Fashion Victim: Winter-Weather Wizards Robes.
As soon as Halloween is over and we get that extra hour of sleep, it’s safe to assume that you can pack away your playsuits and hangover tanks and haul out your flannels, boots, gloves and jackets. While this biannual sartorial exchange is ostensibly fairly simple (ditch your lightweight cotton pants, stock up on tights and wool socks; hang up your unlined moto, bring forth the parka, etc), the range of winter-weather clothing is this weird, changing self-multiplying beast. Which is cool, you know, because how boring were the same knee-length, double breasted black jackets getting year after year after year. Fashion likes change, and it certainly loves options. But please, praytell, what’s the good in piling layer after layer of jumpers, ponchos, capelets, capes, fur singlets, and scarves? What happened to things with sleeves that fastened in the front and kept all of your warmth inside? Why are we all walking around looking like a bunch of wizards?
It’s almost as though everyone collectively forgot about appropriate proportions. If warm weather dressing meant wearing crop tops and maxi skirts, not knowing where your crotch was, and boots that thought they were sandals, the inevitable carry-over into the next season are coats that think they’re shirts that think they’re blankets, with or without sleeves. We’re a pleat and a seam away from wearing the equivalent of our snuggies outside, like a bunch of Williamsburgers.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good animal print, snuggie or not. And I loved seeing my favourite vintage stores stocked to the brim with those faux-leopard waist-length coats that were popping up everywhere all last winter. It was kind of cool seeing so many Edie Sedgwicks (and Edie Beales, for that matter) walking along Queen St. Spending what feels like six months of Toronto winter on a subway looking at a sea of black pea coats is undeniably boring, and since we can’t do away with the cold, we may as well do away with the blahs. If your head has been under a rock since the F/W 2010 shows, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the next colour you’ll get sick of seeing on the streets is that standby neutral camel, as evinced by the preponderance of this hue walking the runway and covering the blogs. That I can deal with (I’ve always loved a classic trench (in olive, no less!) or a brushed wool swing coat) but it’s this crap I can’t buy into. If it doesn’t have sleeves, and it doesn’t do up, you don’t have the chic-est new iteration of the next best coat, you’ve got a poncho.
And realistically, how the hell is that going to keep you warm? How is this “jacket” or this “stylishly plush cold weather vest” (um… lol) going to keep your arms from going numb and your teeth from chattering? Why is fashion trying to ‘reinterpret’ The North Face disasters that everyone was too embarrassed to be seen in after the age of eleven? Everyone remembers how cool you thought you were when you resisted the puffy down-filled coat your mom insisted you wear when the temperature started to hit freezing, donning instead the unaissably amazing (and sleeve-less) puffy down-filled disaster, on top of about four layers of long sleeved thermal shirts. It looked dumb then, and it still looks dumb now. Besides, how practical is it to wear something a bunch of starlets in LA were wearing over t-shirts and maxi dresses when we’re in the single digits?
The only way to make these make sense is by wearing them in multiples. Take your self, put on two or three layers of tights, maybe a pair of over the knee socks, a skirt or dress with long sleeves (or make sure to put in a long-sleeved layer UNDER a short sleeved dress), a sweater, a knit jumper, a waist belt to keep all your non-outerwear in place, AND THEN you can start to think about pulling on your vest, your elbow length gloves (an obvious necessity since your jacket doesn’t have sleeves!), and THEN your shawl or cape, for good measure. By the end of it all you’re as round as the Stay-Puft marshmellow man and you’ve got enough layers on to make a bag-lady (or an Olsen twin) jealous.
And sure, there are loads and loads of ways to make capes look good. There are oodles of blogs and runway looks that make capes look put-together and smart. Everyone was eating shit out of the palm of Chloé’s minimalist hand when wave after wave of camel coats and capes traipsed along the runway. Cool. Beautiful. Tailored. Pretty. But in this instance I’m firmly entrenched in a function > fashion mentality that if the crap you put on to keep you warm does not succeed in keeping ALL of you warm, what’s the point.
And let’s face it, why do we need to look to American mass-market brands when, if we insist on wearing our coats like blankets, The Bay has had that shit on lockdown since 1670.