Susan Dromey Heeter's Budget Vogue: Button your coat, and call her Imelda

By SUSAN DROMEY HEETER March 18. 2017 5:46PM

This month, we pose the question: Of what are you the Imelda Marcos?

Lest you not recognize this allusion, Ms. Marcos is the former first lady of the Philippines who left more than 1,200 pairs of shoes behind when she and her husband fled the country after a 1986 revolt. Ms. Marcos is now a spry 87 years old and undoubtedly includes a few Velcro-strapped Easy Spirits in her current collection.

I am the Imelda Marcos of coats. I love outerwear and have quite a few options to take me from a slightly overcast day to a desperately frigid one. Today I chose a thick suede shearling coat and felt very Heath Barkley wearing it. Heath, fyi, was the youngest son on "The Big Valley" back in the 1960s, played by Lee Majors. He had a very cowboy rugged look and often wore this type of coat while riding his horse. When I wear my black leather jacket; I'm more Mrs. Barkley - Barbara Stanwyck had a lovely black fitted leather jacket she sported with gauchos. Fabulous.

Coats are great in New England; we can veer from 12 below to 70 in the same week; it's good to have a variety of outerwear from which to select. My closet bursts with choices from cashmere to nylon, from LL Bean to Kate Spade. In fact, one of my favorite finds was from the Salvation Army in Rochester - a locale at which I am a regular, particularly on half price Wednesdays. Early in November, a Kate Spade funnel neck puffer down jacket was at the end of the coat rack - black nylon with a polka dot lining. Fabulously chic, fabulously warm, fabulously $20.

When I asked my friend, Greg, of what he is the Imelda Marcos, he responded, "Underwear. I have a lot." My friend, Beth, is the Imelda Marcos of black pants - she says she has at least 30 pair. One of my students responded that she is the Imelda Marcos of hair ties. My colleague, Kathy, said she is the Imelda Marcos of blankets. "I don't ever want to get rid of them - I might get cold and I don't ever want to share."

A group of students - ranging in ages from 15 to 17 - were asked of their accumulations. After we settled the matter of "Who is Imelda Marcos?" their answers ranged from "I have over 50 pairs of sunglasses" to "My mother is the Imelda Marcos of frozen pizza - she has about 30 in the freezer."

As I wrote this column, I wondered whatever happened to Imelda. and found that she was allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991. While she still lives, mold and termites have ruined most of her shoe collection.

What a tragedy. If mold or termites go anywhere near my coat collection, heads are going to roll. Then again, should this transpire, knowing my Budget Vogue self, I'll simply return to my thrift haunts and replenish. Hey, maybe I'll invite Imelda should this be my case - and even though today it is not, maybe I'll invite her anyway. She'll be sure to say, "Yes! Get another coat, Susan!" And we'll thrill in our finds and bond over excess.

May you enjoy your own Imelda Marcos of whatever it is your covet. I'll see you next month wearing, of course, a new coat.

Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. Contact her at

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