Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Chengdu thrifting: Capes
At Chengdu's mostly unknown* secondhand shops near Chunxi Lu last weekend I was persuaded to try on a cape by the savvy shopkeeper who caught me eyeing it in semi-adoration, semi-confusion. She said something like, "Hey, you should try that on! It'll look great on you since you're tall!" Before I'd even responded she'd pulled it off its hook high on the wall and handed it to me.
(An aside: Here's a link to a great if heavy read on clothes shopping, with a long glance at secondhand-clothes shopping, from one of the very best blogs on fashion that I've seen.)
I wasn't sure about it because it didn't seem all that warm, nor all that functional (where would I wear it to? the opera? the Sichuan opera?) but when I asked the price, and was told it was RMB25--pre-negotiation--I was drawn in. To make a long story short, after much hemming and hawing I ended up buying two wrappy/capey garments--for a total of RMB25 (less than U.S.$4). I'm a sucker for a bargain, and I think that was a good one.
The culprit that started it all is some sort of synthetic woven that seems to want to be wool; it's fully lined with ties at the front, a ruffle trim, and a fake fur collar. It hangs about to my knees; I'm wearing it today for the first time and I have to say it's surprisingly warm. Today was a rare sunny day so I decided it would be warm enough and thus a safe time to take it for a test drive. I do wish it had arm holes so that I could keep it wrapped around me while I'm typing, but all in all I think it wasn't a bad investment. My legs are a bit cold (two pairs of stockings and shorts) but my upper body with just the Heatteach turtleneck, a shirt, wool sweater, and the cape is quite toasty. A female friend told me I looked "so cool" today; the man told me I looked like Zorro.
The second, which I've yet to wear because even after a washing and an overnight airing out, is still reeking with that musty thrift store odor, is basically a giant scarf shaped to drape over the shoulders and with a ruffle. I guess it's not technically a cape.
During the shopping one of my friends also picked up a cape that doesn't look all that far off from the one picture above; a plaid, hooded variety with small armholes. It's also quite cute, and apparently, we're right on trend for 2010.
*Certainly unknown to most foreigners; penny-pinching yet stylish middle-aged women know about them, as do Tibetan men and younger, "Bohemian" locals--at least that's usually who I see shopping there, in that order.