Twenty- seven today. The day is a twenty-seven sort of day. Neither here nor there, bright nor dull, fresh nor jaded, summer nor autumn, it hovers pallid and passive, abdicating responsibility for moods or plans. A half-eaten bowl of porridge cools on the counter. A nest of gutted envelopes disgorge their colourful cards. A sort of watery, dutiful happiness dribbles through my veins with the thin, badly-shaken orange juice. Little black skirt, tights with a hole in the toe, Goofy T-shirt, cream brogues. Quickly done red nails as a nod to festivities. Jumper too hot, cardigan too cold. I shrug on a jacket and step out to face my twenty-seventh version of the world.
A jacket? The Jacket. Untouched since last spring, I had long forgotten The Jacket’s power. It is the perfect choice; the world’s gift to me on my birthday morning has been to nudge my unlovely, chip-varnished grasp towards The Jacket, armour extraordinaire. Old (keep the ‘vintage’ for the punters), charity shop Nicole Farhi, The Jacket is lightweight but properly tailored, and the faded gold-corn colour of a fragrant and delicate bisque. Single breasted, smoothly lined, it has a subtle chevron weave interspersed with dash-stitched cream lines that suggests loucheness, debonairity, dash. I wear it with the sleeves rolled above my elbows. I drop it on floors and squash it in bags. It makes me the woman I want to be, now I am truly no longer a girl: totally comfortable, just pulled together enough, and shimmering a little, like the softly smoggy sky.
There have been others. A slate-grey, silk-mix, double-breasted shirt-jacket hit this season’s boyfriend and eighties buttons and only cost me forty quid. But it’s just too fashionable to lend me true esteem; walking past the fabulous Fashion Week stragglers on the Strand, I feel like a timid high-street try-hard. Last month I found a men’s soft black drummer-boy bomber, half Prince of Pop, half Prussian general, but I have to already be in a kick-ass noir mood to shoulder its brooding trim.
No, The Jacket leads me to smile at the nervous newbie at the tube helpdesk, and opt for an independent espresso rather than a big-name-chain syrupy latte. The Jacket lets me leave half an hour before I reply to email, and cut out all the over-reactive words. The Jacket tells me to sit out in the warmcool of the morning for ten minutes and let the thought train in my head run itself out of steam. The Jacket prompts me to buy a card to send someone because it isn’t their birthday. The Jacket makes my legs look fantastic. I don’t know how.
My perfect jacket. I think I might just have grown into it, after all these years.