HOW TO LOOK GOOD LOOKING GOOD:
[top to bottom at right: Diane von Furstenberg, Miss Sixty, and Tuleh, all Fall 2008 Ready to Wear]
Coat Check Countenance:
Now that we have all these fantastic toppers to choose from for the upcoming season, let us discuss jacket etiquette. First of all, a fool and her fabulous coat are soon parted, so never leave your Dolce & Gabbana duster unattended, even if it's just to run up to grab your latte from the barista at Starbucks. Second, be kind to your coat! If you are at a restaurant that has a coat check [Read: separate room with accompanying attendant; NOT a rack near the front door that is unsupervised!], do be kind to other patrons and the wait staff by checking your coat, particularly if (a) the jacket is casual or unsightly and you are in an upscale joint; (b) it is exceedingly long or bulky; and/or (c) the space between tables is rather tight. Having been both a server and a diner, I can affirm that is is unpleasant for either party to have to worry about the well-being of a coat hung carelessly on the back of a chair. Exception # 1: if you know you will be seated in a banquette or booth and you don't mind sitting next to your jacket, by all means, refuse to check it. But I cannot be held responsible when your date spills marinara all over it. Exception #2: If you have a fabulously expensive or irreplaceable coat, best to keep an eye on it yourself. I have two anecdotes to share here. One ends happily. The other is somewhat tragic. First, I was once at a Cantina in Aspen with my boyfriend and his family. In Ski Country, there are a lot of furs and everyone checks them. So when my date's mother went to claim her mink from the coat check, the attendant accidentally gave her Goldie Hawn's floor length fur. Fortunately, (true story!) Kurt Russell was standing right there with Goldie's ticket and a mix-up was averted, but can you imagine?? Second, I went to a very swanky New Year's Eve bash at a fellow's fancy SOHO loft a few years back, and the host had kindly provided a coat check for party goers. An attendant was posted at the walk-in closet and gave claim checks to revelers as they turned over their garments. Well, I guess the attendant had another party to attend, because he took his leave shortly after midnight, leaving the coats unattended in the unlocked closet. Sure enough, my boring Banana Republic pea coat was still there, but my friend Lindsay's incredible red shearling duster was GONE. Five thousand dollars down the drain! The host said "sorry" but Lindsay's boyfriend would have none of it. He ended up suing in small claims court and recovered nearly half the cost of the coat, but of course it truly was an irreplaceable item. By the by, most restaurants and clubs do NOT take responsibility for lost or stolen items, so be aware that, while most coat checks are fairly reliable, you are taking a risk. As for coat check etiquette, it is customary to tip the attendant at least one dollar per coat. If she has been kind enough to check and appropriately care for other articles such as umbrellas and shopping bags, it would be lovely if you gave her a five or a ten.