Features, vintage, Wardrobe stories
By Lauren Bravo on April 15th, 2013
The Made in Chelsea set aren’t the only ones who can pull off a family heirloom. In the first of our Wardrobe Stories series, co-editor Lauren Bravo explains how her grandmother’s old coat became her go-to for winter glamour
My grandmother was a glamourpuss in the old school sense. Always coiffed, always manicured, but not starched – instead she had that sense of joyful, playful style that you just can’t fake or teach. Silk scarves, lacy gloves, a flash of scarlet lipstick, a perilously high heel for an octogenarian after two hip replacements. She was still teaching a keep-fit class as an octogenarian after two hip replacements too, mind.
Nanny delighted in showing off her sassiest shoes and telling me, “you can have them when I’m dead, not before.” She was a size five, meaning I could never squeeze my hooves into the Bally stilettos anyway, but that wasn’t the point. She was all about ‘heritage’ before Christopher Bailey et al cracked out the tweed – she knew what it meant to covet something beautiful, and patiently wait to inherit it. Never mind that everyone else was in Sketchers and Punkyfish zip-ups; my Grandmother’s wardrobe was my holy grail.
The very last time I saw her, the day before she died of pancreatic cancer, she was asking hospital nurses for her hairspray. Her funeral was on the hottest day of the year, and I wore a fuchsia pink wiggle dress and seamed stockings – completely inappropriate and yet everything she would have loved. “I’ve come as Funeral Barbie,” I told the vicar, solemnly.
But even Nanny might be surprised that her legacy has kept me warm for five winters and counting. I pounced on this coat during the big, sad wardrobe clearout that followed her death, and I brought it back to life by hacking a foot off the bottom – sacrilege, perhaps, but it was 2008 and none of us had conquered ‘midi’ without feeling like Edwina Currie yet.
It’s a (fake) brown astrakhan swing coat with a furry golden collar so big that it’s a bit like walking around in an Aslan costume. There is nothing like throwing on an outlandish coat to make everything underneath it look immediately better – or completely irrelevant, because HEY look at your coat. I can wear it to Londis and I still feel a bit like the feisty mistress of a 1930s gangster. The lining is ripped in places and there’s a big hole in the pocket that I’m forever losing tissues through, but still it manages to make me feel like a queen.
This coat has probably earned me more compliments than all my other clothes put together, even if I suspect half of those people are simply saying “coat!” in the same way we say “haircut!” or “ooh what a large and vibrant tattoo!”. It’s massive, it’s ostentatious, it’s not for everyone. But it’s a tribute to my eternally glamorous grandmother – and really bloody warm as well.