Monday, February 25, 2013

the ultimate cloaking device

Forget news about ghost illusions to hide objects and episodes of Star Trek; the ultimately cloaking device is none other than...a genuine fabric cloak. As it happens, I have a velvet cloak purchased from Siren, a goth store once located in downtown Toronto, but now expired. Unfortunately, it's generally too warm to wear it here in LA. And my metaphorical skin wasn't so thick the last time I wore it on the Santa Monica 3rd street promenade one cool(ish) October evening about 10 years ago. October! Believe me when I tell you: you haven't lived until you've been called Dracula by a homeless man. Ahem.

In any case, cloaks are the kind of practical garments that, in my opinion, should make a comeback because they also come with style, drama...I believe the best word is "panache." Until such a time as fashion culture gets bored with reviving the 70s and 80s and decides to take a look to such noteworthy garments as cloaks, there's artisenal cloak-makers to fill in the gap. Scott Rogers kindly took the time to answer a few questions...

Let's start with a bit of historical context. At what point in time did cloaks cease to be a staple in people's wardrobes? Do you see a chance of a mainstream revival, or will cloaks remain a niche garment for the foreseeable future? 

Cloaks and Capes have been around for ages. They are long, loose outer garments designed to protect wearers from the elements. These garments fasten at the neck with one or more hook and eye type clasp (or pin), and is made from large amounts of fabric so they can be draped over various layers of clothing and close fully in front. The only difference between our Cloaks and Capes is that a Cloak has a hood, and a Cape has a collar instead. The garment is made so that one can be quickly covered when needed from any type of environment. Since cloaks provides maximum protection, many cultures include them in their history. 
They are not used as much today because we have better learned to control our environments, however still very popular in certain parts of the US and the world. They are still worn on a daily bases in parts of New England and the South as well as throughout Europe. Movies have played a part in their recent revival in the US. Movies for example like Sleepy Hollow, and Harry Potter, have reminded us of the function and grace they have always played in our societies.

Niche garment as it may be, it seems like there's nevertheless a robust demand from Ren Faire aficionados, SCA members, and others. How would you characterize your clientele? 
Cloaks and Capes do play a major role in Ren Faires, Reenactments, and SCA events. However, there are many other unrecognized uses for Cloaks and Capes today. For example we get many requests from physically challenged individuals, and older members of our society. Todays zippers and snaps on coats and jackets can be a problem. The use and ease of a clasp cannot be understated. We also receive many requests for wedding cloaks which can provide a more affordable alternative than a traditional wedding gown. (see our wedding cloaks and capes) In addition, cloaks are often worn by various members of the clergy for many different occasions from weddings to handfastings. Of course, cloaks are fun to wear too for role playing games, holiday celebrations, and simply a joy to wear in general.

How did you come to start 
I started making Cloaks and Capes because I found that most cloaks on the market were simply cheap halloween costumes, made for very very petite individuals or were not made in the USA and were extremely expensive. I started making a few for myself (many trials and errors) then started expanding with different fabrics and trying different patterns at other peoples requests. I finally decided to create a place for my hobby of making quality Cloaks and Capes made to last, that would be available to fit anyone.
What are your favorite stories about customers who had you make their dream cloaks? 
Not only do we LOVE making our Cloaks, we also get great JOY in helping people find the perfect cloak for themselves, even if it's not from us. This is why we encourage communication prior to ordering. Personally, I love making wedding cloaks. I feel very honored to be a part of someones' special day. It's also been extremely wonderful creating cloaks for wheelchair bound and/or physically challenged individuals who cannot easily manage todays' outerwear. 
How are the cloaks made, and how are you able to offer so many options (materials, clasps, etc.)? 
Many cloak and cape patterns are out of print and/or are simply not compatible with today's fabrics. Cloaks are made with large amounts of fabrics which need to be compatible in weight and care. This is why we will not work with costume fabrics (like acetate) and are very careful mixing outer fabric with inner linings. Our cloaks are made to last a lifetime, not just one or two wears like most "costume" cloaks on the market. We choose to make real cloaks for real life wear. Same with our choices of clasps. We found that using button or tie closures use more wear and tear on these types of garments.

