As Maggie Semple celebrated its second birthday last week, there is only one way in which I can pay tribute to this great success, by writing about my own ‘treasured garment’, my cape coat. When I first bought what may seem to many as an ordinary Topshop coat, I was overwhelmed by its initial captivating beauty, its leather panelling, deep navy blue colour and fur trimming on the collar, even though to my dad it was just a tent like shape, which he assured me would not keep me warm nor shield me from the rain.
However, like with all things in life such as friendships, marriages or loved possessions, cracks do form, the true identity of a person is always revealed and unfortunately the cape coat is no exception to this rule. For instance, the few times I take a very uncool rucksack to work with me, the sides of my cape curl up in the most unflattering and unstylish way leaving me resembling the hunchback of Notre Dame. Additionally, there is no hood, which means that I must be armed at all times with an umbrella to prevent me from turning into a dishevelled version of my former self. However, on the odd occasion when these do occur simultaneously and I turn up appearing as a drowned Quasimodo, which is quite an eye catching spectacle all for the wrong reasons, when I remove my rucksack and towel dry my hair the original classic beauty of the coat remains. The coat speaks for itself, is practical yet dramatic, transcends seasons, can fetch a compliment even when you least expect it and its value to me increases every day.
The coat shape itself is also remarkably historic; stemming back to the 1890’s the cloak was associated with royalty and power. Though I may wear the coat differently to the princes and knights, and may not be armed with a sword or find myself in a battlefield, there is still something very heroic and commanding about this coat that makes me feel as though I can achieve anything when I am wearing it. Yes, it is not particularly warm and doesn’t shelter me in adverse weather conditions, but it will always have slouchy warming pockets and be a fashion fuelled flattering shape. Over these past three years it has faultlessly accompanied me from autumn to winter and into spring, on blissful crisp countryside walks and through the less appealing times of broken boilers and early morning freezing cold walks to the train station. It is for this reason above all others, why my cape coat is my treasured item, and why I am committed to keeping it as an integral part of my wardrobe for eternity.
Whilst there may not be a great family history or memory behind this item of clothing that makes this coat particularly special, it has, however, become a great symbol that reminds me of the fact that the positives of life, especially when it comes to fashion, will always outweigh the negatives. As the designer Mathilde Castello Branco says in December’s Elle magazine, ‘of course, fashion has to be practical because we no longer have someone who can do up 20 buttons on our backs, but practical should never come at the cost of glamour’.
By Hattie Lee