Burberry Trench Coat in 1980s
Personal, Style, Wardrobe

A Mile in Her Clothes: My Mother’s Burberry Trench Coat

Writing this blog, I realize how often I reach for clothes that used to belong to people I loved, particularly my mother and grandmother. And it makes me wonder. What did they think about, when they wore them? Why did they choose to buy this particular item (my grandmother: bright pink needlepoint Stubbs & Wootton slippers with green frogs; my mother: a classic Burberry trench coat that was, at the time, a huge investment for her)? I mention these two items in particular because they were both well-worn and well-loved items (though tended with meticulous care) that were passed down to me.

Burberry Trench Coat in 1980s
My mother wearing her trench coat in the 1980s

Let’s talk about my mother’s trench coat. She worked to put herself through Drexel for college. She was set on pursuing a career in interior design, which she did with a great deal of success, including founding her own business. She loved art. She was a woman who knew what she liked, even at a young age, and I imagine her, in her mid-twenties, working in NYC and living in Brooklyn, carefully saving up so she could afford this trip, this trench coat. What did she think, when she finally walked into the store and bought it? Did she have happy memories of her hard work every time she wore it?

Wearing my mother’s trench coat this past week. (Excuse the mask, I was in a public space and didn’t want to risk taking it off!)

She gave me this coat when I’d moved to D.C. and was working a full-time job, plus babysitting, and sharing an “English garden” apartment with my best friend. It was such a nice feeling to open the package from her and see this beautiful coat I’d always admired. It felt like she approved of what I was doing, even if I wasn’t off starting my own business or even in the field I ended up working in. It was wonderful to have that approval, and to have it now.

So when I wear that coat, I think of my mother. I wonder who will have this next, and who they will think of. We’ll see.

Do you have a special item from a family member or friend, and if so, what is it? I’d love to hear your stories!

7 thoughts on “A Mile in Her Clothes: My Mother’s Burberry Trench Coat

  1. I actually don’t have many items that have been “passed down” to me but my mom and I do share a lot of things. When I was a preteen, she was very pro neutrals and classics, while I insisted on a very unfortunate Hot Topic phase that drove her nuts. It makes me smile now when we trade things because I’m reminded of how my mom is always right and in the end, the apple never falls far from the tree.

    Related, this year I asked my parents and husband for the Tiffany pearl studs with diamonds for my birthday/Christmas and I’m already so excited to be able to share them with my daughter once she’s old enough. Not only are they a gift from three people she and I love most, but they also remind me of the diamond studs and pearl necklace I borrowed from my mom when I got married. Just writing about it makes me tear up!!

    1. That’s so lovely! Yes, when my mother was alive we shared a lot of things, too, especially everyday things. I have a particular cardigan that she would perpetually steal, so it is bittersweet to have it back now.

      I love that!! That is such a timeless gift, and it will be so lovely to pass along to your daughter.

  2. I have my granny’s china, which we use on Sundays. She used to have us over for Sunday dinner (lunch) once a month and always used her china. I think I was about 7 the first time I heard her refer to it as “Judith’s china”. I almost cried then because that would mean living in a world without her. Now I know that she is always with me, nudging me to make one more pie or hug my babies for a little bit longer.

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