We all have our fashion weaknesses.
We usually hear about people’s addiction to shoes, obsessions with bags, or compulsion for make-up.
For me, my bank-breaking, eye-watering, wardrobe-bursting, Achilles-heel is outerwear.
Blazers, coats, wraps, anoraks, military jackets, bombers. Velvet, suede, leather, fur, tweed, wool, silk. The brighter, or more eccentric the better. Give me oversized collars, intricate embroidery, rustic wooden buttons, contrasting trims, epaulets, pussy bows, satin-lined hoods, and I’ll go weak at the knees.
As we round the corner into the last month of summer, and look towards autumn, I swear to myself – NO MORE OUTERWEAR. Besides never getting to wear my entire collection as much as I should, due to the quantity that I have, they are bulky to store and take up far too much of my already very-limited wardrobe space.
I look at people who own one, maybe two coats, and have pangs of envy at how wholesome and happy their lives must be. I bet they have uncomplicated relationships, just brimming with open communication and emotional availability. I bet they don’t have credit card debt. I bet they enjoy going for walks in the countryside, on a Sunday, and don’t even need to go to the pub afterwards. I bet they read lots of worthwhile, important, literature, and not just Vanity Fair profiles, about Nicole Kidman, on their iPad. I bet they host stunning and memorable, impromptu, dinner parties with no stress or fuss whatsoever. I bet they buy wine that costs more than $14 a bottle.
I accept that I will never be one of those two-coat, streamlined, ‘simplicity-is-the-joy-of life’ people. That would be too easy, too straight-forward, too predictable.
Which is why it makes sense that out of all the glorious outerwear options, in the world, nothing holds my heart quite like the cape.
I love the cape because it is simultaneously the most practical, yet ridiculously impractical garment imaginable. It’s just so not of our time.
On the practical side, it’s warm – it’s basically a blanket – I mean, you could probably set up home in one if you needed to. The complete lack of sleeves means that it can be worn over anything, freeing you from worrying about having to take off blazers, cram it over chunky knitwear, or crushing exaggerated sleeves within the constraints of coat arms.
However, that lack of sleeves makes it impossible to carry anything, wear a cross-body-bag and it’s rubbish on dates because it’s so very awkward to hold hands in. You’re endlessly getting it caught up, and trapped, in doors and moving vehicles. It has no pockets. And every time you walk, your sweeping presence knocks at least half a dozen items off shelves and tables, meaning that you can never venture into cluttered antique or second-hand book shops whilst wearing one. Which is can be heart-breaking.
But when you’ve got one on, and you’re swishing down the street, with a slight breeze teasing the fabric into an elegant and teasing billow, there is nothing as whimsical, fantastic, or elegant as a cape. And that’s what it’s all about.
Which is why I now own six. I’m just casually living my own best Dandy life, y‘know?
I got a little panicky a couple of years ago when I spotted a military-style, fashion, cape displayed in the window of Forever-21. Had my style secret been rumbled? Was the cape now destined for the mainstream? Was my dearly beloved going to be embraced, then cast aside, by the masses, and suddenly my collection would appear so-last-season and untrendy (TREND – a word I never, ever strive for).
Thankfully, in the city where I live, capes aren’t something the masses would ever entertain or adopt, and it’s never became A Thing. New Zealanders are all far too attached to their uniform of black puffer jackets (sometimes grey, or blue, if they’re feeling risqué), to ever entertain such levels of frivolity. Which is fine by me, for I will let them have their puffers, if I get to have my capes, and we mutually agree to peacefully co-exist, and never our paths shall cross.
Up until last week, my cape collection sat at a happy five. Five capes. That’s enough, I told myself, at the conclusion of last winter.
For me, it’s really reminiscent of classic Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen – who I love more than any other designers, and if money were no issue, well…DRAMATIC, LONGING, SIGH.
At its essence, the garment, is a large rectangular blanket, with an edge of buttons, and a chunky drawstring, running across the upper length. Like all Miss Crabb garments, it’s designed to be manipulated and styled, in a myriad of ways, which is so clever and fascinating. You can see these various options on the website, for which I am thankful for, and I look forward to experimenting with over the coming months.
I knew the Mythology cape had to be mine the moment I saw it, and it being on sale – $150 down from $500 made it an easy decision.
The thing that makes it easy for me to invest in outerwear is that I know that if I buy quality, it’ll last me my entire life. And on that basis, I have no problem with this being where the majority of my wardrobe dollars go. There’s a reason why you can still find so many great 1950’s and 60’s coats in vintage stores – because they are made to last, and are timeless.
My Mythology cape arrived and it was everything I wanted it to be. Well, except that I had to thread the drawstring tie myself, which is a challenge. To be honest, I’d have thought that for $500 they could have done that for you. Thankfully I have lot of experience of this from sewing projects, and know some hacks, but I’d imagine it could be really daunting and infuriating without this knowledge (TIP: a pen is your best friend).
It might still be the height of summer in NZ, but do you really think that’s gonna stop your gal from getting out and about in her new woollen cape? Oh no. Nothing gets in the way of my flaunting ways. Besides, if I collapse from heat stroke, you can just say that I passed out from being too damn fabulous!
I can’t wait for autumn to come so that I can wear this in true comfort.
Alas, in the meantime, I settled on a photo shoot, and taking it out to an exhibition opening where a teenager told me I looked like a princess (gasp!). Afterwards, not feeling quite ready to remove my cape from the world, I prolonged our date by following up with an Italian supper of sage butter ravioli, tiramisu, and an Aperol Spritz, because when you find that special someone in life, you gotta treat them like royalty.
Once again, I look ahead at these colder months and say NO MORE OUTERWEAR.
Though we know that what I really mean is MAYBE JUST ONE MORE, IF THE OPPORTUNITY ARISES.
Especially when that One More makes you feel like you could be Kate Bush modelling Vivienne Westwood, then it’s worth every damn dollar!