Sunday, October 9, 2016

Breaking out the cape... (including some cape-buying wisdom)

Activity: Volunteer ministry

Cape: vintage via ebay (sort of similar - try vintage shops or eBay)
Top: Uniqlo (exact)
Skirt: Charlotte Russe (similar)
Boots: Dolce Vita, thrifted (similar)
Bag: GiGi New York, via ebay (similar)
Sunglasses: LOFT (similar)
Earrings: pearl studs, gift (similar)

Ah, the cape.  The quintessential fashion item that tends to divide those who get it from those who don't (although it's entirely possible I'm one of the "don't get its").  What's funny to me is that an item that seems to come from a very practical, utilitarian, non-fashion place, now seems like the essence of "fashionista wear", at least judging by various reactions to the cape as a fashion choice.  

I made my first forays into Capeland last year, once I figured out that the climate here in San Francisco seemed quite conducive to wearing a cape more than that one fall or spring day in the Midwest that is warm enough to avoid wearing an actual coat, but cool enough to necessitate a woolen top layer.  I'm not sure why, but it had always been a "back-burner" fashion goal to find and wear a cape.  So last year I first bid on this one on eBay, but in a "silly-me, I forgot I already bid on one cape because there's such a long time before the auction ends" kind of way, I ended up bidding on and winning not just one, but two capes.  That did feel a bit excessive.  I thought the second one would end up much being more versatile because of the solid gray color (see how I wore it here and here), so I planned to re-sell this one on eBay.  However, I soon learned that all capes are NOT created equal.  The really tailored, small slits for arms kind are quite nice looking, but not practical for driving at all, unless you want to feel like a tiny-armed tyrannosaurus trapped inside your outerwear.  For me, this was an issue.  I also have a young child of the male (and crazy) variety, so limited arm mobility can be a problem. (I need all the advantages can get, these days.... ;) )  So while I didn't photograph this cape last year, I actually wore it relatively often, while I ended up gifting the other, seemingly awesome cape to a friend who had admired it  (she hasn't worn it yet that I've seen however, so perhaps she suffers from the same trapped-arm issues).  

So this year, when a cape-weather kind of day came up recently, I was rather excited to pull this guy out again.  This particular cape was made in Wales, from what seems to me to be a classic style from an old pattern type, and it actually proves why capes can be very practical.  For example, this one is very versatile in size, since the belt is adjustable.  So no needing a new outer garment if you put on or lose a few pounds, you just adjust the belt.  This would be especially practical during pregnancy, right?  It's also very flattering, what with said belt and all.  In addition, it's rather flexible for temperature variations, since it accommodates a variety of clothing underneath (as opposed to a very fitted style wool topcoat), so could be layered depending on the weather.  I think I could actually use this when traveling to cooler climates in fall or early winter as a very versatile outer layer, depending on what I used underneath.  (Now let's hope for a fall or winter travel opportunity!)  Lastly, this version gives free arm movement for child wrangling, always a practical option.

Here's a quick purse/cape wearing tip: Put your small cross body bag on after your clothing, but BEFORE you put on and fasten your cape.  This will prevent it from messing with the line of your cape, or from falling off your shoulder.  You could also carry a top handle bag instead of a cross-body.  Skip the shoulder bags with this look.  Note: This can make it interesting buckling your seatbelt while still wearing the cross-body bag, but nothing a determined, well-dressed individual cannot overcome.

I cannot conclude any post about capes without including at least a momentary mention of fashion reactions.  These are actually fun.  People in general, but especially males, appear to be somewhat fascinated - or perhaps mystified - many non-fashion-inclined men seem to take inordinate interest in this particular piece of clothing (not in me, you understand, but in the actual piece of clothing I'm wearing).  It's so funny to see them eyeing it to try to figure out how it fastens, or for the more tailored version I wore last year, to watch as my arms disappear inside the arm slits to reach my purse (which I wore slung cross-body UNDER my cape).  So. freaking. funny.  The day I wore the outfit pictured above, a cafe owner I've known for a while, who has never made a single comment on any item I was wearing, saw this cape and said "I like your.... what do you call it? Poncho?"  It was cute.  So, I guess you could call it an ice-breaker.

Any cape anecdotes?  Do share!

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