Why I hate the swing cape

English: Line art drawing of a child's bib.
English: Line art drawing of a child’s bib. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Designers borrow from decades past. They borrow so much that children of the 1990s and and early 200s sometimes wonder what will remain for their reminiscence… and that’s how we got those lousy reality shows. Most of these “bring back the 50s/60s/70s” remain bearable because they pluck the good stuff and leave the awful behind. Poodle skirts do not come with overt racial segregation.  (Still a work in progress, acknowledged.) I’d like to say that tie-dye is not accompanied by a great big fight over the birth control pill, but at least in US America seem to be in a backslide on that one.

Sometimes, however, the awful finds its way back. In the case of leggings, it also wandered back to improvement once we dropped pairing them with bubble hems in neon colors. Now, leggings serve a lovely place as a warm and more durable substitute for hose. While not great for formal situations and sometimes mistaken for pants (a loose interpretation at best anyway) ultimately it has transformed. I wish I could say the same for shoulder pads. But no, padding shoulders improves nothing and some retailers have simply decided to take those pads, sew them into bras and aggressively con women into thinking their unnecessarily padded breasts look “better” under the false assumption that “bigger = better.” For the C cup and up bras they insist on sewing that crap into, ultimately bigger = a lot of questions from strangers about potential back problems. That’s the problem with all fashion thinking of itself as aspirational – there are Congressmen and college professors more in touch with up to date reality.

The latest comeback falls to the swing cape. Blame the coming Great Gatsby movie, new easy-sew faux fur and just running out of ideas. Yet again, my complaint goes back to a childhood fashion trauma. It happened as yet another unnecessary fashion embellishment. The dress I wore to my boyfriend’s senior prom came straight from a 1950s pattern – I used brocade intended for curtains never made, and convinced my mother to put in a crinoline. It had a sweetheart neckline. It looked utterly unlike any other prom dress in style in 1993, and I looked amazing. (I was spared any mockery for refusing fashion trends I couldn’t afford by simply going to a prom at someone else’s school.) Then, because she could never leave it alone, my mother made a swing cape. This wasn’t a long one either that might add a touch of drama. It came just above my breasts and below my shoulders.

She made me a fucking bib.

Even my boyfriend at the time, who found dances and dresses and all those little implied details impossible to read found the bib absolutely hilarious.  When purging photos of my past, I found a picture of him, posing Superman style in that bib. It made me laugh so hard I almost kept it, then I thought better of it. No one should have to remember the mental disorder that resulted in making a bib for a prom dress.

As you know if you follow this blog, I spend a lot of time poring over fashion week photos. While I can’t always interpret how trends will popularly interpret into middle class ready-to-wear, I can see some things coming that make me want to duck and cover. The thing raising my flag from this past fall fashion week?

The bib is back.

I’d rather have Britney. I don’t even like Britney (her music) all that much. (Her, I don’t know. She seems OK when she’s sober.)

Obviously, my dislike is based on making a fashion accessory best suited for summertime lobster feasts and rib cookouts. If a designer just made them in plastic and sold them paired with a golden barbecue sauce, I’d be down.

But really, it’s the same reason I dislike the bolero jacket. It creates choppy proportions. It takes the problem of shoulder pads to their polar oppositie, making the body look like an attempt at a bullet. It feels like an unnecessary embellishment.

With so much 1920s fabulous out there, why pick the one thing absolutely not applicable to modern life? Seriously, people even go to movie theaters in their jeans to see opera screenings in my city – the fancy must fit what’s fancy now. Most of those occasions rarely involve volunteering as a human cannonball.

I’m sure the option for bib capes will be out there. I dare my readers to send pictures of yourselves using them as lobster bibs!

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