Mystery and romance in one garment: capes are your perfect autumn alternative to a coat or a jacket. Centuries long history of the garment seen it evolve from a simple round cut piece of cloth attached to the collar of the wearer to the elaborately decorated statement cover-up. Part of the standard issue uniform of the fairy tale princes, comic book superheros, Victorian Era as a whole and alluring Hollywood actresses of the 20s and 30s, since the 60s capes lost it’s overwhelming appeal and predominantly remained in the closets of people whose profession required this attire (military) and Comic Con and cosplay enthusiasts.
Though the fashion designers continued to produce cloak and cape variations, only recently has this outerwear piece risen up to become an in vogue attire of a modern fashionista.
According to the dictionary definitions of the term “cape”, it is a short sleeveless outdoor overgarment that hangs loosely from the shoulders. The “short” part of that description is defined as from the top of the torso to the hips, and because of that a cape doesn’t require slits for the arms, as lifting them wouldn’t be an issue with this length. Whereas longer styles (below the knees and all the way to the floor) are called cloaks, and those do require arm-openings. Capes, cloaks and mantles see little distinction in today’s fashion and are generalised under one word “cape”, so for the ease of understanding – everything in it’s maxi length past the mid-calf will be referred to as cloaks, and the majority of shorter versions – capes. Hoods and collars aren’t significant in the modern description of these garments as these details may or may not appear on either designs.
Back in the day, posh capes were trimmed with fur, embroidered and embellished, some finished in luxurious velvet or satin and meant to show off the wealth and status of the wearer. Luckily the society has evolved past this necessity and we can choose clothes according to our personal preferences: the styles on offer range from the minimalistic black, classic camel, military navy wool and khaki gabardine to lavishly embroidered, finished in bold colours and inspired by the fairy tales – all you have to do is choose.
by Olga Permyakova
Photos: Courtesy of Trussardi (Fall Winter 2016 Collection)