I love jackets and coats. They are my second favourite wardrobe items (handbags come first). Fortunately I can put a large assortment of toppers across a range of thicknesses and silhouettes to good use in my climate, so my wants are somewhat rationalized by my needs. This brings me to the tale of two capes. 

Capes aren’t as insulating as regular wool coats. They can be fussy, uncomfortable, unflattering, dowdy and impractical. That said, capes do have their advantages:

  • They are a slam-dunk silhouette to layer over chunky knitwear, voluminous dresses, and tops or pullovers with exuberant and voluminous sleeves.
  • They layer well over denim jackets, motos, and light-weight coats.
  • They work well as maternity toppers.
  • They camouflage the natural contour of the body when that’s how you feel like dressing.
  • They look dramatic, theatrical, fun, unique and interesting.
  • They work well in mild Winter climates

I adore capes because of their Modern Retro integrity. They look elegant, dressy and move in a way that’s fun and festive (much like the swoosh of a flared midi skirt). I know they aren’t terribly warm or have wardrobe workhorse potential, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t need every item in my moderately sized wardrobe to be a workhorse because that would take the fun out of fashion for me. Some items become special when you don’t wear them frequently, which earns them a place in your wardrobe.

Houndstooth Cape
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Textured Cape Coat
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I added my first cape to my outerwear capsule three years ago. It’s an earthy micro check with a faux fur collar and Sherlock Holmes vibe. I wore it about five times in the first few months of purchase, and never wore it again. After several road tests, I discovered that it’s too long to sit and drive in, not very insulating, not as versatile as a solid, not that fab over dresses, and looks odd worn as an indoor topper. That said, it’s a fun item that continues to spark joy, and it has a high longevity factor. So I’m keeping it.

Unexpectedly, while shopping with a client last month, I bumped into a cape at Zara. It was love at first sight because of the light colours that match my hair, the practical shorter length, and high faux fur neckline that covers my long neck. I didn’t get it right away because I was working with a client, and didn’t want another cape that I seldom wore. But I went back for the cape because I kept on thinking about it. I tried it on and was completely smitten. It followed me home and has become an instant wardrobe workhorse.

I love this new cape. It’s much more wearable than the first one because of the shorter length, solid colour, and structured sleeves. The shorter length makes it work with most of my jeans, flared midi skirts and dresses, cropped trousers, and full-length bell-bottoms. The solid light neutral works with much more of my wardrobe. The structured sleeves are practical and insulating. I can drive in this cape and move around more freely. It also doesn’t look off when worn indoors at a restaurant or shopping mall. I’m reaching for the new cape like it’s an essential blazer, which is surprising to me.

If I’d said “no more capes” because the first one was infrequently worn I’d have missed out on this workhorse that makes me feel like a million bucks. It’s news to me that a cape could be so versatile for Fall, and I’m thrilled that it found me at Zara.