A Canada Goose

Dear Dorigen,

I own a Canada Goose winter coat and I have my doubts about it. It’s expensive, it’s a bit too statusy (even for me), and it sparks entirely too many uncomfortable conversations with strangers that I lack the conviction to have.

Canada Goose coats run an outrageous $1000, and although I purchased mine during a rare sale, the exact price I paid was still $W0W.oh. I purchased it online (from a registered buyer; I feel compelled to add), in a cold rage, freezing at a train stop in the dead of a Chicago winter. Then, about a month into owning the coat, I was running errands and struck up a conversation with a woman at my bank. We became fast friends, and I insisted she try on my coat, because she was asking if it was worth the hype; meanwhile, I was at that bank, waiting to take out a loan, because my recent purchase of said coat tipped my credit card debt into a very uncomfortable area. I admitted this to her, and she gingerly took off the coat and delicately handed it back to me. Smart woman.

During Chicago winters, there is a sea of young professionals wearing these things downtown. Does that mean they can afford it? Or do they have loans out too? Or did their parents paid for it? What am I telling people about myself when they see me in this thing? There has been a recent crime spree in Chicago, where a man is stealing the Canada Goose coats off people’s backs at gun point. So, it’s entirely possible that when I wear my Canada Goose, I am telling people that I am rich (not true), that I am a young professional (I am not young), that my parents lavish me with expensive gifts (nope), and/or that I would like to be robbed (please, and thank you).

Strangers frequently ask me about my coat, usually with a smile and a “do you love it?!” My typical grumbled answer is – “I will know after 10 years.” That is one of the big selling points of these coats – they will last you 10+ years without the typical wear and tear of a hard-used winter coat. Unfortunately, the weight of my doubts about the price and the statusy nature of these coats have me giving less polite answers as of late. For example, I recently had lunch with a group of friends of a friend and one asked me why I decided to go with the Canada Goose. This was asked in earnest, because she was considering one for herself, but my answer was an inconsiderate “Because I’m an a$$hole.” My friend chimed in “Because she’s a label whore.” While I don’t believe that either flippant statement is entirely true, it does help affirm what I am worried I am unconsciously telling people about my #choices.

It IS very warm, I’ll give it that, but I think I should have done more diligence on similar options and/or insulating layers. So, I am seriously considering selling my Canada Goose and purchasing a new puffy winter coat in a less-aggressively “brandy” brand. Any suggestions?



P.S. Peta is coming for Canada Goose.

Dear Emily,

I am the type of person who cannot fathom spending that much on a coat and generally tut tut at label whores. I am vaguely aware of the Canada Goose phenomenon and not sure how it relates to the Triple F.A.T. Goose coat craze of 1992? I remember that because I was young and still cared about such things; everyone wore their parkas around Grand Avenue Mall showing off their expendable income like so many Jordans. That was also the time of the Guess jeans craze, where it was very important that your jeans have that Guess triangle patch on the back pocket. My (spectacularly cheap) best friend Loraine and I hoarded a few triangle patches and would sew them onto the back pockets of jeans from Target as a way to freshen up our wardrobes. So I guess the conclusion of that thought process is.. can you buy a knock-off parka and sew the patch from like, a pair of mittens onto it? Hopefully you got your new coat before the COLDEST DAY IN THE HISTORY OF CHICAGO hit you. Lord.


Wine Spectator Royalty

Dear Dorigen,

Did you sign me up to receive the Wine Spectator magazine, like that time you gifted me Teen Vogue? They suddenly started arriving and it’s a bi-weekly publication. They’re piling up so much Pete and I just started making collages with them. We made royalty.



P.S. I thought I only drank on the rare occasion (like a few times a year), but I’m currently tracking everything I eat in anticipation of another diet and discovered I’ve been having a couple glasses of wine a week; I blame the Wine Spectator.

Halloween 2018

Dear Dorigen,

For Halloween this year I was a combination of the two sisters in Melancholia.