Where do you hope to take over the next few years?
Fabrics come and go with the seasons and new fabrics are always being created every year. Its always fun to learn about new fabrics and try them out as a cloak or cape. It's been a joy of mine for many years and always will be. "Dream Cloaks" can be fun indeed, but they do need to be realistic to sew and create. When thinking about your dream cloak remember to take into consideration, fabric bias, weights, and cleaning and care instructions!
Finally, what cloaks do you yourself wear, and how/where do you like to wear them? 
I have different cloaks for different seasons. For example, in the winter I wear the "Dicken's Cape" which I made from black wool, and opted for a blue cotton lining so I could wear it with jeans or dressy attire if desired. (see our Dicken's Cape) In the warmer months I wear a reversible broadcloth cape. Holidays I opt for a Panne Velvet Cloak. I wear them either mid-calf or ankle length depending on the season.

Many thanks to Scott for the interview and for providing the images for this post. For more cloaks and capes, visit

Friday, February 22, 2013

frivolous friday challenge: reader's choice

I quite like collarless shirts, much as I like Nehru jackets, for their sleekness. Of course, the result can be a rather priestly look. For this Cubavera shirt, I opted against a severe all-black ensemble that would really make me look like a vicar. Instead, I paired the shirt with my re-use jeans and a pair of biker-style boots. The overall ensemble isn't earth-shattering style, but it was effortless and, in my view, a departure from the usual collared-shirt-and-jeans look.
A word about the boots. The brand is Natha Studio, and they were a semi-accidental purchase from DSW. (I didn't set out to buy them, but I did need to replace a well-used pair of ankle-boots.) Of course, I should have gotten myself some Fluevogs. Still, I like the harness detail, the fit is comfortable, and they add a slightly roguish quality to any outfit.
Click ye the images to enlarge.


I'm struggling with a cold (again!), so I'm not feeling very inspired to come up with a theme for the next challenge. So, feel free to make up your own.

Reader's Choice

If you have something to share, please send along a pic or two, along with your thoughts on the outfit, to me by the end of day Thursday, February 28th. Where? The usual:

Friday, February 15, 2013

the return of frivolous fridays: tarts & vicars

Becky may have left us to focus on her own blog, Pump Up the Frump (which you should absolutely check out), but her cheery influence lives on. That's right, it's the return of Frivolous Friday challenges, and we begin with a movie clip:

Ever since seeing Bridget Jones' Diary I thought it would be fun to have a tarts and vicars party. It just seems like a marvelously, wickedly silly thing to do. That hasn't happened yet, so the next best thing is a Frivolous Friday challenge with, you know it, the theme of...

Tarts & Vicars

As with past challenges, the goal is to use the theme to find inspiration for new outfits, whether through brand-new clothes or creative combinations of existing items in your wardrobe.

Here is the rule, and by "rules" I mean "loose guideline:"

Don't be literal and dress like you're going to walk Hollywood Boulevard at night, or take confession, or take confession on Hollywood Boulevard. Unless you really, really want to.
Wear your ensemble in the coming week, then snap a picture and send it along with your thoughts on the outfit by Thursday, February 21st at 17:00 (Pacific Standard Time). Send it where? Here:

Have fun!

Monday, February 11, 2013

upstairs/downstairs: ferragamo and trash & vaudeville

Greetings, all. I'm switching my regular posting day to Monday so I can free up Fridays for the return of...well, you'll have to check back on Friday to see what. In the meantime, this week's post is more  bout eye candy than yakkety-schmaketty, with contrasting fashionable offerings from the street and the runway. Let's call it the Upstairs/Downstairs post. Click images to enlarge.

