The Coat Connundrum

I'm currently reading the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and all the books (except the 13th) are titled with alliterations.  He also uses alliterations for many proper nouns throughout the books.  It seemed fitting that my own "series of unfortunate events" follow the same pattern.

I needed a coat.  It's cold and snowy where my in-laws live.  I don't believe in snow, but that doesn't change the fact that it's cold in there and I therefore need a wintery coat.  So today I set out to buy one.

Destination #1: Burlington Coat Factory
Reason: Lots of coats of the warm, wintry sort (and I want a black one under US$200.)
Results: I must have tried on 20 to 30 coats. to no avail.

In order for you to truly understand my dilemma, there are a few things you must know.
1- I have really long arms.  Really, really long arms.  Longer than they should be for a person of my height.  Typically, a persons arm span (from tip of middle finger to tip of middle finger) is equal to ones height.  Mine should therefore be 68 inches (172-ish cm).   My arm span is 74 or so inches (188-ish cm) (it's hard to measure on oneself).  (This means that I have to knit about 6 more inches of sleeves than the average knitter when I make sweaters for myself.  But I digress...)
2- I have wide shoulders.  My little sister loves this because I will buy blouses, realize that they don't fit across the shoulders ('cause I get stuck getting them on), and then she gets to keep them.  I don't think that's fair, but thus it is.
3- I use forearm crutches almost all the time that I'm out of the house, so I need a decent amount of range of motion in the shoulders and arms.

Test #1: Does it come down and cover my whole wrist?  If not, the sleeves are definitely too short, because every time I move, they're going to come up.  If so, move on to Test #2.
Test #2: Raise arms in front of me to shoulder height.  If I can hear the shoulder seams strain when I lift my arms forward, I know that's not going to work.  And then if I can't raise my arms to at least shoulder height in front of me, that's not going to cut it either.  If both of those tests pass, then move on to Test #3.
Test #3: Look in the mirror.  If it looks dumb, the answer is no.  If I like the look, then buy the coat.

I rarely made it to Test #3.

But I made a discovery:  I can get long enough sleeves and wide enough shoulders if I buy a man's coat.  But then I look like I'm borrowing my husband's coat because they lack the waist shaping of a woman's coat.  And if I wanted to look like I was borrowing my husband's coat, I would just borrow my husband's coat.

I ended up with one possibility, but wasn't really sold on it--too many buttons and things on the sleeve which made it hard to get in and out of my forearm crutches.

Destination #2: J.C. Penny
Repeat Burlington Coat factory experience, except that their coat selection is much, much smaller.
Results: Nada

By this point, I'm running out of spoons but I've got to save enough to go cover a shift at my Sister-in-Law's work.  Only time for one more stop, because I'm also running out of time.

Destination #3: Nordstrom
(Side note: anyone else out there tried taking an escalator on crutches?  Not exactly an experience I'm looking to repeat.  I'll stick to elevators, thank you.)
Results: I was searching through their coat selection and was greeted by their "Coat Expert" who had me try on various coats and talked about what I was looking for and what I needed.  I ended up trying on four coats, and buying one.  (Black.  The sleeves hit me an inch below the wrist when hanging by my side and I can move my arms any way I want, even though they show four inches above the wrist when I raise them in front of me.  Plus it was marked down from US$148 to US$89!!)

So I now have a coat, ready to go to and face the fabled "snow" next week.  It only took three hours to find one.  Good riddance.


  1. Hooray for success! Boo for three stores to make it. I hate shopping (for opposite sorts of reasons from yours, but they clearly don't make clothes for real bodies, sigh).


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