My Favorite...Fur Coat
Fashion blogger Courtney Kerr shares the story behind this cherished vintage piece, a coveted hand-me-down gift from her grandmother.
Courtney Kerr loves inspiring ladies with her popular fashion blog, What Courtney Wore. Turns out, this vivacious fashion lover owes much of her sartorial inspiration to someone close to her heart. Here's why this coat feels like "home" to her.
So, tell us about this special coat. "The coat actually belonged to my Mimi, who is my mom's mom, and she used to wear it back in the '80s when I was in my young childhood, and in the '90s, and I always ogled over it. I thought it was so glamorous, fantastic and beautiful."
Can you tell us about your grandmother? "She and I are very much alike: we're total fashion freaks, we have ten closets—like, every closet in our home is filled with clothes and shoes—and we don't want to throw any of it away. So I get that from her. As a child, I didn't play sports and I wasn't really into Girl Scouts or anything like that, so one year for my birthday, my grandmother gave me a dress-up box [filled with] clothes that she didn't donate. Instead of donating them, she put them all in this big trunk for me: wigs and shoes, this elaborate clothing, and I played dress-up. And that was what I did as a child. I didn't play with dolls or legos or anything like that."
So you got your love of fashion from her! "Right. But she never let me touch the coat. The coat was off limits for the most part, unless she was supervising me while I put it on. So I always was obsessed with this coat, and for my 30th birthday, she actually gave it to me and had my initials monogrammed inside of it right above hers. And I think it's really special. It was made in the '60s or the '70s, and it was a gift to my grandmother from my grandfather for one of their anniversaries. So it's vintage. I would never go out and buy something like that, but hopefully I'll be able to pass it down to my children one day."
Can you share a memory of wearing it? "Two years ago, that huge snowstorm hit New York in February '13 during Fashion Week, and 16 inches happened overnight. Me and my girlfriend, a fellow blogger, had to get to a show the next morning, so I threw on my coat because it's the warmest thing in the closet, and we were maneuvering in the snow across the street, and Bill Cunningham, the legendary fashion photographer from the New York Times––it's an honor to be photographed by him––stopped us and snapped a picture in the street. PETA was all over me. I didn't buy it. It's vintage, I would never go out and buy fur now. Since then, I got a rescue dog and my mom has gone vegan, so there are a lot of elements in my life that are obviously about promoting animal rights, but [the coat] being a gift from my grandmother, it kind of holds a special place in my heart."
How do you style a vintage piece to make it contemporary and your own? "I think when it comes to wearing uber glam pieces like that, it's totally my personality to do something totally unexpected, like pair it with black leather, a beanie, and aviators, and make it edgy––versus making it super girly and over the top. Part of my style is to do unexpected twists with fashion. And especially with that coat, it's so memorable, it's such a statement piece, it's almost like you have to mix it with a really blank palette."
Do you wear a lot of vintage? "Not that much. In Texas there's not that many vintage stores, so I try to collect it when I travel. But I have collected a couple of pieces…I think part of being a fashion blogger is, you always want to wear something that's different, you always want to wear something that's unique and stands out. Especially when you're going to events, heaven forbid if you show up in a similar outfit or the same dress in a different color as somebody else. I think when you shop vintage, you know there's a little bit more authenticity and originality. Nobody else can go out and buy this!"
Funny how life can go full circle. Now with your blog, you get to inspire your readers, just like your grandmother inspired you. "The blog started three years ago after I did the first show on Bravo, The Most Eligible Dallas, and girls were emailing me asking, 'What lipstick color were you wearing on episode three, minute two?' So I decided to create this blog to curate all this content that was kind of a love letter and homage to the fans being so interested in what I was putting on my body. And it was an answer to all the questions––in one place. Once the show ended, I fell into this audience that was really interested, so I became a blogger. If you would have told me ten years ago that's where I would end up, I would have been really surprised! But I love being able to inspire girls, from New York to Dallas to LA to Idaho, whether they're a size 2 or 42, that they can look in their closet and mix and match things in a creative way. From the blog, opportunities have come up. I've done two collaborations with Baublebar, and I have a design collaboration with Gorjana, my first design collaboration, which I'm really proud of, and it launches May 12."
Finally, when you see the coat hanging in your closet, what are some of the memories and feelings that come to mind? "For me, getting dressed is an emotional thing. It can hide a bad day or it can highlight a good day. Or, you can dress for a certain mood you might wake up in—it's not just about dressing for the weather. I'm not getting dressed so other people go, 'You look cute' or 'You look pretty' or 'I like your outfit.' I get dressed every morning because it allows me to feel confident. It's my creative outlet, a way to express a mood. That coat is home to me; it makes me feel comfortable and confident."