It’s been dubbed the coat of moms on the Upper East Side of New York City, and for only $120 (affordable by warm winter coat standards), it took New York by storm. Add to cart with Amazon Prime, and it’s hanging on your coat rack by tomorrow evening. With such brutal force did the Orolay Thickened Down Jacket hit us that you can refer to it simply as “the Amazon coat,” and everyone will know what you’re talking about.
And now as we encroach upon the dark and biting days of March, I must confess: I, too, purchased the illustrious Amazon coat, and it is at once one of my favorite purchases of all time…but also a conduit of great shame.
Let me explain.
Earlier this year, I found myself unhappy with my winter coat. When zipped, it clung tightly to my body giving me an exaggerated Betty Boop silhouette. Fed up with outwear that sexualized an out-of-shape body wearing layers upon layers—with front pockets (uncomfortable!) and a hood that barely stretched over my large head no less (I have a very large head)—the buzz around this Amazon jacket with an appetizing price point had me at hello. I selected navy, size medium and clicked “Buy Now.”
Between the purchase of the coat and its arrival, I suddenly noticed that every woman in the office was wearing the coat. Is this an exaggeration? Yes. But it felt like it. It brought me back to the days of high school, where, if you didn’t have a black North Face puffer and Uggs you would probably just die from exposure and no one would even shovel your body out of the ice because who cares about a person who’s not wearing name brand outerwear?
Is that an exaggeration? Again, yes. But that’s what it felt like.
Older and wiser, I am no longer a puppet at the whims of social pressure. I take pride in being myself and making decisions that resist the waves of accepted norms! I am subversive! Distinguished in my original thinking! I am an iconoclast!
Well, I thought I was, at least.
When my Amazon coat arrived, I was excited. It was basically a tent dress for subzero weather. There were ample pockets (so many!), a cozy hood (that covered my huge head!) and cool zippers (fun!). I loved it. The next morning, I put it on. I wore it out of my apartment. I walked onto the sidewalk and to the subway as all the other Amazon coat wearers did that morning, and together, to the tune of Dave Matthews’s “Ants Marching” (which, yes, I would blast on my way to school in my ’92 Honda Accord, dressed in my black North Face puffer and Ugg boots), we scurried off to our jobs, ate our salads and drank our coffees with oat milk.
When other New Yorkers see my coat, they ask, “Is that the Amazon coat?” “Can I try it on?” “Is it really worth it?” Everywhere I go, the coat precedes me. I am but a shadow to the coat, a vehicle in which to take the coat from one place to another in its very busy day signing autographs.
So, when I went home for a visit to the suburbs of Chicago, I thought, Nobody here knows that my coat’s famous. This will be a well-deserved break from the paparazzi.
“Is that ‘the Amazon coat’?” my friend’s father asked me, not on the Upper East Side but in a quiet gated community in Northbrook, Illinois. “Yes,” I coyly admitted. Hmmm, guess word does travel to the Midwest. But then,
“My wife has the coat, too! She got it two years ago."
My throat became dry. I was lost for words. My brain short-circuited. But, but I’m from New York. I’m ahead of the trends—
“—actually, it was Mindy who got me the coat. As a gift,” my friend’s mom chimed in.
“But, how did Mindy know?” I asked, still shocked.
“Mindy always knows. Everything,” they told me.
“Does Mindy know if it will still be socially acceptable to wear next year?” I wanted to ask, butheld my tongue. I knew the answer in my heart. Mindy had probably already moved on. After all, not only did she buy the coat two years ago, but she bought it for someone else, like she wouldn’t be caught dead in the coat she knew every mom on the Upper East Side would be wearing come 2019.
I’m not even a mom. I don’t live on the Upper East Side. What am I doing?! But did I want to go back to my Betty Boop coat? No. Besides, it was long gone to the annals of the Salvation Army by now. I chose the Amazon coat. I must take responsibility for the coat. It’s my cross to bear. Of course, now I realize that the enticing price point came with a cost: Everyone else would have it. Like Schrödinger’s cat, as soon as I opened the Amazon Prime box it became uncool. History is repeating itself. This was just another version of that Dave Matthews Band album I burned on a Gateway computer ten years after it came out. Everything I do has been done before; time is a flat circle.
Do I love my Amazon coat? Yes, I do. It keeps me warm. I can layer ample layers beneath it. The hood fits my ginormous giant’s head even while wearing headphones. So, while it’s definitely one of my favorite purchases of all time, it will forever remain one of my greatest shames. I am forever scarred as an Amazonian minion who took the bait.
Is that an exaggeration? Of course. But that’s how it feels.