I still remember my favorite outfit in my mom’s closet growing up. I would save it for last, because I knew that I wanted to wear it the longest. It was a soft pink Simon Chang suit; a short sleeve blazer paired with a knee length pencil skirt.
I thought it was divine. I didn’t understand why my mother didn’t insist on wearing it everyday- I would have if I had the option! Sadly, I never wore that beautiful Simon Chang suit outside my mother’s closet. Mostly because my mother was a size two and I was basically born a size two, but also because when I was finally old enough to “borrow” her suit, I began wearing a hijab and a short skirt just wouldn’t cut it.
Thus began my journey of finding my perfect Simon Chang suit. It didn’t have to be Simon Chang, but it had to give me that same feeling. Suits are meant to be powerful, and command attention but I could not find anything that fit that. There were close seconds, but something was always off. And what I’ve learnt is to never buy anything my heart doesn’t absolutely adore the second I put it on. Because that’s how you end up with a closet of “maybe’s.”
In school, when I looked at suit patterns and how the fabric would sit, I couldn’t help but feel I was creating something that was suffocating. I loved the structure and the silhouette that came with it, but I hated how rigid it felt. How could I recreate a powerful silhouette, and still be able to move comfortably?
Blair Waldrof wore an emerald green cape on Gossip Girl (somewhere in season three, I think). I fell in love with it and there in between episodes of binge watching Gossip Girl, I began drafting my first cape.
And it was awful- a nightmare really. I would draft, cut, sew, draft, cut, sew over and over until I created one with perfect shoulder darts and with the right amount of flare. Finding the fabric was the best part, because I realized how much I could do with a cape. I used suiting fabric, and Italian wool. I made one out of lace and organza for fall weddings and a knitted cape for Sunday errands. I was in love.
When I started designing my EMAN IDIL DESIGNS Fall/Winter 2016 collection, capes were my focus. Something about a well-draped garment makes a woman feel so regal and put together. It was my power suit without the stiffness. And to be truthful, I could never understand why we didn’t see more capes in stores. They were perfect- a combination of elegance and authority.
I never did find my Simon Chang suit, but I did find something that created that same level of confidence. I think that we are drawn to certain garments not only because of how they look, but also because of how they feel. I mean sure, we walk into a store and fall in love with a pair of pants on the hanger…but once we put them on, it might be a completely different story. The trick is to always find what you feel most like yourself in. And for some of us, that’s Simon Chang pencil skirts, and for others, it’s anything with drape.
And I think that designing my first cape set the tone for the rest of my wardrobe. I never wanted pieces that I felt I was “supposed” to own. I don’t wear button up shirts, I don’t wear A line dresses and I don’t actually have a LBD.
Written by Eman Idil Bare
Fashion Editor at THE DEMUREIST and a Canadian based journalist who also writes for Teen Vogue, Huffington Post and Muslim Girl. She is also a reporter/producer for CBC News.
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NOT WEARING PROPER FITTED CLOTHING IS KILLING YOUR BODY CONFIDENCE