Normcore has a lot to answer for. For at least a decade, this relaxed, dressed-down style has had us in its grip. Its combination of preppy, peppy vigour with the essential comfort factor has made it almost irresistible. What could be easier in the morning than to combine a pair of chinos with grey marl and gold sneakers?
Easy, for sure but when you walk out of your house and find that everyone else in the street had the same idea, then perhaps its a signal to change tack.
My wake-up call came recently and it came in the shape of a Vilshenko cape. This garment is the opposite of ‘normcore’ in its purest form. Where chinos and sweatshirt telegraph simplicity and practicality, an embroidered cape signals gratuitous joy in every stitch. It won’t protect you from a snowstorm. You can’t wear it to cook or do anything practical really. It doesn’t have pockets.
What it does have is instant impact. Whenever I wear it I am suddenly conscious of eyes on me – even more so when I pair it with a Maison Michel fedora. It never fails to attract comment and the very best kind of comment: those that remark on personal style rather than an overt enquiry about where something came from.
Clothes like this promote a different bearing. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford knew the power of a pair of sharp shoulders to draw up the posture and streamline the silhouette. They showed us the transformational power of a hat – even a simple beret: witness Bette in full Orry Kelly splendour, peeling off her gloves on arrival at Cascades in Now Voyager. It is an unforgettable sight.
So goodbye normcore. It was comfortable while it lasted and my feet are certainly grateful but now I need something more inspirational. Let’s hope it doesn’t snow this year.