Friday, 7 December 2012

Capes for the Cold









The last wheezing breaths of autumn have dispersed – replaced with bitter wind and frosty mornings. Although the days are occasionally golden, the trees are bare. I had the chance to witness some magnificently beautiful weather recently when I visited Oxford – the sandstone and spires glowing in late afternoon light; stars like silver pebbles at night. But these visions were always offset by the cold. Views were admired whilst clad in several cardigans, faux fur and leopard print gloves. Meandering around the city required long boots with socks tucked inside. Moving from outdoors to indoors resulted in the shedding of many layers. Good coffee and conversation provided warmth, but I still ended up outside with bare feet in the snow at 5.30am one morning thanks to a false fire alarm.
This obsession with temperature is ridiculously British. We're characterised to the point of cliché as being a nation resigned to rain, fog and grey clouds. Unfortunately, it's true - not a country known for its balmy nights and perpetual sunshine. Some claim this has made us resourceful in the way we dress, while others assert the exact opposite. What might be seen as an exciting challenge in layering for one person is a step too far for another. For indeed, when it’s pouring, what will be of more use – an anorak, or a pretty but ineffectual brocade coat?
I’m afraid I usually choose the latter. Despite living among the tangled green hills of the rural West Midlands, I’m not the most pragmatic of dressers. I bought proper walking boots for the first time a mere few months ago. I only submit to raincoats if absolutely necessary. I’ll always take the full-length kilt before jeans. I've swung over barbed wire fences in chiffon and had tassels snared by brambles, all due to an unwillingness to match attire to surroundings.
I’m getting better though. Now I get carried away with idealised images of bucolic country-wear – reveling in tweed coats, thick knits and sturdy shoes. At least these are all warm.  
Perhaps what I'm trying to express is the tension faced between ‘form’ and ‘function’. For those more interested in style, then form usually takes precedence. The overall look becomes more important than functional requirement. This is perhaps the only reason that heels continue to be worn  – for they are certainly not a pragmatic choice. They epitomise the aesthetic being prioritised above practicality; they're decorative and fabulous, but hardly suited to long distance walking. Similarly, various clothes cited as being perfect for winter seem to exist in an alternate universe where clouds are banished and streets are never wet.
But perhaps that’s part of the fun – dressing merely to stay cosy and dry would be a much duller experience. At least, that’s what I tell myself. However, the gap between form and function can be bridged through choosing items that are both warm and wonderful. Capes are an ideal example. The history of the cape (and its longer cousin the cloak) is one of synthesis – what was once a practical outer layer worn to protect finery beneath became a form of ornamentation and expression in its own right. For indeed a cape is magnificent. It cuts a dash, allows for swishing around corners and envelops you in a woolly circle of warmth. 
Indeed, when it has yellow panels and a rose-scattered lining like this gorgeous Asuyeta cape I was sent, it becomes a statement. It's a joyful clothing choice; dramatic enough to sate my desire to dress like an Angela Carter character, and warm enough to withstand early morning chilly train platforms. It's the perfect balance. 

Big, big thank you to Erika for the delicious hunter cape. She is the owner and designer of Asuyeta (a Cherokee word meaning 'chosen') and she also makes all the clothes on the website herself, meaning that each is a one-off - an individual echo of the original design. She describes her pieces as "clothes with a soul. No mass-production. No sweat shops... Just unique, beautiful designs." They certainly are. If I wasn't already the lucky owner of this one, I'd definitely want it on my Christmas list. It is styled here with an array of second hand clothes and accessories. 

24 comments:

Willow said...

Gorgeous, dramatic photos. And what a fabulous cape! Stunning belt, boots and hat too.
I am so envious that you can wear all that warm winter wrapping! It gets hot at 7:00 am now! (Although there is the bonus of it being light by around 4:30 am)
I can definitely relate to dressing impractically for rural living!
Stunning backdrop (as always!)

janettaylor said...

What a gorgeous cape!

Marla said...

Beautiful cape, magnificent photos.

Aimee said...

I love that cape! great photos!
http://anfnewsnow.blogspot.com/2012/12/an-and-hollister-girl-in-america-chic.html

Isa said...

Well, didn't Mies say form follows function? And most of what he touched came out with beautiful form. I think that heels, while largely aesthetic, have exactly that as their function: to change the overall aesthetic of the female form in a way so as to make it adhere to certain standards of attractive.