It’s uncanny.



a brown boot


Dear Dorigen,


I am on the hunt for tall boots again.

I own a pair that are black, over-the-knee, suede, flat/1” heel, and I am now looking for its “other” – brown, knee-high, smooth leather, 3”-ish heel (block, because I cannot take two steps in stilettos). I’ve been looking for a few years now, testing the waters whenever the boot stock replenishes in stores, and I keep running into the same issues: A) current trends and B) fit.

Let’s break down my requirements:

Brown – Seems simple enough, but apparently all brown boots need to be “riding boots” these days. I am not anti a cute riding boot, but, for my purposes, it’s just rows and rows of no heels.


Get them while supplies continue to last

Knee-high – If you are looking for a bootie (I already own a few) or something over the knee, you are in luck, because, those styles are everywhere and at every price point. For example: if you are watching a scene with a female character on Lifetime’s “You”, she is definitely wearing a bootie.


Only a minute in, and I’m already spotting booties

Smooth Leather – Go to a department store and look at the boot section – everything is suede or suede’s moody cousin, velvet.

Heeled boots – As mentioned, nearly all brown boots have no heel (or maybe 1”).

Basically, I think if I could transport to the 1970’s, I would be surrounded by perfect boots and midi-skirts.


Love this look – Zara

However, even if I traveled through space and time, it wouldn’t solve the main issue: fit.

Fit – Oh, boy, where do I begin. Let’s put this in context. Even after reading my gripes, you may have thought “Oh! I can find these boots!” and if you looked in earnest, even with the pitfalls I’ve mentioned, you would likely still find a handful of seemingly legitimate options. The problem is that those options would likely not even remotely fit me. My legs are proportionately smaller than the top half of my body, but my calves are apparently too wide for the standard boot fit.

My options are so limited that I once did the typical “wide calf” text search on a site, and the only results that came up were shoes. Let that sink in; a site, which sells boots, decided that if you have wide calves, you are better off skipping trying to cover your legs altogether, and just wearing shoes.

And they’re not wrong. I have ordered dozens of boots that simply cannot be put on. Plus-sized sites will sometimes offer a wide fit boot, but they are usually made of cheap material and/or are over the knee. Wide calf boots in any color are almost always flats/1”, and again, suede is rampant.

But, I still have hope. Even as I was writing this, I took a break and ordered a pair.

They’re not especially fashionable, the heel looks to be a bit short and narrow, the little strips with buckles feel dated, I would have preferred either a tan or a more berry brown, the black heel makes these look orthopedic, BUT still they are brown, they come to the knee, they have some heel, they are in a wide calf fit, they have not been infected by the suede monster, they aren’t shoes, and they are not legging boots.

We shall see.



Today’s Bandeau

Dear Dorigen,

So, bandeaus are back and I am am trying to figure out what they are now.

Today’s bandeau is not what we remember in the standard Units size (which was of a length that could be worn as a long modesty tab under button downs or even pulled down to be a skirt); no, so far as I can tell, today’s bandeau is essentially a headband strapped around nipples and paired with leggings.

If I put on the necessary number of these to have them fully cover me up top, let’s say 8, do you think I could convince people I was just doing a layered look?



Halloween for the Office

Dear Dorigen,

As your beautiful, brilliant children have no doubt already made you aware, Halloween will be here very soon. My inner goth teenager strictly prohibits me from giving up on Halloween all together, but I refuse to spend a lot of money and energy on costuming these days and it is now almost entirely relegated to the annual office party.

If you need to make a spooky, yet professional appearance at work (or around the neighborhood), enclosed are some easy costumes I have pulled together over the years. My requirements: 1) only  one additional purchase item, 2) minimal borrowing, and 3) zero hassle with the work day hustle.

