Cloak and Dagger. The Mystery of a Cape

Cloak and dagger. Cloaked in mystery.

It would seem that these fabulous garments made from yards and yards of beautiful fabrics are perfect for hiding secrets. And they DO have a certain air of mystery about them. But perhaps a little romance too?

I was reminded of the great drama and flair awarded to any wearer of a cloak while attending a presentation of The Nutcracker this past holiday season. Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara’s uncle, was costumed in a wonderful black cloak with a magenta lining that leant itself well to the story of the ballet. And I couldn’t help but wonder why cloaks have become relegated to costumes only. There really can’t be anything better to top off a formal evening outfit on a cold winter’s night, nor to use on a regular basis when the weather is chilly, but not forbiddingly icy.

Are cloaks just out of style?

It seems that cloaks were last worn regularly in the early part of the 20th century by both men and women, but very quickly dropped out of fashion in the 1930s. Except in certain formal and celebratory circumstances, often associated with Great Britain, by the way.



There is no shortage of bridal cloaks available (what a fabulous topper for a winter wedding gown!) and militaries and police services around the world continue to use cloaks as toppers for dress occasions. Although perhaps the U.S. Navy is eschewing this style, even for dress purposes . . .

Italian Caribinieri
Italian Caribinieri

Consider also the robes worn by judges and barristers and academics around the world. And let’s not forget the cloaks worn by the students of Hogwarts. Yes, the UK seems to retain the tradition of cloak wearing, in both fictional and real life. Note that Ede & Ravenscroft has provided coronation and parliamentary robes for the past 327 years, so we can probably assume that robes will continue to be worn for these ceremonial occasions for hundreds more years.

Does anyone else secretly harbor a desire to swoop through life wearing a velvet cloak? Perhaps embroidered subtly, yet magnificently?

Certainly I can see the practical problems with donning such a simple garment on a regular basis. I may be on the short of stature side to properly carry this off. (Darn it!) I can see myself fighting with the bite of the wind through an unsecured cloak too. But oh! How marvelous to embue oneself with the air of mystery and romance that a cloak affords.

Perhaps the answer lies in a cape. Totally fashionable at the moment with examples abounding from the extremely casual poncho to the more formal short cloak to the simple wrap. I prefer the short cape with sleeves and the ability to remain warm while using your hands and arms. In fact, I own a black cape style winter topper similar to this one that I wear while walking to school as well as to professional meetings. It does lend a little more mystery and flair than a parka or goretex ski jacket.

Maybe I need to set my own trend here and just wear capes and cloaks regardless of what everyone else is wearing. In that case, sadly, I’ll need to find myself a really good costume maker since I am unable to afford these marvelous ones from Burberry (you need to scroll down past the ponchos). And how could you possibly choose from the array of amazing colors offered by Cloaks of Ireland? Just reading through their list of options is almost, but not quite, transports you to another time and place.

It seems that cloaks, at least for now, are destined to remain purveyors of mystery. My research has found that cloaks are only available through re-enactment costumiers or high end designer labels and that really does put them out of reach of the masses. Like I said, perhaps I need to set my own trend here and just wear them regardless. I am rather partial to this Waterford cloak and my apparently inner Mary Poppins with this fantastic, but budget challenging cape from Tom Ford.

Waterford cloak from Cloaks of Ireland
Waterford cloak from Cloaks of Ireland

Anyone else secretly harboring a desire to bring a little magic into their wardrobe?