coat, dappled in shades of sky and pale blue so that it looked like a pleasantly clouded sky. It made me sweat since there was no air flow through that material, but it was certainly handy for rainy days. GM hated it, I later learned, because it didn't match with anything that I owned or wore it with. I am of the opinion that you don't have to match at all, ever, unless you want to. I also firmly believe that coats are exempt from any outfit matching rules and can be whatever color or style you darn well please.

I finally did part with my blue trench coat, but I think back on it with fondness. It was my way of hanging on to my individuality and the sparkle of my persona in an atmosphere that, while not explicitly demanding conformity, encouraged a sort of bland sameness. Once there I didn't have much to work with anymore-- no unnatural hair colors, no jewelry, no crazy haircuts… Just modest shirts, long skirts, and cute flats. To counter that, I wore shawls, blue trench coats, neon sweaters… anything that was still me I clung to in the lukewarm sea of conservativism. I wasn't the only one. JP had his crazy knee-high socks and his sling, BH had a red track suit he wore in off times, LP always maintained her classic, fun style with grace and ease and lovely scarves, and JR would forego the demand for "propriety" in favor of the leafy embrace of the nearest tree.

Over time, though, I even gave up the bright colors, heeding very literally the counsel to not draw attention to oneself through dress or appearance. I regret that now. I entered the world of conservative Christianity during a (long) period of my life when I was struggling to find myself, to figure out who I was without the clutter and debris of friends and hobbies and expectations and excuses. I became what I thought I was supposed to be, but that was a trick I picked up at a very, very young age. If you are what you're supposed to be, act the way you're supposed to act, etc., then you curry favor with those in power and make yourself less likely to be noticed. A handy trick for abusive and dysfunctional situations. It's taken years, though, to shed that habit and slough off the accumulation of personas cultivated over decades.

I'm finally figuring out me, letting my true self shine out bright and bold… and I think the true me would like a coat like this.

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