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The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger


I had an interesting encounter the other weekend, Fashionable Reader.

I was at a barbecue. You know, that thing, in the back yard, where you burn the meat?

This was no a high fashion event ~ suburban in location, and 30-something anti-hipsters in attendance. These were not my friends, I should add.

Now, where was I? Oh yes . . . the encounter.

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 cute white dress, 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).

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger
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.

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger




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.)

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger

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:
The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger  
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

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger  
2011 RT Convention ~ Richelle Mead, Jeanne Stein, Nicole Peeler, and Gail Carriger (in a cape)

For the Characters! 


For Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series



For Felicity in the Parasol Protectorate Series 

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

You can shop my recommendations via the following lists:
Steampunk, Retro Jewelry, Makeup, Retro Clothes, Lifestyle


Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I get a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.

Gail Carriger Demands More from a Tote

Periodically, I will go on an Epic Hunt, Fashionable Reader. These are shopping quests where I just keep searching, sometimes for years, for the perfect item. I can imagine Lord Akeldama might do something like. Accept no substitutes! Generally, this occurs when I already have something (or several somethings) that is/are working out but I really want the ultimate perfect item. What can I say? I'm a consumer.

In recent memory . . .

Gail Carriger Demands More from a Tote

The perfect motorcycle jacket. I wanted a bi-color (red and black) retro motocross style, that fit the Rack. After two years hunting I found mine, which looks very like the one above, in Exeter at the Real MaCoy's for 15 quid. I didn't get the red and black, and the zipper's missing its tag, but I still have and love this jacket. The white stripes continue down the back, giving it a skunk effect, but also improving visibility on the road.

Gail Carriger Demands More from a Tote

The perfect red retro bag. Needed to be the right red for all my other accessories, big enough to hold a paperback, shiny, and cute. Took me only a month to find, but I did get it online, and I paid mint for it. I was desperate, which must be my excuse.

Gail Carriger Demands More from a Tote

Men's style hunter boots (sometimes called dressage boots in the US) but in a woman's size and cut. Inspired by pretty much every hero of every BBC costume drama, I have wanted a pair of these boots for nearly fifteen years now. I still haven't found them. What I ended up with instead are these steampunk-ish Sam Edelmen's which I love. So I'm happy to keep looking idly for the hunters.

Gail Carriger Demands More from a ToteGail Carriger Demands More from a Tote

Well, Fashionable Reader, the Epic Hunt is back on!

And I didn't even realize it until I was int he middle of it (that happens sometimes).

This time it is for a tote. And like the bra of yesterday's entry, I may be looking for the impossible. Although this is far less frustrating, as I do have a substitute tote I've been traveling with for the past ten years. (It's starting to fall apart, though.)

Tote must be . . .
  • Black
  • Look enough like a purse to pass as a purse for the plane
  • Leather (or something equally cool & strong)
  • Zipper top (for security overseas)
  • Smaller front secure pocket (to hold passport and ticket)
  • Back zipper-bottom pocket, or handle hook (to slide over handle of luggage)
  • Wide enough bottom not to tip over when put down
Things I'd really like, but seem unlikely . . .
  • Retro touches
  • Large front slide pocket (to hold a magazine)
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Single strap or strap hooks (doubles always fall off my shoulder) 
  • No flaps (flaps get in the way)
That's not too much to ask, is it?

Well I found one almost-perfect at Ross the other day . . . but in dark brown. And I found this one on Amazon, has almost everything I want, but it's not all that pretty. I'm keeping it in reserve if all other avenues fail.

Gail Carriger Demands More from a ToteGail Carriger Demands More from a ToteGail Carriger Demands More from a ToteGail Carriger Demands More from a Tote

I suppose I'm mostly having one of those moments when I notice fashion designers have gotten into a rut.
  • Luggage has to look luggagey. 
  • Totes have to have two straps. 
  • Pretty purses can't have all the extra functional bells and whistles. 
  • Heaven forefend we attempt to combine style and practicality.
Oh, I see, I'm having an Alexia moment!
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