I am in Yorkshire. It is raining. Obviously. However, since my new find I am excited about this rain. It’s been sunny in London since I purchased the Short Rain Cape from Norfolk-based Carrier Company, and while this is very welcome in some respects (and must not end for a minimum of seven months please), I have hardly been able to contain my excitement in regard to wearing my new bit of kit.
You see this cape is just about my wet weather everything. As a shorter lady, this version sits just below the knee in an elegant fashion (although is available in two longer lengths) and the cut is just, well perfection. If it was ever possible to look elegant and chic in a green rectangle of waterproof fabric, this is it. And not only look, but also feel. I feel as if I glide along, fabric draping perfectly from my shoulders, smugly dry shouldered underneath. Dry and stylish, and just like Barbour it is a style that crosses ages easily, but gives you a lovely alternative to the sweat-inducing (let alone just not that Vogue any more) Barbour.
This purchase is the latest in a new direction I am trying, which interestingly in some ways harks back to my early twenties flirtation with a skater aesthetic. Carhartt have been a go-to staple for skater types for decades, and I have recently re-embraced their chinos and shorts as elements of my new grown up look. Strong, mature-coloured hardwearing cotton drill chinos that sit nonchalantly on the hips, and incidentally they make your ass look incredible. Bound interior seams and perfect finishings add to the appeal to an adult connoisseur, a person to whom quality is key.
What is it about work wear that has such appeal? The fashion industry are constantly throwing colour and shape and texture and more and more at consumers, maybe this is a way to take a break from this sensory overload? Arguably the most important man in fashion wears only a blue multi-pocketed French work jacket. I am talking of course of the original doyen of street style, Bill Cunningham. In the beautiful film documenting his work, he explains why these jackets are perfect for him as they have pockets for all of his film and pens and things, they are hard-wearing and they are practical. Bill is a very gentle man, who has very simple tastes. His ‘uniform’ consists of his work jacket, cotton shirt, chinos and dress shoes (lace-up boots if it’s winter), and to me he is the most refreshing person to have ever existed in the fashion industry. A stylist I used to assist once said to me that you can tell a good stylist a mile off, that if she looks a bit dull in the clobber department it’s because she spends her time making other people look fabulous, and not all of her time making herself look fabulous. This quote always stuck with me, and I think this is adding to my current draw to such style, having now been a stylist now for over a decade.
Suffice to say, in true fashion industry style, you’d be hard pressed to find Bill’s jacket for ‘about $20’ any longer, which ironically is what he paid for them before he made them such objects of desire with scores of people wishing to pay a little homage to the king of street snappers. The Norfolk Work Jacket from Carrier Company is one that comes very close to the holy Bill grail. Currently priced at £68 it is certainly not the most expensive variation either. The images on their website show the jacket sun-bleached and weather-worn beautifully, evidence that such pieces create their own life from the life of their wearer. I admire a company which promotes long life, and an investment in their products, as opposed to the throw away nature so often employed when trend is involved. I think work wear is almost an anti-trend, so maybe that’s the key.
I feel, at the moment at least, that I am alone among my peers with this look, which obviously appeals to the stylist in me, but also the blank canvas, practicality and quality of the pieces is in line with my tutorage that as a creator of other people’s looks I need to retain a simplicity that inspires trust. Trust that I am 100% in creating the fabulous for my client and that I am 100% concentrating on them. After all, what’s a celebrity without the self-centred ego hmm? There’s no wonder when thinking along these lines, why it is that artists traditionally wear smocks when creating art.
In the Chanel atelier, all of the staff wear custom white work jackets. If it’s chic enough for Chanel, well. It stands to reason that garments which are held in lower regard than your day or fancy clothes are bound to create a much richer tale of life. Cheap, hard-wearing, neutral pieces of clothing chosen so as not to distract from the (often messy) creative process- being that stitching for Karl or trawling oysters in Dublin Bay. With pockets. Work wear is your own self-couture, buy it, live it, make it your own.