Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Coats, cloaks, capes, and other final outer layers seem to have a special fascination. In one sense the coat is our first presentation, the first word, if you will, in our apparel statement. But its also our first best layer of protection, both literal, and figurative.
Being one of our oldest garments, since it relates directly to the hides we wrapped around ourselves in our long ago past, it has a deeply rooted psychological power that cannot be denied. We took those hides onto us, not just to keep the elements at bay, but to take onto ourselves the perceived qualities of those animals we hunted successfully. In that sense, a coat maintains to this day an aspect of sympathetic magic. A coat transforms the wearer, in part because it so often covers a good deal of the body. It can conceal us, masking our bodies from view, or it can accentuate our body shape in some way we desire. It can broaden out shoulders, or create the illusion of a smaller waist counterbalanced between large volumes above, and below. It can narrow us, widen us, lengthen us or shorten us visually. Coats are routinely worn largely for warmth or other elemental protection, and so the feeling of being safe, and cared for, is implicit within the wearing of them.