What is it that makes a superhero? A childhood trauma that leads them to seek vengeance for themselves or justice for the greater good; exposure to radiation that provides them with superhuman capabilities; a cape?
Yep, a cape. It's definitely the cape.
A superhero may have power stemming from some other source. Perhaps simple genetic composition based on what planet they were born or perhaps supreme wealth that allows them the research and development of advanced crime fighting toys, but the cape is what provides their ability to blend and to change, and through it, the cape provides heroes with their confidence. And after all, what is power without confidence?
But what about the little guy? What about us poor average folk who aside from the very rare occasion (and arguably even then) would look plain stupid sporting a cape? It turns out that our version of a cape is a longstanding style staple, and the confidence it brings with it is tried and true.
For most of us, looking our best requires a certain amount of style know-how, but the end result can always be attributed to a collection of fashion pieces working in harmony to provide that look. Usually it’s relatively simple, usually it’s low-key, and usually, it’s a smart combination of material choice, garment cut, and worn techniques that layer together in an interesting and aesthetic manner.
When are you ever feeling more powerful, more fashionable, more confident than when whatever beautiful piece of top garb it is that you're wearing is flowing behind you in the breeze?
When your T-shirt is tucked into your sweatpants? When everything you have on us zipped up all the way, concealing you and constricting your movement like the blubber of a penguin? When you're wearing nothing at all?
If you answered yes to the first two, you're lying to yourself. If you answered yes to that last one, fuck you. Not all of us are genetically superior demi-gods whose muscles tremble and shimmer with every sexy breath. Most of us prefer some things to be left to the imagination and make the conscious decision to chalk it up to style.
To it, I subscribe to the notion that just about all of us look our best during the winter months of cold weather climates where there are simply more choices to express ourselves stylistically and more layers to be comfortably applied to an outfit.
So, whether it’s a scarf, a shall, a cardigan, a jacket, an unbuttoned button up, or those of you fortunate enough to possess long, silky locks, embrace the versatility of layering, and more importantly, let that top layer flow loosely.
This leads us to my theory - Cape Theory, which proceeds as follows:
The positive conscious and sub-conscious effects can be seen on an individual whose top layer(s) is (are) capable of adjustment at a moment's notice and drag upon movement, leaving the individual with the more options and portraying the individual as a more accurate reflection of the fashion industry's vision.
There are few feelings worse in life than running out of time or patience when choosing an outfit and leaving the home unhappy with what we’re wearing. It affects us more than we know. Lack of confidence in our physical appearance is obvious. Our movements seem unnatural, our mistakes seem amplified, and we altogether just seem anything but, well… all together. It can make us feel weak and keep our mind focused on our imperfections instead of whatever task is at hand.
No doubt we have all had the experience before and though we do whatever we can to avoid it, it will always come up again. But that’s where the easiest, oldest, and most trusted form of preparation comes into play – layering. If we leave the house in jeans and a t-shirt, we’re most likely feeling safe with that look. But if for some reason a certain combination seemed like a wise style risk when we depart, and shortly after, leaves us feeling self-conscious and regretting the decision, a top layer can solve all.
But a top layer, effective as it may be, sometimes leaves us with only one option: to cover up our mistakes. Cape Theory instead suggests a versatile top layer that doesn’t hide the problem, but fixes it. Sporting a piece capable of adjustment at a moment’s notice provides us with a smattering of options to repair our mistakes, and to change our look at any point even if we’re comfortable in our appearance. It’s like wearing multiple outfits at once and can reverse outfit-induced lack of confidence. Cape Theory also suggests that versatile top layers be worn loosely – unbuttoned, unzipped, unwrapped – because societal norms dictate that it’s more attractive.
The illusion of movement in fashion industry advertisements is no mistake. People simply look more natural and more appealing in movement than stagnation. Models' hair is blown messily behind them, poses are struck to simulate movement, and layers are generally worn loose in order to show off more versatility and to create the effect of drag - the idea that these models are moving at speeds causing wind resistance to leave their garments flowing behind them.
And though fashion ads often seem ridiculous and over-the-top, it's not so far fetched, really. We've all been walking with an unbuttoned over shirt or jacket when a hardy breeze takes the clothing from its position around our torso, to a flowing cape unable to keep pace with its hero. Though perhaps less refined as what the models in ads accomplish, it provides us the dramatized appearance of movement we see plastered on billboards and printed in magazines. So, when we walk passed a window of an office building and glance at our reflection in hopes of reaffirming confidence in our appearance, it can only be of aid if what we see looks less like an unconfident, poorly put together mess and looks more like what designers intended when they created our clothing.
At then end of the day, it’s important to remember that there’s a thin line between the negatively self-conscious and the narcissistic. Both subscribe to the notion that everyone is aware of their presence, but only one is confident in the idea. So, if we’re going to be worrying about what other people are thinking, we may as well set ourselves up for success by trusting in Cape Theory and being the super heroes to our own confidence.