Feeling a bit chilly the other day, it was time for the annual autumn wardrobe assessment. The list included an average number of jeans, dresses and tops and quite inexplicably twenty-three coats.
Admittedly a couple of leather jackets may have sneaked into this inventory but really, where have they all come from? Have these coats been breeding over a disappointing summer weather-wise? Why haven't whole areas become deforested with my till receipts over the years? Most importantly, why did this rampage of coat consumption happen? I can't wear this many, so why am I so obsessed with them?
Discussing this wardrobe malfunction with friends, the same behaviour has come up repeatedly. I'm not alone. From the guilty confession, "I sneak the bags upstairs while no-one's looking" to the frankly bewildered, "There are so many and I can't choose just one" and even, "I've just bought another coat....while I've been talking to you about this!" (well we were in a shop at the time). Add to that the sheer number of coat-dedicated Pinterest boards and there's something happening here.
This is flying by the seat of your pants stuff when it comes to the bank account and honestly, in the current climate, quite Osborne-defying. Recession? Not listening while there's still a Zara in the high street and a new autumn coat collection to browse.....
So why have women formed a coterie of coat buyers? What's so special about this particular piece of clothing? We all know that the world is not a nice place at the moment and maybe they act as a kind of colourful, protective, woven shell taking us back to our evolutionary roots. We're no longer wrapping ourselves in cotton wool if we're a bit under the weather but a nice fluffy boucle number comforts us, while military-style works better for those occasional bad-ass days.
If money is tight, maybe we are spending on what gets seen and forget the fact that we are wearing five year-old shredded Gap t-shirts underneath. Who cares because who sees that? A coat can also be the greatest dietary aid ever. No end of muffin-tops can be disguised under the billow of 100% wool flowing in the autumn breeze. Then we have to consider that sneaky usurper the coatigan, opening up the range of goodies in the sweetshop.
Maybe this obsession simply comes from the overwhelming choice out there and the fact that historically-speaking, the price of clothing may never have been lower.
Cavewomen probably slugged it out with each other to model the fur of whatever they had just eaten and that might have been it for life, whereas we now have extended years to move from Miss Selfridge via a range of high street haunts (and Net-a-Porter if you're lucky) to the coffin. Some of us can never leave Topshop behind.
In a world full of war, famine and disease, if a new coat is all it take to get us through the day then let's carry on this movement. Keep calm and carry on.....buying coats.