This post is sponsored by Nordstrom. Shop the Anniversary Sale: Next Season on Sale Now. Prices go up August 1.
Capes and cape-esque coats are trending a little more strongly than usual for Autumn and Winter. They are the best type of cover-up to wear over dolman and bat winged tops and knitwear, which are also trending for Fall. This pairing demonstrates the very real ripple effect of fashion trends.
I think that capes are too much of an acquired taste to ever go completely mainstream. That being said, with my encouragement, most of my clients tried on capes and cape-esque coats at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale because they looked fresh and “new”. Surprisingly, a number of them actually liked the look and became proud cape-owners.
Capes are quite hard to wear because they are unstructured, fairly rigid, and voluminous. But when a cape with a great cut is worn in a flattering way, they can look classic yet edgy, a little avant gard and really hip.
Tall ladies with broad square shoulders and long necks will find it easier to pull off, but don’t lose hope if this isn’t your body type. Capes can work if you’re discerning about the details. I’ll walk you through them using examples that I’ve drawn from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.
To my eye, capes look particularly good in colours, checks and tweeds. They look less severe and “batman-ish” that way. However, I have also seen dramatic black capes work beautifully when the the rest of the ensemble is just so. But if you’re a cape novice, I’d suggest a colour other than black.
The next thing to watch out for is length. Don’t go too long, especially if you’re petite. I tend to prefer capes that finish on or above the crotch point. But if you’re regular height or taller, a few inches below crotch point is okay.
The Helene Berman Wool Blend Cape (1) is the perfect shade of camel and was my one client’s favourite items that she bought at the sale. She is regular height and does not have a strong shoulder line. But the yoke detailing ensures excellent shoulder definition while the button detailing at the hem creates a bit of a sleeve. The contrasting tortoise shell buttons work wonders to create a contrast against the expanse of camel wool. They also make my clients gorgeous brown eyes twinkle even more.
The Via Spiga Asymmetrical Cape (2) is black but the asymmetrical patent zipper adds a good amount of texture to the silhouette. The cut is sculptural with lots of seams and darts, which gives it great structure along the shoulder line. The Tahari Plaid Cape (3) is even more sculptured. It also has lots of good seaming detail and an overall less circular shape. Both of these capes have effective buttons at the hems which create the illusion of a sleeve.
If you can’t get your head around the floaty and wide aspect of a cape, try one with more torso definition like the Steve Madden Tweed Cape (4) and the GUESS Cable Knit Cape (5). These capes have voluminous sleeves, but the shaping around the midriff AND the coat collars go a long way to making you feel more grounded in the silhouette. The textures of these capes are especially lovely and so are the pockets.
Petite ladies are after shorter cape styles like the Trouvé Twill Cape (6) and the GUESS Asymmetrical Wool Blend Swing Jacket (7). I call them “cape-esque” because they are really more of a hybrid between a cape and a trapeze jacket, which is why you won’t drown in the look. I have a couple of strong shouldered petite clients rocking these babies.
Lastly, if you like the idea of a cape but don’t want to invest in a coat, try a knitwear version instead. The Frenchi U-Neck Cape Top (8) is utterly adorable and particularly great on petites because of the cropped integrity of the style. It’s like a poncho with sleeves. So fun! The Beatrix Ost Hooded Poncho (9) is super because its double button fastening feature at the sides is very structuring. Casual, cute and hip for a gal on the go.
In the past I liked capes, but I never really loved them. However, I am absolutely loving capes this season because of the great assortment. Seeing them work well on my clients has also helped to make me cape crazy. If the Trouvé Twill Cape came in a different colour, that would be the choice for my own wardrobe. Although I stand at regular height with a giraffe neck, my dainty frame is easily overwhelmed by capes. I have to follow the petite guidelines in order for it to work for my body type.
One final tip: Remember to keep the under layers of a cape fairly sleek because wearing volume on top of volume is tricky.
Capes are a super idea for Autumn and mild Winters, when it’s still too warm to wear coats. Are you feeling capes this season?