The Caped Crusaders
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No it’s a University of Memphis student! The latest fad to be sweeping the campus among art and theatre majors is capes. This unique ornament isn’t saved for a special occasion but worn with everyday clothes as a common accessory, whether the temperature outside is 30 or 60 degrees.
So why capes?
Theatre major, 23-year-old Margaret, explains her love for capes. “I feel special, with my cape, almost royal. It is may way of standing out, I feel as though I am beating the system.”
What she calls “the system” is the way that society pressures women to be a certain way and dress identical to everyone else. Margaret said that her need to be different from the crowd is what motivates her to wear her cape.
“When I wear my cape in public it is like I am standing up and saying, ‘I’m here, I’m extraordinary, and I am unlike this conformist flock of sheep surrounding me!’” says Margaret as she spins around and points to the herd of students exiting campus.
Margaret says she is proud of her cape and will wear it anywhere in any weather. “This cape is like my trademark. When people see me, they know they are going to see the cape too.”
For some people, capes aren’t about being different or making a statement. For 22-year-old art history major Alice, wearing a cape is more personal for her.
“When I was 14 my grandmothermade me this cape by hand,” said Burcham as she stroked her embroidered initials on the cape. “She died a few years ago and I wear this cape in remembrance of her.”
Alice says that even though people stare at her in confusionof her tribute, it doesn’t bother her.
“I know why I wear it and I don’t feel the need to explain that to anyone else. This makes me feel closer to my grandmother, I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.”
Other students wear the capes as a group effort to show unity in their group of friends.
Morgan, a U of M theatre major, wears her cape along with six other girls in their own secret society. Their goal is to change the world one cape at a time.
“It’s a form of expression for us, to tell the world that they can be different from the masses, ” says Morgan. “I feel that what we are doing is important and one day we are going to make a change.”
Morgan explained that her group is made up of girls that she has known for years and they are divided up into “chapters” at three different colleges, and all of their capes are identical. “We are a peaceful group and we are trying to promote diversity in the mainstream world.”
Whether or not these capes are worn in tribute or as a diverse fashion statement, the wearers seem to be fond of their garb and happy with the attention they get from wearing their cape.
Are capes going to be the next U of M fad? “I really don’t think so,” says marketing major, Candice. “I just don’t understand the point in them and I think they look kind of silly on adults.”
Nathan, a U of M engineering student says, “Don’t you have to be a drama major to wear one of those? I think I’ll leave that fashion statement to them. I think it is there way of trying to prove to us that they are more cultured than we are or something.”