From superheroes to celebrities, capes have come a long way. The Mumbai Mix Team tells you how to sport the quirky classic that’s quickly become a huge fashion trend!
We loved watching the warring Spartan soldiers in their red velvet capes (and not much else) in the film 300. We drooled when Sonam Kapoor walked down the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival this year in a majestic cape designed by Ralph & Russo. However, while we loved gaping at the clothing item on supermodels and style icons, we have always been slightly apprehensive about wearing it ourselves. Now that it’s taking over international ramps, and some stores across the city too, we’ve vowed to try the iconic fashion item this season, and we think you should too. Wondering where to get started? We tell you about the birth of the cape, bring you a few options to choose from, show you how to style them, show you how our favourite celebrities wore theirs and ultimately, tell you what you need to know when you’re sporting this tricky, yet trendy piece.
CRAZY ABOUT CAPES
When it comes to buying a cape, there are so many different styles, silhouettes, fabrics and lengths to choose from, that we’re often left very confused. So, we asked a few designers to explain the sort of capes they would most willingly sport. Take a cue from their style guides!
We started off by talking to Komal Patil, head of department at the Indian Fashion Academy. She tells us, “Capes may be short (over the shoulders or down to the waist) or full-length like cloaks. Short capes are usually made of or trimmed with fur. However, because fur is now almost unacceptable as a fashion accessory, other expensive materials are substituted for it, with opulent lining and trims. The fabrics most commonly used are velvet, silk and satin.” If you’re looking for more variety, Rashmi Srivastava, designer from Banka Silk, has you covered. “If you want something for a weekend getaway, a blanket cape could be a good choice, with jeans dungarees and a slouchy hat. You can wear the classic trench-style cape with something more daring, like a black patent or animal print, or add a touch of class to the outfit with a leather trim. A fringed version over ripped jeans is a great choice if you’re aiming for a boho look,” she explains rather succinctly.
Swati Sharma, a fashion blogger at The ArchAttire, thinks that capes can be excellent, free-flowing alternatives to layering during the summer. She loves pairing them with casual attire. “If you want your look to be satirical eye-candy, like I prefer to have mine, then making a summer outfit vibrant is achievable by styling floral, geometric printed capes over denims, shorts or even a short skirt. And, if you’re fond of tassels and pom-pom trends, Kimono-style capes are made for you!” she tells us.
Fashion designer Aqdus Saleem suggests a few of his favourites to add to the mix. He tells us, “With a hooded cape, you can layer your head and that will give you a whole new look. Cropped capes look great with jeans, trousers and skirts, since they are short. You can even wear these as jackets. A long cape is a floor-length cape that is instantly arresting and elusive — it’s one of the most elegant cape looks. A circular cape, on the other hand, drapes the shoulders and falls with a beautiful, feminine flourish. Regardless of the material, a cape gives the whole look a fashion-forward sense.”
THE HISTORY OF CAPES
Since no written account points to when capes were first worn, we have no way of being sure when or why they came into existence. They may have been a style statement for the chic caveman, for all we know! However, we do know that capes were popular in Medieval Europe, which itself stretches a long way from the 5th to the 15th century. Apparently, one of the earliest known accounts of the use of a cape dates back to around 1066. A costume plate from that time gives us this insight into medieval fashion. Early accounts paint pictures of soldiers or shepherds wearing capes. However, the cape really came into its own during the Victorian Era, as was the case with most fashion. In this era, capes were usually made with broadcloth, which is dense wool, but they were also fashioned from more expensive fabric such as satin and velvet. Taking the style up a notch included adding an animal fur trim. These days, we’re used to seeing capes in relation to comic book costume parties or ancient lore — or of course, when people are recreating a medieval look!
THE CAPE-ABLE WOMAN
Wondering how to style a cape with all your outfits? Take a look.
- Dress it up You can accentuate a simple dress or an LBD with a staple leather cape. This is a chic look as well as an effortless, comfortable one.
