What is a Cloak? Cloaks vs Capes.

what is a cloak vs cape

Cloaks and capes both provide warmth and beauty in a sleeveless garment made of a single piece of cloth that fastens at the neck. However, their differences are greater than their similarities, making each uniquely stylish and functional. Popular in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, their flair for elegance makes them a favorite of the fashion conscious today. Their graceful movement lends an air of sophistication to an ensemble while providing protection from the elements.

Choosing a Long Cloak or a Short Cape

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of a cloak is that it is a long garment. A cape, on the other hand, is so short that it usually stops at the hips. A cloak is typically floor length although designs that reach only to the calf are common.

Finding the Earliest Cloaks

Cloak | CloaksLong before cloaks became fashionable, they served a more practical purpose. Probably originating as fur skins, they provided warmth during the day for prehistoric man and bedding at night. A simple leather strap may have held the garment in place around the neck as cavemen performed routine survival tasks every day.

The shape of a cloak allowed it fit comfortably over the prevailing styles of the day. Achieving a peak of popularity in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a cloak was an accepted part of any ensemble. Long enough to accommodate a rider on a horse, a cloak was an essential garment for keeping out cold weather while traveling.

Choosing Capes for Fashion

Without the need to provide warmth for the entire body, capes can keep the back and upper torso comfortable with style. Usually no more than waist length, they made elegance a feature that enhanced the appearance of any ensemble. As decorative garments today, they incorporate a range of fabrics that provide lightweight protection from the elements.

Adapting Capes and Cloaks for Utilitarian Purposes

Capes vs Cloaks | Cloaks vs Capes

Neither capes nor cloaks have sleeves, but allowing the arms access to grasp or hold objects was important in the earliest designs as it is today. The abbreviated length of capes that end at about waist level pose no restriction of movement, making sleeves or openings in the fabric unnecessary. Cloaks, however, are usually heavy, and they virtually trap the arms underneath the flowing garment. A slit in the fabric on both sides allows the arms to extend without restriction.

Stylistic Purposes of Capes

Capes.com | CapesAs a decorative piece of apparel, capes can incorporate delicate designs that accent an ensemble without the need to provide protection from the wind, rain or cold weather. They do offer some warmth for the back, but fabrics that are colorful and ornamental provide the accent that cape wearers seem to prefer. Usually open in the front, capes do not block the view of the underlying ensemble and typically enhance it.

Choosing a Cloak Fabric

Used for centuries to provide a brace against the wind and rain, fabrics in cloaks were durable and remain so today. The heavy weight of a cloak fabric adds to the elegance and sophistication of the garment, allowing it to swirl around the lower extremities and show off the quality of the material.

Long after the skins of wild animals were no longer needed as cloaks, wool became the fabric of choice. From the beginning of the Dark Ages starting roughly in 800 A.D. through the end of the late Middle Ages, cloaks were extremely long. The sleeves of women’s dresses were long enough to knot, a practice that many used to shorten them for practical purposes. In later centuries, cloaks were often used to indicate social status, and silk was a fabric that conveyed the desired impression to the lower classes.

Felted wool and fleece are preferred fabrics for cloaks today, offering warmth and durability in a variety of colors. Stylistic choices of velvet or washable cotton are suitable for contemporary cloak wearers who enjoy creating a sense of drama by adorning a garment that is uniquely beautiful.

Types of Capes and Cloaks & The Differences Between Capes and Cloaks

In ancient times, cloaks and capes were worn as important styles of dress to indicate an individual’s rank. Members of the higher classes as well as scholars wore these clothes to represent their status. Capes were more common for women while cloaks were more often worn by men. These clothes were symbols used by the elite classes to alert lower classes of the presence of noble ranking individuals. Cloaks and capes are both considered common types of outerwear even today, but the two are often confused for one another because of how similar they are. In reality, the two styles of clothing have many differences. The main difference between the two styles is the design of each type as well as the purpose for which one is worn. Traditionally, capes are now worn as a form of fashion while cloaks are worn to protect the user from the elements.

Read more “The Differences Between Capes and Cloaks”

The cape, not to be confused with its full-length version called the cloak, is a shorter, sleeveless outerwear garment that has been commonly worn since it became vastly popular in medieval Europe. But just how far back in history does the cape go? Who wore capes (or cloaks)? To get a better idea of the cape’s history, we have to go back into Ancient Greece and Rome. Read more “Historical questions about Capes”

Important Cape Questions

Capes, in a nutshell, refer to outer garments that lack sleeves entirely. These garments cover the chest, arms and back in full. They come together at the neck as well. Capes aren’t too common in most peoples’ closets. People frequently associate them with fictional superheroes who save the world. That’s not to say that capes can’t make great fashion statements. They’re bold, daring and fresh. They’re also relatively common in certain parts of the planet. If you pay a visit to the beautiful Scottish Highlands in the United Kingdom, you may notice many men sporting classic Inverness Capes. These capes are topcoats that are devoid of sleeves.

Their Origins

These garments seem to have been around forever. They have roots in Medieval Europe. People frequently wore them during that era. They frequently wore them alongside hoods. They were big outfit staples back then. Things have changed dramatically since then, however. That’s not to say that they haven’t come back into prominence for short periods of time throughout the centuries and decades, though. They have. Capes enjoyed a great popularity resurgence in the 1800s in Europe, interestingly enough.

These Garments and Practical Modern Applications

These garments have some modern applications. People regularly wear these garments as part of superhero costumes. Roman Catholic church leaders frequently wear them as well. People who work in the church regularly wear capes that are called “ferraiolos.” They put these capes on when they attend formal gatherings that don’t directly relate to liturgical matters. They’re also relatively common in policemen and in members of the military. These professionals often depend on capes to protect them from the elements. If you’re a hard-working policeman who wants to keep uncomfortable rain far away from your body, you may choose to wear a cape. Capes are especially common apparel items for policemen who work in France.

Style Options

These garments can be highly attractive and visually interesting. They appear in many appealing and diverse styles. They often feature sophisticated and intricate embroidery as well. It may not be particularly easy to find capes for sale in standard boutiques at shopping centers. The Internet, however, makes shopping for choices in all styles a total piece of cake. It doesn’t matter if you want a black offering in a solid color. It doesn’t matter if you want a bright offering that’s equipped with complex and gorgeous embroidery. The Internet has all sorts of amazing options available to you. They come in all sizes as well. There are capes that are suitable for individuals who are tall and lean. There are capes that are appropriate for folks who are short and slender. The options are practically endless. These garments also are available in all types of price ranges. There are definitely capes that are on the pricey side. There are just as many capes out there, though, that are extremely affordable and economical. Costume options tend to be cheap. Options that are used for weather defense purchases, on the other hand, are usually a bit more expensive. It always depends.

Warmth Benefits

These garments run the gamut in the warmth department. That’s because they’re made using all different materials and fabrics. No two capes are exactly the same. There are indeed some capes that are perfect for people who want additional warmth and coziness during the chilly winter months. There are also many capes that are ideal for people who want to feel airy and cool.

Customized Choices

If you have a knack for design, you may want to think about designing a cape of your own. You don’t have to wait for the stores around you to sell them. You don’t have to wait for capes to become all the rage in the fashion world, either. If you have a good imagination, designing a good cape should be a walk in the park for you. You just have to be resourceful and focused. You can choose the materials that you love the most. You can take as much time as necessary to complete the project as well. It’s not a competition. These garments have been around for centuries and centuries. Your goal should be to put love into the design process.