It’s fall’s hottest outerwear trend — capes. In all colors, in all patterns. Equal parts Victoriana and Wild West, drama and practicality, free spirit and buttoned up, the cape is as timeless as it is versatile. Worn over slick, fitted silhouettes and sharp heels, they are modern and elegant (even the NT Times agrees.)
For me, the cape is nothing new. There’s always been one or two or three in my closet, in some incarnation. When the recession hit and I decided the most sensible shopping destination was my mother’s closet, I quickly accumulated a few more.
Here’s what I’ll be wearing now that the leaves are changing their coats and the temperature is dropping (note: I’m no Heidi Klum. I’m more Ben Stiller with my blue steel):
I bought this fringed poncho in 2004, when I was a student in college and in need of something I could quickly toss on as I bolted out the door to class. It’s become a mainstay this fall as my daily go-to outer layer.
Technically not a cape, this cloak-like draped jacket is one of the most exquisite things in my closet. My mother bought it in Ireland nearly 30 years ago. It’s bold and elegant, and the neon-plaid makes it a perfect fit for this season’s highly saturated color palette. It was matched with a royal blue tweed pencil skirt that I had re-tailored and wear separately with more understated accessories.
Sometimes, my inner Victorian needs some drama. A London purchase my mother made, before I was born. The high neck accented with big wooden buttons and long hemline are what I love most about this cloak, but the orange and mauve plaid make it a classic for fall.
I’ve always had a thing for the wild west. The hooded, fringed cape is sophisticated and warm. Paired with black leggings and patent Farragamos, it’s already made more than one Saturday night downtown appearance in 2011.
Purchased in Ireland in the 1980s, the lightweight navy blue wool with the plaid accents and wrap around hood is probably the most practical of all the capes I’ve inherited.