I have spent my fair share of time sitting on bleachers. Not all of my girls remain athletes, but they all played at least one team sport because I really loved all that goal-oriented bonding, especially among girls. (Of course, it is a little vicarious as I vividly remember life pre-Title-XI and would have loved the opportunity to run around with a field hockey stick... I am biased.) You name it, someone played it. Soccer, basketball, golf, volleyball, and thank goodness only minimal amounts of swimming because THAT is a real commitment.
So I've spent a lot of time as a spectator, and through all those years, more often than not, I was doing it wrapped in one of our lambswool capes. It can make it that much more comfortable to watch your child play. (Or adult, for that matter; I used to go and watch Sid play basketball in a gym occasionally when we were in our early twenties, but it was so crazy to watch all the men get worked up and yell at each other that I had to quit it. It was fairly routine male aggression but I lived in fear that a fight would break out and I just couldn't wrap my head around all that intensity.) Anyway, the cape. If I needed some extra padding on the aluminum of the bench seat – and if my shoulders could spare the warmth – I would fold it into a little pillow to sit on. It's first and foremost a fashion piece, though. I have a few, in plaids and solids, and throwing one on makes me feel instantly chic. At the first hint of fall, when the ends of the days get chilly, I will wear my grey one over white jeans and a t-shirt. Even if I am still in sandals! Very California looking. It's low-commitment outerwear. And the black one serves as my evening coat to throw on over anything fancy. (Nothing is more of a buzzkill than trying to stuff an elaborate sleeve into your everyday overcoat.)
Capes have been on my mind not just because of the weather, but because I came to the rescue with one fairly recently. My daughters have asked my advice over the years (some more than others) and this particular request was for packing help for a weekend wedding in New York in September... and at 10pm the night before she was to leave, which, to be fair, was just about the earliest I could get to it, too, so being a last-minute person myself, I didn't lecture. It runs in the family. The temperature was going to range from 75 on arrival down to 40 on the day of the ceremony, which was on Governors Island, and OUTSIDE! I can usually toss out advice at the drop of a hat, but I was at a total loss here. It wasn't stockings and covered-feet-at-all-costs weather yet, but the usual solve-all sundress was NOT an option. And no one wants to show up at a wedding in a parka. It took us a couple of hours of pulling clothes out of the closet, throwing them on the bed in piles, sighing dramatically, questioning who would ever choose to get married in 40-degree-weather... but we figured it out. She ended up wearing a floor-length dress in black silk (a relic from junior prom and still so chic!) with heels and my blackwatch tartan cape. She was both dressy AND warm... and looked like she could be the lead in Outlander. It is one of my favorite success stories to date.
I can hardly say enough about how essential this piece of clothing is to me. Not quite the security blanket of my early days – but nearly! I take one on every Europe trip in September and February. If I don't use it as a coat, it will have served me well on the plane, either rolled up as a pillow or something more substantial than that slinky little blanket they give you (in coach, that is...) If you are having a really bad time of it, it's big enough to put over your head and hide out under, a little tent to tune out until you wake up in another time zone. New beginnings...
I love them in every length. The long is more dramatic, but not too much for my five-foot-two frame... though I can feel a bit like Drosselmeyer from the Nutcracker if I'm moving fast enough to make it catch the breeze... and that may not be a bad thing! The shorter ones are simpler, and if you don't enjoy the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket while driving, it's probably a better length for you. (Though my youngest daughter enters the passenger seat every morning with a big, synthetic "cozy" blanket made of horrible furry fleece wrapped around her legs like a sarong underneath her school uniform skirt... the cape is a major step up from that.) The lambswool ones are wonderful and sturdy, but a cashmere one is to die for... and you will never regret the extra money when you feel it. It can also get folded up and draped over your couch at home, truly multi-tasking as a fashion AND home accessory. The taller women in the shop wear it belted in the center for wearing inside, and it looks amazing. It becomes more of a poncho, which is also a look I love. I haven't gotten Sid to borrow it yet, but it worked really well on Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Maybe worth a try? So now it is for you, your home, and any male in your life. You just might need one.