One rule that I try to live my life by is notice what other people are doing, and do something else. That’s why I love my Carhartt jacket. It’s warm, it’s tough, and it doesn’t make me look better than I need it do. It’s practical. And as my friend Jack told me, “You’re a man who delights in practical things.” That is very true.
I bought my tan Carhartt jacket in the fall of 2011. It was just as my second year working for the Maryland Conservation Corps was starting. I had worked over the previous winter in my bulky down coat that I had had for the longest time. It wasn’t practical to do outdoors work in.
My roommate Peter had bought one and I decided to follow suit (or jacket.) I spent a little over $100 on the coat, it was one of my biggest post-college purchases (other than my car, I guess.) I grew to love it pretty quickly. It was a little heavy and blocked out the wind. I called it my bulletproof coat because it felt like it could stop a bullet.
It got frayed around the cuffs. I got paint on it. My mom complains that it’s dirty. But I still wear it almost everyday in the winter. It’s still warm and it’s not falling apart.
I moved on to Boston for graduate school after Maryland. I did about as much of a 180 as you could. I went from a daily job focused outdoors to one where I usually at a desk or inside. I went from wearing work pants and steel toed boots to khakis and loafs. But I kept my coat. For one, I didn’t want to spend the money on a new coat. I was living off of student loans and a small stipend.
I also didn’t want to give it up. I wore nice shoes, slacks and button up shirts most days. I liked feeling like a “professional” but for some reason I liked wearing the coat to work or class. I liked riding the train and seeing lots of well-dressed people who, under their coats, wore the same thing as me, but I don’t think I ever saw a person wearing a Carhartt coat. I got one of the best compliments of my life when a friend told me, “Dude, you look so Good Will Hunting right now.” That’s one of my favorite movies, so I was pretty flattered.
My friends started calling me out on my style. It was my tan coat with my red Boston University hat. I still wear that today.
There was sawdust in my coat pockets for the longest time. I’d move it around in my fingers when I was waiting on the train.
Not everything you do needs to look good. Style is overrated. There’s something wonderful about practical things that do their job well. Some things you just need to keep because they keep you warm and make you feel good. That’s why I love my Carhartt coat.