- Destroyed denims Pairing a cape with distressed jeans is also a good idea. If you are a fan of rugged jeans, a classic black cape will help you dress up the otherwise simple style.
- French miss For the ultimate French look, wear it with classics such as a pair of blue jeans, a white T-shirt and a pair of red stilettos.
- Going goth If you’re in the mood to wear all black, pair a nude cape with your full-black outfit for a super chic look.
- Hats off Wear your classic cape with a hat for the ultimate look. It will add a little glamour to your outfit and also save you from the harsh sun!
COPING WITH CAPES
Styling a cape today may not be as simple as it was back in the Victorian Era. That’s why we’ve brought you a few dos and don’ts to help you get the style right.
- DO: Stick to simple styles
Wearing a cape has over-the-top associations — from medieval fashion to superheroes. Remember to keep your look simple.
- DON’T: Wear a belt
This is a silly way to style a cape. If you want to wear a jacket or a sweater with a belt over it, that’s fine, but a belted-down cape? That’s making a fashion faux pas!
- DO: Wear figure-hugging clothes
Capes go best if the rest of your outfit is figure-hugging.
- DON’T: Do the front cape
Celebs have worn this on the red carpet, but you may want to avoid it. Of course, it goes with strapless dresses and gowns on the red carpet, but it’s still a big no-no.
- DO: Rock an all-black ensemble
If you’re going to dress up like a comic book superhero, you might as well do it right. A cape makes an all-black ensemble look very chic.
- DON’T: Pick a one-shoulder cape
You may have heard of this new trend with capes — hang them over a single shoulder. While this looks good in a picture, it’s impractical and silly on a regular outfit.
CAPES ON THE CARPET
Celebrities start several trends (and also ruin many), so it’s no surprise that they played a huge role in making capes an essential style. Here are our favourite red carpet capes on some of the most glamorous celebrities
Emma shed her girl-next-door look in 2013 when she arrived at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in this racy white crop top. Leaving her midriff exposed, she teamed the stylish look with an unusual cape. What can we say, Emma can rock anything!
Kate showed up at the 2014 Academy Awards flaunting her svelte figure in this striking Atelier Versace gown, featuring a bolero, which is basically a baby cape. The ensemble looked fabulous and Kate managed to pull of the ’30s look in style.
The 12 Years A Slave actress arrived in a stunning red, Ralph Lauren, floor-length cape gown. Lupita looked super glamorous in this shoulder-baring piece and her glowing skin only brought out the boldness of the glossy red hue.
Even if you’re not much of a cape person, you can’t argue with how good Gabriella makes the cape look. The Endless Love star pairs this navy cape with a crisp white shirt and a pair of casual denims. It’s the perfect look for a day around town.
YOUR CAPE-SULE WARDROBE
This gorgeous AND Women’s Cape Shrug from www.amazon.in is the perfect pick for those who don’t want to experiment too much, since it doubles up as a shrug too. For Rs 649, we’d pair the graceful cape with our favourite accessories and peep-toe shoes to steal the spotlight.
Smitten with silk
This intricately woven Silk Matka Reversible Cape from www.fabindia.com not only works wonders with a plain black T-shirt, it also looks stunning on a traditional sleeveless kurti! Sold for Rs 3,290, we absolutely adore the intricate cow prints on this!
This head-turning LAVISH ALICE Faux Suede Fringe Hem Cape will have you setting the trend at any party you attend! This classic cape from www.koovs.com, available at Rs 3,895, is a versatile option.
All that glitters
We’re sure this perfect Miss Chase Silver-Toned Sequined Cape Jacket from www.myntra.com will leave onlookers mesmerised. And at Rs 1,679 it’s sure to light up your evening! Pair this with your favourite LBD and stilettos and you’ll be party-ready in an instant!
We absolutely love this sequined butterfly printed cape by LOVE FROM INDIA, available at www.voonik.com. It will add a burst of colour to a plain T-shirt too. Spice up your casual attire for Rs 3,990 to stand out in this one.