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Vintage Style In A Modern World

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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


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Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger

Some time ago now, Gentle Reader, I fell in love with a coat. Fortunately for me it was practical, for it was a rain jacket that packed small without wrinkling but was still relatively warm, it was both modern at retro feeling, and it was Christmas. So the Mum bought it for me. Yay, mums!

Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger

It doesn't look like much on the hanger but once put on it has this great noir feel to it.

Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail CarrigerOde to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger

This coat has done me proud. It's gone all over the world with me, even through a spontaneous blizzard (hello, Seattle). It dresses up any given outfit. It has a zipper front (so it fits over the rack) and a sash belt (so it nips in at the waist). It's a good length, I could have done with bellow the knee and I might have opted for camel or taupe, not black, but black was what they had.

Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger
Dan Sawyer photo shoot at Balticon 2009

Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger
With my publisher in Australia in 2010


Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger


Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger


My coat even got on a cover!

Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger


So the look of this jacket is quite retro, even though I got it new.

Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger
1940s  Timeless Vixen Vintage; 1940s Day Dress

Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger
1948 Mainbocher The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ode to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail CarrigerOde to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger
1950 Christian Dior “New-York” via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1952 Charles James The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger Then & Now ~ Red CoatOde to a Stylish Black Raincoat by Gail Carriger

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