Tipi (or Hitchcock for that matter) would never with this non-matching suit, but, girl, I am on a budget

  • The Costume: Tippi Hedren from the Birds
  • Purchased: Crow
  • From my closet: Smart-enough suit, headband (to attach the bird to), work heals.
  • Borrowed: Fake blood
  • Response: I was the first one in the office that day, and had not yet added the blood to my face when another early-bird co-worker arrived. He forgot it was Halloween costume day and had to wait a couple hours until someone else arrived, so he could ask them, in earnest, if I was trying to make life-sized birds happen. This actually made my day, because 1) even though I had not yet been with the company for a year, it meant that my co-worker already knew that I was a fearless fashionista and 2) he had a point, life-sized birds on heads legitimately could make a comeback.

Anna Wintour. I was physically unable to remove the smile

  • The Costume: Anna Wintour
  • Purchased: Wig (ok, and I also bought the Vogue)
  • From my closet: Over-the-knee dress in a small print, sunglasses (my prescription ones are red, so I used black electrical tape over the rims), necklace, fancy-looking kitten heels.
  • Borrowed: Fur coat (worn over the shoulders). Thanks Livi! 
  • Response: I got second place in the costume contest, I think mostly because I kept reading people for their fashion choices – “What? No want for color?” Also, as you know, my love of this wig resulted in a life-defining haircut.

5th Golden Girl, Pippa Greenquist, doesn’t stand for nonsense

  • The Costume: 5th Golden Girl (I decided my name should be Pippa)
  • Purchased: Tights (they were out of the very 80’s “suntan” color)
  • From my closet: Dress with a 80’s fabric twist neckline, grandma‘s broach, various costume jewelry, 80’s pink lipstick
  • Borrowed: Hat. Thanks again, Livi!
  • Response: I admit this wasn’t my best effort, but once I explained the inspiration to those who asked, I got a lot of… “Oh, I love that show! So-and-so was my favorite!”

Mrs. White – Clue

  • The Costume: Mrs. White – Clue
  • Purchased: Hat (thanks to my mother-in-law, who gave me a conveniently timed gift card to an antique store).
  • From my closet: Black dress, belt, tights, and heels and grandma’s pearls.
  • Borrowed: My department dressed as a group, so later in the day I “borrowed” one of the weapons we made with paper and cardboard.
  • Response: Our department won the office costume contest. We were each dressed as a different character (some mix of the movie and the game) and our boss’s costume was the envelope (brilliant).

Darryl Revok – Scanners

  • The Costume: Darryl Revok – Scanners
  • Purchased: Medical tape and gauze
  • From my closet: Suit, button down, loafers, black sharpie (for the “inner eye”)
  • Borrowed: Tie (from my husband). Thanks Pete!
  • Response: Very few people got the reference, but this is my favorite Halloween costume ever – it was warm, it was clever, it referenced a beloved movie, it cost next to nothing, and it can be worn by anyone. Also, if someone repeated this costume, and you wanted to be even more comfortable, he is technically wearing a t-shirt in this scene, additional robe also works.

This year my Halloween costume is TBD, but I’m not worried. I’ll come up with something. Any time someone says to me, “you know who you look like?” I used to brace myself for the inevitable insult, but now I just write it down for future easy Halloween costumes. As an aside, I have literally never witnessed anyone feeling complimented after hearing the end of “you know who you look like?” even if it’s telling a guy that he looks just like Ryan Gosling.

But anyway, easy Halloween costumes basically just fall into my lap, as there are a million and one characters/people who have glasses and bangs and I am apparently very approachable. Like, recently, a young man (teenager? early twenties?) excitedly stopped me on the train; he really needed to talk to me about how much I look like Velma from Scooby-Doo (the live-action version; he specified).

So, Dorigen, do you have any easy and fabulous-enough costume ideas? Any kid-friendly costume suggestions that may require some fun crafting?



P.S. If I chose to lift the minimal spending ban for Halloween, I would go as simply “plaid,” but, as it stands now, that would require a lot of purchasing on my part…

plaid. OMG. plaid.

Pullover: L.L.Bean | Earmuffs: Brooks Brothers | Bag: Burberry | Shoes: Vans | Top: L.L.Bean | Skirt: J.Crew (aka J.Crute) | Pants: Brooks Brothers