How Many Capes Does One Girl Need? The Real Question is, How Big is her Closet?

Capes have come a long way from Banditos and Sherlock Holmes. Now they're the hottest trend in fall outerwear.

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.

A wool poncho by Aqua. Reasonably priced and a mainstay in my closet since 2004

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.

This exquisitely draped jacket may not be a cape, but it has all the drama

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.

The length and high neck make this a dramatic piece worthy of a Victorian centerfold.

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.

It's missing a toggle, but it's made several downtown NYC appearance already this season

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.

Navy blue with plaid accents and a wrap-around hood, this is my most versatile cape


One thought on “How Many Capes Does One Girl Need? The Real Question is, How Big is her Closet?

  1. I really like the Victorian plaid one–lovely!

    Actually just saw a girl wearing a cloak the other day–practical and fashionable, just what’s needed where I live.

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