So there I was, the two-year-in girlfriend amongst His Friends of twenty years or so. Also in attendance was a Very Fresh Girlfriend of one of the fringe members of said group. Clearly nervous, she enters stage right, a lovely fashionable young thing.
Now, to set the scene, I am wearing a little white dress (see future blog entry), tights, and riding boots ~ very de mode. However, it is cold and damp, so over it all I have my favorite black double-breasted rain cape (I happen to own three capes total).
black double breasted & belted from Max Studio, $130, thrifted vintage cream wool, no label, $25, faux fur from H&M $15
Now this new girl, either in an awkward attempt to make conversation, or just because she is, well, a bitch, says, "Oh, is that a cape? Not everyone can wear a cape. I should never even attempt it." It was the tone that threw me. It was said in that way of catty southern ladies, "Oh, she has put on a few pounds, bless her little heart." I simply drifted away and on to a far more interesting conversation on the relative merits of DC versus Marvel comic books. (Marvel baby, all the way.)
To the meat of the matter. I disagree with the principle of the statement made by Very Fresh Girlfriend as well as the execution. I think anyone can wear a cape. They are delightful fun, one feels rather comic-book-ish (Marvel, I hope, not DC). The belted cape is a good option to prevent loss of shape.
On the practical side the cape allows you to layer in fun and flattering ways. You can wear full or puffy sleeved jackets and then throw the cape on for extra warmth or rain protection. On the impractical side it is difficult to carry a shoulder bag with a cape. (You'll notice most of the street shots bellow have clutches or handbags.)
Capes can be mod or retro, outrageous or rather tame. On can take basic black and give it some pep, or add an air of mystery to an essentially mundane outfit. And, they have been all over the runways for the past couple seasons.
Birna Reykjavik Fashion Festival, Fall 2011
If you are slightly shorter of stature, a short cape is probably a better option. Regardless, if cut in the right way in can disguise rather than enhance the chest.
And they come for a long and distinguished tradition.
1895 Emile Pingat cape via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1905 Jean-Phillipe Worth evening wrap via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1933-1934 Elsa Sciaparelli cape via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
"A mackintosh cape, one of the thinnest and lightest possible to procure. should always be carried to protect the shoulders in case of a sudden shower, and a fur cape for chilly evenings or east wind will be found a most comfortable addition." ~ Lillias Campbell Davidson, 1889
2011 RT Convention ~ Richelle Mead, Jeanne Stein, Nicole Peeler, and Gail Carriger (in a cape)