Monday, November 16, 2009

Garnet Hill Wins Me Over, and Over

Back in the middle of August, I ordered a skirt and a raincoat from Garnet Hill. They're based in New Hampshire and carry chic but generally sensible clothing, shoes, sleepwear, and bedding. You won't find cage heels or anything else you'd find in a fashion magazine — which is a relief, if you ask me. Instead there are thoughtfully designed items you can imagine yourself wearing every day. They specialize in luxurious natural fibers in a range of colors, and simple styling.

The raincoat arrived in early September; the skirt arrived last week. I knew these items were backordered when I ordered them. But I'd been hunting for a simple coat like this for years:



I already own a raincoat with a belt, but I HATE belts. What was I thinking? Yes, it was black, sleek, and subtly sexy in a PI sort of way. But I can't stand having to tie and untie a belt all the time (say I'm shopping in a cold downpour and going in and out of several warm shops) and I hate having the damn belt trailing behind me untied even more. Worse, this particular belt is slippery, so several nice passersby have stopped me over the years and proudly handed me my belt, which landed on the sidewalk. I was always sorry to see it. If it wanted to escape, like that boa constrictor in the first Harry Potter film, that was fine by me. A good excuse for a new coat.

My new "Travel Coat" has a fitted shape. NO belt. (It's strange how 9 out of 10 raincoats are belted trenches or totally shapeless.) It's waterproof, lined but not bulky, and it squashes up into a travel pouch, which would fit into my Longchamp bag if I bothered to bring it. I can just roll up the coat and stuff it in the bag instead. The collar conceals a hood. It's 3/4-length so I won't get drenched above the knee. (It's also strange how short many raincoats are — and what is the point of the ones with 3/4-length sleeves? What's next, a sleeveless raincoat?) I can tuck it in a small suitcase or use it as a pillow on a plane. It meets every requirement. I am a satisfied customer. In fact, I'm thrilled.

I ordered the skirt because they were offering 20% off purchases of $100 or more, and the coat was a bit less than that. Called the "Flamenco Skirt," it's made of gray cotton knit that falls in a half-dozen ruffles to about the knee. I like quirky skirts; with a simple tee or a turtleneck, they give me a semblance of style. But this one does nothing for me. It's clingy and quickly turns into a wrinkly mess. It's also too big, so it looks frumpy. It's going back. Win some, lose some. I already have a quirky gray skirt, anyway, and one is all I need.

At Garnet Hill, you get free shipping (to and fro) if you exchange an item for something else. I have my eye on one of their reasonably priced, lightweight cotton turtlenecks in fine gray and black stripes, which might look good under a cardigan with jeans or a quirky skirt. They also sell cashmere socks, which I like wear around the house instead of slippers in winter. (I hate slippers almost as much as belts.)

I planned to exchange the skirt today but housecleaning intervened with the trip to the PO; instead, I washed a quilt at the laundromat down the street because it's too bulky for my machine. When I picked up the mail, I found a card from Garnet Hill, entitled, "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait," with an apology for the delay in shipping the skirt. They included a $20 coupon that's good on any purchase until Christmas.

Consider me an even more satisfied customer, who will definitely shop at Garnet Hill again soon. I covet their $200 riding boots, which would be ideal for stomping around the neighborhood, but I can't afford to splurge right now. (The cat plague is costing us a small fortune every week and it will get more expensive later.) But if I can save $20 on that turtleneck or some socks, I'll be a happy shopper indeed.

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