No matter how often I attempt to declutter both my closets and drawers, I discover my feeble attempts at becoming a fashion minimalist always falls short. Something always prevents me from moving forward.
I have followed the experts on organizing and their advice on how to purge your way to a simpler life living a modest existence. They all seem to advise on getting rid of anything that has remained unworn for six months. Clean it out, box it, and get it out!
It is not a complicated process for most people, and for me, there is always a dilemma each time I attempt this undertaking. I just cannot seem to move past the clutter.
One of my problems is purely a strong attraction for fashion capes. I have more capes than I possibly can wear, especially living in a warm climate.
So, what is it about wearing a cape that I love so much?
My affection for wearing capes dates back when I took sewing in home economics at Burdick Junior High and discovered the creative world of tailoring via Simplicity and McCall. The joy of constructing an ensemble using a paper pattern template made me feel like an early version of a Project Runway contestant. It was so liberating to find a creative way of uniquely expressing who I was by what I wore.
Despite the word Simplicity, I sometimes found the intricacies of the pattern directions to be a little complex, so I took on simple projects like making A-line dresses with floral patterns, elastic waist pants, and small purses and sack bags. Then expanding from my desire to be more fashionably creative, I discovered the magic of making capes and ponchos. My simple designs included embellishing them with ribbons, buttons, clasps, and, of course, the fringe.
The thrill of frills was always my signature. My creations could have draped the shoulders of any girl at Woodstock or the models along Carnaby Street in London. They could easily have worn my designs, presenting great panache.
So, what is the joy in wrapping myself in a cape?
When I put on a cape, I feel lifted under the fabric while feeling unrestricted and free. Alongside is a sense of sophistication, in contrast to feeling plain ordinary.
Even if you don’t feel the same, think about the history that tells us fashion capes have been popular for centuries. Capes, also referred to as cloaks and mantles, date back to medieval times, and not until the Victorian era, they became recognized as a fashion symbol. Women back in time who wore bright-colored capes were considered to be of “good breeding” and part of high society.
Victorian women were not the only ones that felt the allure of a cape. Magicians and superheroes found wearing a cape useful in executing their powers for entertaining or protecting us. In concealing themselves mysteriously or revealing their magic powers with flair, their costume was as important as their skill.
And let us not forget the most famous Cape-wearer of them all
—I never play without my cape. -- Bela Lugosi
While we recognize the highbrow style of the past, we can still see this fashion phenomenon's influence today, from popes to royalty to our entertaining performers.
While I disagree with the concept of “good breeding”, I do recognize the idea of owning one's style can make the person feel elevated. You do not have to be a royal to put on a cape, and if there is some underlying connection, I’m okay with it. If wearing a cape is good enough for me, then it’s good enough for Queen Elizabeth.
God knows I have enough.
Is there more to just the whimsical appeal of wearing a cape?
Apart from just wanting to share the simple joy of wearing a cape, there is a practical side to this story. It is the value of wearing a cape that serves as a practical utility. As a dedicated geriatric professional, I’m always trying to grab the attention of those that can benefit from helpful advice. I have worked with many seniors with challenges, both cognitive and physical, and the simple task, as putting on a sweater can become a huge undertaking.
There are many health conditions like a stroke, dementia, Parkinson's, and arthritis, which can make a simple job of getting dressed into a frustrating experience. Using adaptive clothing can help solve this challenge. Chestnut Street, a company I've become acquainted with, offers solutions. I recently connected with them via Instagram, and after sharing ideas about our work and our clients, they offered to send me a few of their capes.
How could I possibly say no!
Arriving in just two days, like an early Christmas gift, I opened the box excited and prepared to test them out. My first impressions were, the fleece fabric was so soft, and I loved the colors they sent me, black and cobalt blue. The design is simple. Two round holes, making it easy to slip your arms through, for both the individual and the caregiver. I even sat in a chair putting them on using one hand. I recommend practicing since you can wear it either opened in the front or the back.
Me in my new capes!!!! I apologize for my limited skills taking selfies.
So, there you have it. I’m happy to report that I have an addition to my collection and my closet and, while I will continue to work at trying to live a more minimal lifestyle, I still feel the need to cherish my capes.
So, as I wrap up my little story, I wish to thank my sewing teacher at Burdick Junior High School, all the fashion trendsetters that have and continue to inspire me, and Julia at Chestnut Street.
Thank you all for encouraging me to continue expressing myself and be who I am by what I wear.
**For more information on Chestnut Street please visit their site @ https://www.chestnutstreet.com/
By Jill Modell-Dion the creator of Aging Creative who also, lives in Cape Coral Florida.
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