5 fashion finds I wish I hadn't lost

Why I Loved It: It was a hand-me-down from my grandfather, and it smelled like woodsmoke and life experience. Plus, I'd never really seen a lot of wool London Fog coats, so I thought it was something of a rare vintage item. I lost it before I moved to Florida, but as a Texan I was already in the habit of spending the entire summer waiting for the first day cold enough to justify breaking it out - preferably to wear it over the one suit I owned.
How I Lost It: I lost it the way a lot of young, stupid straight guys lose their favorite, or at least most stylish, piece of clothing - I did a woman wrong without bothering to at least consider what things of mine she currently had in her possession.

Why I loved It: Zippos are just a classic example of timeless, iconic American style in any case, but this one in particular was a wholly unexpected gift I received from some friends after I watched their house and fed and medicated their cats while they were out of town. It had a gorgeous brushed-chrome finish, and the engraving - "COCK" on one side, "TAIL" on the other - inspired countless interesting conversations on the subject of my sexual orientation.
How I Lost It: How are 64 percent of all Zippos lost? I got drunk and left it somewhere. A week went by, during which I assumed it was at my buddy's house, and by the time I realized it wasn't there, it was gone forever. I was heartbroken. (The other 36 percent of lost Zippos are stolen, by the way, and there's a special place in hell reserved for those who would purloin such a personal possession.)

Why I Loved Them: They were my dad's, a pair of genuine Air Force issue pilot's boots that had seen service in Vietnam. They were scuffed, ugly and heavy as shit; they were also insanely comfortable, super-cool and a tangible connection to a man with whom I'd always had a relationship defined by the intangible and the unsaid. It also didn't hurt that they threw off a "bad boy" vibe more clearly than any accessory short of a back-tat picturing me committing a crime - and I could take them off at the end of the day.
How I Lost Them: My genuine Air Force issue pilot's boots were the only pair of shoes Milo the White Trash Terrordog ever sunk his teeth into as a puppy, but he really did a number on 'em. I like to think he chose them because they were obviously a treasured possession, which made him love them too; the only other things Milo ever showed an interest in chewing were my beloved books. After a few moves, I got tired of lugging ten pounds' worth of unwearable boots around Pinellas County with me, and I tossed them, with real regret.

Why I Loved It: This tan-ish vintage jacket was undoubtedly the most hipsterrific piece of clothing I've ever owned, before or since. I found it in a thrift store in the lovely little town of Butler, Pennsylvania - a burg too small to support a population of college kids/ska fans large enough to already have picked the racks of the local Salvation Army clean. I occasionally have good luck scoring incredible finds when thrifting, but this jacket ... it was just amazing. Like, Car Bomb Dave amazing. Every time I wore it out, somebody tried to buy it from me.
How I Lost It: One night, a hipsterrific guy didn't ask if he could buy it; he just looked at it with open longing, and told me how great it was. So I gave it to him. I felt like the coolest guy on Earth for the rest of the evening, and I've felt like the world's biggest sap ever since.

Why I Loved It: When you were a teenager and young adult, were your parents always saying they "saw this and thought of you," then giving you clothes you wouldn't wear if it came down to sporting them or walking naked through your ten-year high school reunion? Yeah, me too, God love 'em. This white-and-red Harvard t-shirt, however, was the exception that proved the rule. It came from the esteemed university's bookstore, and I was happy and proud to wear it until it was a stained and fragrant mess, wash it, and do it again. I'm willing to bet that, were all the photos taken of me during the late '80s and early '90s collected for examination, this shirt would show up far more often than any other single article of clothing.
How I Lost It: A pretty girl stole it. That's kind of OK, though; while I can't hope that it became one of her favorite pieces of attire, it's nice to suppose that she wears it every once in a while, and thinks about how she got it, and smiles.

Scott Harrell's "Life As We Blow It" recently won first place in the Blog (Individual) category in the 2011 AltWeekly Awards from the national Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN).


It's weird and wonderful how some articles of clothing come to mean so much to us. Not because of what they are, but because of what they represent - because of who gave them to us, because of what happened while we were wearing them, because of the emotions and memories that color them so much more meaningfully and permanently than any stain.

I'll never be mistaken for someone with anything approaching a passion for fashion. I do like certain things for the way they look, or make me look - mostly jackets and footwear - but beyond comfort and a vague and contradictory set of notions that serves as an underdeveloped sense of "taste," I don't think a whole hell of a lot about what I wear. I'm not a guy with style.

I am, however, a human being, and I think everybody out there owns certain clothes or accessories that they love far more than mere comfort or cut can account for. It's a very human thing to love something more for what it means than for what it is. It goes beyond sentimentality; it's an association so powerful and personal that it's woven into our own sets of reality. It's part - a very big part - of what makes each of us, each of us.

And sometimes we lose them.

Here are five of the items that, when they disappeared from my life, seemed to take a piece of me with them.

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