Oh the weather outside is frightful, but wrapped in mink, I feel (and look) delightful.
It is 11:30 PM on Wednesday December 4th, the outside temperature is 68 degrees. The weather man is saying Thursday into Friday we will go down to about 10 degrees at night and are facing the potential for freezing rain and accumulating snow. Last week it was tornadoes, this week an ice storm. Weather in the upper South is definitely schizophrenic.
For 20 years, I lived in Chicago had more than my fill of cold and snow. I positively HATE being cold. Since hibernating in the islands for seven months of the year wasn’t terribly practical, I tried everything to combat the cold: down & polyfill parkas that made me resemble the Michelin man, cashmere, wool, vicuna, thinsulate, etc. I still froze.
As a last ditch effort to avoid life as a cabaña boy, I bought my first fur coat.
Walking out onto Michigan Ave I no longer felt the frigid gusts coming off Lake Michigan! Hallelujah! Old Man Winter with his wind, snow, and sub-zero temps could now kiss my fur-covered ass! As a major plus, I looked fabulous! Yes, Peta hates me and I really don't give a damn.
No other material can do what fur does without putting on 37 layers and that is so not attractive. Fur is proven to have the best insulating and body heat reflecting capabilities of any natural or man-made material. Hell, fur was working for humans long before wool or any man-made coat material. Ironically, fur is even comfortable at less extreme temps because it does breath. Depending on the fur, any temp below 50 can be fur weather.
For those that have qualms about killing "cute fluffy woodland creatures" just remember many of the animals used in fur are rodents and are raised on farms just like cattle to serve the purpose of becoming a coat. Mink, chinchilla, and rabbits fall in the farm raised category. Farm raised fur is treated in a more humane and clean way than where next weeks steak dinner currently resides.
Otter, beaver, nutria (btw, just a fancy name for giant ugly swamp rat), fisher, marten, and raccoon can be nuisance animals that destroy property and alter the landscape in destructive ways. Predators like fox, coyote and agin with the raccoons will gladly decide your little Mr. Snokums or Tabby-poo will make a good dinner.
Getting in the garbage, eroding property, destroying landscaping, tearing up the attic, and eating the family pet dramatically decreases the "cute-ness quotient" of the furry little woodland creatures.
Please go to a reputable furrier! Furriers are a dying artisan profession; however, larger cities generally have at least one. You can also look to your better boutiques and see if they have trunk shows done by a furrier.
Fur epitomizes “investment dressing”. If you are buying your first fur, look to classic and timeless styles that are in natural darker colors. If taken care of, your fur will last 50 years or more so you want a style that will stand the test of time. Aside from flattering damn few skin tones; “fun furs” like Big Bird yellow and chartreuse will be out of style before you even get out of the store.
Mink is an excellent “starter” fur since it is elegant, durable, easy to wear and goes with everything from jeans to evening wear.
You can also look to better vintage stores and some antique dealers. Here you must judge if the fur has been properly cared for. How can you tell? Feel it! Does it feel stiff? Does it feel dried out? Do the hairs easily pull out when you lightly grasp a few? Does it look faded? Does it have big worn or bald spots in key areas? If so, walk away.
If the coat passes the tests above but has an old-fashioned silhouette, doesn’t fit well, or smells a bit musty, a furrier can clean and completely restyle the coat to a modern look including dying it. Even if there are a couple small tears or the lining looks worn, these are easily repairable. Expect to spend a in the hundreds of dollars to do this but you may come away with a coat that would cost you $5000-20,000 brand new.
Good furs are not cheap and cheap furs are not good!
Furs are generally labeled with the type of fur and it’s country of origin. Please do NOT buy anything labeled “Made in China”. Aside form the workmanship being horrible; there have been instances of your “mink” is actually dog.
Unless buying a very trendy funky color like purple, avoid rabbit. Though much less expensive, rabbit fur is not terribly durable and can shed constantly. Let the streetwalkers or a Kardashian wear Bugs Bunny with a pair of hot pants and stilettos. Spend a bit more and buy something that will look good and last for years.
Faux fur, up until recently, was an abomination. It always looked like you were wearing a muppet or you skinned the family dog. Faux has none of the warmth qualities of real fur, and is made from petroleum products just like microfiber, polar fleece, thinsulate, polyfill etc. Hmm the moral quandary, wearing a natural product that would have been killed anyway or wearing the dregs from a gas tank, that requires more toxic chemicals to produce and never decomposes to enrich the earth???