Market Research: Saint Laurent’s “Black & White Teddy Bomber Jacket”

Michael Arceneaux On Dressing For How We Deserve to Feel

    As a kid, there were few things I wanted more than a Starter jacket. Two in particular: the Charlotte Hornets, with its classic turquoise, and the Orlando Magic—the black boosted by drops of dark blue and white. I might have been in denial about a few things back then, but my colors, I knew and accepted those.

    Starter jackets signified a certain degree of early ‘90s cool; a “cool” I would later come to understand as status. In order to look a certain way—expensive, and whatever else suggests better than others—you needed to be able to afford your bragging rights.

    My jackets and coats were from deeply discounted department stores. The clothes were...not it. They weren’t like what the other kids were wearing to school. By the time I was working and able to better dress myself, I still hadn’t learned how to dress for the fall or winter. Some of that was my own particular weirdness with the cold and how it makes me feel. Summer is ideal for less clothing and less commitment. Oh, and bright colors. I’d like to think I am a colorful thot: spring and summer are my time. I associate a general blah-ness to colder temperatures, so, I never invested in stepping it up. As it were, around the same time I moved to a city that requires a real jacket for cooler months, I started to believe I didn’t deserve nice things. And not just nice things, but trying to actually look nice.

    I talk about my private student loans every day of my life because there has not been a single day since my two allocated six-month deferments ended that those loans didn’t impact some aspect of my existence. They feel equal parts all-consuming and insurmountable. Although I have busted my ass and sacrificed so much to not let them totally sink me, over time, they have devoured a sizable portion of my spirit. Simply put, I have come to accept how my loans have impacted me and my presentation.

    The vision is probably worse in my head, but, I know myself. I know when I’m making an effort. I know when I’m not. I know when my efforts begin to wane and when they are on life support.

    After college, I’d treat myself to something nice every now and again. I was working. I was feeling responsible. I was trying to show myself—and perhaps everyone else—how despite debt and its deep, deep frustrations, I was fighting. Still, I haven’t really paid attention to clothes in some time. Everything’s become about the loans or medical bills or tax bills or trying to help others whenever possible.

    “Anytime I get to credibly compare myself to a rapper is a net positive.”

    This Saint Laurent Black & White Teddy Bomber Jacket brings me back to a time when I tried.

    It feels, uh, rich. That’s probably the worst explanation ever, but you don’t have to be an expert to know how some articles of clothing greet your body better than others. It fits perfectly on mine. I’m slender but packaged with broad shoulders and long arms. My waist could use a Keto diet, but we’re working on it. I wear the jacket open.

    I’m simple, but not basic. I don’t like clothes that are busy but I don’t want to look boring, either. This jacket is black, but the white stripes—notably the ones placed on the shoulders—are just enough oomph to give it character and bring attention to its details. See: rich.

    More than anything, this jacket helps me feel like Quavo, who along with Houston’s own Travis Scott, rapped about Saint Laurent’s virtues in “Saint Laurent Mask” from the criminally underrated joint project, Huncho Jack. Anytime I get to credibly compare myself to a rapper is a net positive.

    When it arrived, it was a little warmer than usual, and plot twist, I wanted Mother Nature to call Captain Planet and ask Old Man Winter or The Night King to blow a little wind over New York City so I could wear this outside and see what the lick read.

    It was wearable without risking excessive perspiration on a rainy, dreary Saturday morning. I wore it to meet my best friend, andré (he prefers a lowercase aesthetic and I continue to respect that), and he just smiled. He’s my fashionable friend who has a real career in fashion. He’s also my unburdened-by-debt friend, who is more familiar with the finer things in life. I, on the other hand, have to publish one more book before I can credibly argue “God told me to stunt.” andré was so proud. He filled me in on a few things. Like, it was apparently good that I wore it in the rain because the jacket’s wool would soon adapt to fit my body better. All I knew was that it makes me feel like my favorite Erika Jayne lyric: “It’s expensive to be.” And when I put it on, it makes me feel like who I always saw myself becoming. I hope I don’t sound like I’m drunk on the intersection of Iyanla Vanzant and Robin Givhan here, but for real, for real, on my mama, on my hood, in that bomber jacket, I look fly, I look good.

    “I hope I don’t sound like I’m drunk on the intersection of Iyanla Vanzant and Robin Givhan here.”

    I’m working on finishing my second book. It focuses on how being born into inequality and lack of access, weighs on some of us, and how slowly but certainly, the mental toll it takes can manifest in our appearance and our health. Again, I know it sounds a little hollow, but really, sometimes putting on something nice reminds you of who you are—your worth.
    My loans may make me feel like a broke bitch, but necessities and responsibilities don’t negate that I must tend to my inner bad bitch every now and again. I hope you do the same. We deserve.

    Michael Arceneaux is the New York Times bestselling author of I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé and the forthcoming I Don’t Want To Die Poor.

    • Text: Michael Arceneaux
    • Illustration: Camille Leblanc-Murray
    • Date: August 1, 2019