Attention, ladies and gentlemen who live in cold climates! On this, the first truly chilly work day of the winter, I am here to offer some unsolicited advice about cold-weather attire.

At this time of year, I see a lot of new coats walking around on the streets. How can I tell they are new? Is it that they’re clean and fresh looking, free of stains and wrinkles?

No.

I can tell they are new because an astonishing number of people either forget or do not know that they should pull out the basting stitch holding together the flap at the back of the coat before wearing it out in public. I see tons of people walking around with their new coats bunching awkwardly in the back because the flap has not been freed from its basting stitch prison.

See, when winter coats get sent to stores, they’re often shipped with a loosely-stitched “X” holding together the two flaps at the back. This keeps the flaps from getting separated in transit and one of them getting folded or creased all wonky. It also helps the coats look pretty and hang neater on hangers and keeps them from getting tangled up with each other.

I have drawn a diagram to help explain what I’m talking about:

Helpful diagram, lovingly drawn by me

When you buy a coat and take it home, you should use a scissors and (carefully!) cut this stitch out before you wear it. If you leave it in, the back of your coat will bubble up funny over your butt when you walk, ruining the lovely lines of your new winter garment and distracting the person walking behind you on the street, especially if that person is me.

Now go forth and freeze your ass off in style, friends.

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