I love everything about this outfit, btw, literally everything. The textures, the cape, the shoes - it's perfect.

http://lasaloperie.blogspot.com.br/

Sacramento Amate said...

Everything you wear becomes dramatic and stylish, my dear Rosalind.
I can spend hours in each and everyone of your photos.
Much love and admiration ALWAYS.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Emalina said...

What beautiful, wild and wind swept photographs. Your outfit is gorgeous, the cape and hat particularly magnificent, and you look like you've just stepped out of a woodland fairytale. Sublime.

vintagefrills said...

That cape is gorgeous. Lovely outfit and photos. xxx

Helen Le Caplain said...

Now that is a spectacular cape, helped in part with the dramatic photography - really like this :)

www.mancunianvintage.com

FASHION TALES said...

A delicious cape indeed! I have such an appreciation for handwork as you know and adore the cape. I have been enjoying mildly volatile weather, but actually looking forward to snow when visiting family for holiday. Phenomenal photos Roz! Also loved your Tax post! xo

Bella Q said...

I keep buying/collecting capes and then don't wear them- they look a little too "high school drama teacher" on me. But I LOVE them!

I am now obsessed with weather- must be the rainy climate.

Closet Fashionista said...

I am in love with that dress!
And I totally know what you mean, it's more fun to go for form over function. Though some days (like weekends) I do go for function and comfort and wear huge sweaters that make me look like an old man, ha ha :)
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

jamie-lee said...

I think it's also some us Kiwi's have... probably heralding from our British ancestry (the obsession with the weather that is), not that it's the worst possible thing to be obsessed with.

Loving these very dramatic photos. the cape looks gorgeous on you!

Vix said...

I adore that cape on you, it's a piece of art! I have a ridiculously big collection, I tried selling some over the weekend but everyone who tried them said they were "too scared to wear them! xxxx

shipshapeandbristolfashion said...

That cape is stunning, and I love the way you've styled it. I'm the opposite in that I relish a decent pair of walking boots and I have even been known to wear the odd pair of waterproof trousers, but I only wear them in the most dire of situations.

vintagevixenarts said...

Wonderful Cape, and beautiful shot's! You reminded me to bust out my vintage cape from my Grammy( It's leopard on one side and black on the other)Double the fun!Happy day to you Miss Roz!xo Dawn

Fashionistable said...

Loving the pop of yellow offset by the grey and wow to the red and green belt. There is a real trick to keeping warm and looking good when it is sooooo cold outside. You cover it very well here. Xxxx

The Foolish Aesthete said...

I think we readers are happy you've elected to choose form over function. Your ochre cape nearly puts nature's gold to shame!

I must admit I've had the same insistence (it seems against the men in my family) of form over function since youth. I still remember so many arguments with my dad about some highly functional (but very dowdy) coat, warm, formless boots, or even digital watch (I wanted something antique, with hands, preferably attached to a chain!). Alas, the aesthetic arguments have continued with my husband ... but fortunately he shares my tastes much more than my father does. -- J xxx

SabinePsynopsis said...

What a beautiful cape. The colour and patterns are divine... so are the photos! By now I realised I'm able to moan about any climate - which does not diminish my weather obsession one bit. xo

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

Even though I don't actually have one, I am crazy obsessed with capes. They looks so awesome. This one is especially sweet!

I actually really like the British "country look". I lived in the UK for 5 years and my (then) boyfriend's parents had a house in the country side. I always loved going for walks there and really liked the clothes that went with that.

odysseyhome.com said...

The cape is simply fabulous.
I'm obsessed with temperatures, too, and I'm not British - although it seems I developed this fixation while living in a British Territory, so... ;)

Ditsy Print said...

Beautiful images, so stunning and I love the cape!

Izzy/Bella said...

A cape IS magnificent. I agree. Plus as far as my winter coats go, it's all I can wear at the moment over my enormous belly. I love the stunning yellow against the blue sky in these pictures. There is something instantly dramatic and fun about wearing a cape...

xx
Izzy
www.misdaventuresofme.com

Jessica Buurman said...

love this look.
you look wonderful.

http://www.shopjessicabuurman.com/lookbook-street-fashion_c314