Published in The Constant Shopper, Oct. 23, 2007.

The coat quest is reaching new levels of desperation. Witness my outing with
my Sunday entourage of three old dames to the Cavendish Mall. (Like the
Ukraine, this mall can’t shed its definite article, and I can’t explain

So there I was with the ladies – let’s call them Grumpy, Wacky and Deranged
– at the mall during an antiques show, a wonderful event that elevates the
most mundane of shopping expeditions to the sublime. See granny’s tea set,
crystal and pearls. Amid the junk, some nice stuff: cameos galore, a
Rosenthal apple green set in the manner of Suzy Cooper, bone cutlery, a
burnished country hutch at a very fair price.

And then, amid the smelly old furs, I spied blond mink, a special obsession
of mine since Gwyneth Paltrow sported a darling one in the 2001 film The
Royal Tenenbaums. Lots of blond mink, long and short, in coats, jackets and

I started trying on, but like vintage wear of every nature, it has to sit
right. A hip-length jacket, with puffed bracelet sleeves, didn’t cut it,
despite a nice price. “The sleeves are too short!” Deranged offered, many
times. A coat with horizontal skins was nice, but $650 and still not quite

Grumpy needed to rest. We repaired to the coffee shop. Then I saw another
jacket, so blond it was albino. I ventured over. Wacky and Deranged followed
as Grumpy downed several Atasols. The jacket was smelly, and the lining was
falling off. But the lining had a sparkly floral pattern, unlike the
wretched embroidered stuff churned out on St. Alexandre or Mayor St. back in
the day. And it sat right.

How much? The answer came: $450.

Talk about sticker shock. My budget for a smelly coat with no buttons and
torn lining, with sleeves to the elbow, runs about $100, maybe $200 if I
really love it.

Deranged had a better idea. “$50!” she screeched, flinging it across the
counter and on to the floor. Owner of said jacket walked away.

“Go away,” I hissed at Deranged. She went.

“That’s rather expensive,” I told the people minding the booth, asking them
to let me know if the owner would consider a more reasonable price.

Repair to coffee shop. Owner returns. I walk over, followed by Wacky. “$50!

Cash!” she offers.

Owner declines. I cut my losses and say thank you very much.

If anybody knows of a nice blonde mink jacket out there …..

Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tennebaums inspired a hunt for blond mink. TOUCHSTONE PICTURES

Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tennebaums inspired a hunt for blond mink. TOUCHSTONE PICTURES