Starting off, a few images from Salvatore Ferragamo's Spring/Summer 2013 women's collection. Although I normally don't tend to feature the high fashion designers because there are plenty of other bloggers who do, Demi Moore's impressive boots from last week's post inspired me to look at what Ferragamo had to offer. It was worth the look. Elements of futurism underline streamlined designs that feature an elegant use of material, texture, and asymmetrical lines, along with a playful tweak on form as demonstrated, for example, but the open-toed over-the-knee boots.

For more pieces from the S/S13 collection, click ye here. And in case you're wondering why I'm not sharing images from the men's collection: the bright colours of Ferragamo's menswear designs, while admirably bold, nevertheless give me a headache.

Moving on from the elevated runway to the gritty streets with just a few pieces on offer by Trash and Vaudeville, a New York rock 'n roll fashion institution since 1975 offering brands such as Tripp NYC, Tripp Darkstreet, and others. Admittedly, some of the pieces are throwbacks to the 80s (sometimes in an appealing way, sometimes not), but there's no denying their edge. It makes me miss the goth clubs here in LA, as well as Melrose before it priced up.

As it happens, I acquired a very cool jacket from Trash and Vaudeville. But you'll have to wait for a future outfit post to see it. Until then, there's always Trash and Vaudeville's website to bring you in touch with your inner punk.

Note: Ferragamo images borrowed from Salvatore Ferragamo's website under fair use for illustrative purposes only. The same applies to the images borrowed from Trash and Vaudeville's website. As usual, I will remove images at the copyright owner's request.

Friday, February 1, 2013

through the crushoeble

How about some shoe porn? Yes? Okay, follow me through the crushoeble…

These Aline sandals by Alexander Wang are fearlessly simple and, as result, supremely stylish. I love the upper calf strap, but I am concerned about how the vamp squeezes the toes together – not a very foot-friendly design detail.

 To give you an idea what the sandals look like on a pair of feet and legs, here’s a recent picture of Karolina Kurkova at Pasadena’s Langdam Hotel wearing the Alines at a panel for a new reality show this year called The Face.

Next up are these over-the-knee leather peep-toe boots – I’d actually say they’re more than peep-toes, but that’s quibbling. Despite the fact that Demi Moore looks very different to me these days, she sure does rock those boots, which I believe are from Salvatore Ferragamo. The word fierce is overused – thanks, Tyra Banks – but entirely appropriate. I can imaging the boots growling in the closet if left unworn for too long. I'll have more on Salvatore Ferragamo in a future post.

Photo By Donato Sardella/WireImage

Of course, no shoe roundup would be complete without a few Fluevogian delights. The Mini Bees Knees takes a spats-inspired designs, injects a lot of buzz, and comes out stunning in the way only a Fluevog shoe can. These lovelies succeed in being both retro and modern at the same time.

And for the guys, have you seen Fluevog’s Swordfish designs? This is a new colour in their Cooper line, that is , an all-black shoe. I don’t think I could pull it off, but I admire it all the same.

Finally, Mohop is no longer offering their Ready-to-Wear line but are, instead, offering a collection called Moped. Available in four different heights (flat, low, mid, and high), the ergonomically carved mopeds feature flexible soles, a cushioned faux-leather footbed for comfort, and sustainably sourced wood, all made in the US. And how about this: the mopeds come with arch support and concave-cupped heels. Janet from Mohop relayed an interesting morsel: they source their wood (cherry, maple, and walnut) from fallen trees in their local parks. In keeping with Mohop’s unique designs, the mopeds also feature ribbon loops that allow for a dizzing diversity of configurations. Here's their mid height moped:

And I've been assured that Mohop designs for men are very much on Annie Mohaupt and her team's minds, so don't despair, men. Our turn will come.

There you go.

What are your favourite shoes? Send me a photo and a description of why you love that particular pair of shoes, and I'll feature you in a future post! eMail

Image disclaimer: Fluevog shoes images borrowed from Mohop sandal images borrowed from Alexander Wang sandals were just found lying around the internet. Image of Demi Moore has already been credited above. All images are the property of their respective copyright owners and are used her under fair use for illustrative purposes only. I will take them down upon request.