In the rush hour crowd I try to maintain my distance so I don’t run into anyone. Rather than admiring the magnificent sights of the city, I’m usually focused on the back of the person in front of me. That’s when I see the occasional odd mark; an X, sometimes faint, sometimes bright white, on the bottom of the coat in front of me.
Chicago is a town of serious winter coats. Canada Goose or NorthFace down coats, or full-length mink coats. But some people still wear cloth coats. A lovely wool or cashmere coat is the right choice over a business suit, but the wearer doesn’t always notice the X stitched on the back. Maybe it’s the first time they’ve worn the coat, and they’ve overlooked this, like leaving the price tag on, or worse, they think it’s some sort of decoration. It’s actually a basting stitch meant to keep the vent of the coat closed and unwrinkled during shipping and while hanging in the store. The first thing you should do is snip those threads so the vent can work the way it is supposed to: it allows you to move.
Most of us buy clothes off the rack and expect them to be ready to wear. For women, especially, there are enough sizing options that post-purchase tailoring is less and less necessary. Petite sizing and pants in custom lengths make it a lot easier for me, but I’ll still have jackets tailored to ensure it doesn’t look like I’m a 10-year-old dressing up in grown-up clothes. But usually we are many steps removed from the garment construction process, and may even turn to a dry cleaner to fix a hem.
So I shouldn’t be surprised that, once indoors, there are other X’s to be found. I’ve stopped co-workers before to free them of the stitches on the vents of their suit jackets and the slits of skirts. Not everyone grew up sewing, so I guess I can’t fault them for their ignorance. I’ll bet these same people think their clothes don’t have working pockets because they arrive sewn shut. Perhaps it’s a massive practical joke played on us by the garment industry. Maybe women’s pants really do have pockets, or deeper ones, if we only knew which stitches to snip.