Cape Conundrum

October 10, 2012

By Whitney.

Every year I wage an inner battle over outerwear. As the temperature drops, the debate begins: should I go for the tailored, classic coat or the romantic wool cape I cannot stop thinking about?

Usually the practicality of a coat wins out, but this season capes are really calling to me — tempting me with their grace and whimsy. I think it would give me a bit of smart European flair…with a smidge of undercover secret agent thrown in for good measure!

Anybody have experience in the realm of cape-donning? Tell me: do your arms freeze in the winter months? Is it a worthy sacrifice in the name of fashion?

As spied (stylishly) on The Sartorialist.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sandra October 10, 2012 at 7:06 am

I love all things MUJI – the simplicity of their clothes and the colour palette and how it all just fits together, season after season. Classic items with some quirk or a twist.

Last winter I DID purchase their wool cape. And it was the right size. Charcoal grey too – MORE for my charcoal grey/black wardrobe, eh?

But it just didn’t work – it seemed to slip and slide and it wasn’t as practical as I thought it would be. Maybe I’m too short for a cape but it didn’t look the greatest either. I was disappointed – LOVED the idea of a cape but the reality, not so much.

I just might not be a cape kinda gal.


2 Whitney Hardie October 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Yes, that is exactly what I’m worried about. I’m pretty short too – and all the clothes I think are most beautiful I can’t seem to carry on my shorty frame.


3 Giselle October 10, 2012 at 7:39 am

I have a lovely wool cape I got a few years back and I love it….except that my arms do freeze so I only wear it during the fall.


4 Kelly Chee October 10, 2012 at 7:48 am

I second the ‘arm-freeze’ issue. Also it makes it akward to carry your handbag but I love the look of it. I scored a vintage Harris Tweed cape, gorgeous thing but rarely uses it…maybe I should introduce it back to my autumn wardrobe


5 Whitney Hardie October 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm

You totally should! Even if it’s just once in a while – why not add a little something special to your day?


6 Christa the BabbyMama October 10, 2012 at 7:51 am

Capes just don’t work for me, though I think they are kicky and fun on other people. The sweater-as-scarf in the photo reminds me of eating breakfast in Amsterdam a few years back – I was wearing my overshirt as a scarf as we ate our gorgeous blurry-eyed meal.


7 invitation consultants October 10, 2012 at 9:33 am

ooo – a cape sounds fabulous!


8 Bea October 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

I keep looking longingly at capes while I should be looking for a maternity coat. But between the cold arms and the need to schlep toddlers and their stuff I’m thinking it’s not in the cards for awhile.


9 Mary October 10, 2012 at 10:33 am

Arm-freeze, no shoulder bags, and you cannot wear a seatbelt and drive in one.


10 Whitney Hardie October 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Whoah, the seatbelt thing hadn’t even crossed my mind. Looks like I can only wear a cape if I’m going to have someone drive me around!


11 Christy@SweetandSavoring October 10, 2012 at 10:43 am

I love this look- for all the reasons you mentioned- the whimsy, the European flair, the secret agent-ness….of course I would think about cold arms, as well. Arm warmers come in handy at times like these! :)


12 Katie October 10, 2012 at 10:52 am

I love capes and would absolutely buy one… if I were taller than 5’2″. At this height, I look like I’ve been swallowed by a snuggie. I generally love being shorter, but capes are something I’m sad to miss out on. I say go for it!


13 Whitney Hardie October 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Ha! Swallowed by a snuggie! I too am under 5’2″ so I suppose I will just continue to admire capes from afar.


14 Melissa - I Still Love You October 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm

As the cape trend becomes more mainstream, you’ll be able dip your toes in the “cape” water at a fraction of the price because. Then if it doesn’t work out, no big deal. You’re not out an arm and a leg.

Bottom line though, GO FOR IT!


15 Alexia October 11, 2012 at 8:40 am

I have just been lusting after capes myself & had been resisting the purchase because I live in the upper Midwest and figured there would be about three days per year when a cape would be neither too warm nor not warm enough. Thanks to everyone who provided many additional reasons why it would be completely impractical — they’ll help maintain my resolve not to buy one when I keep finding myself saying, “But they’re so CUTE!”.


16 Victoria Regina October 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

To paraphrase my mother, life’s too short not to wear capes in Europe! Also, one of my classmates in Vienna wears a cape and it looks so glamorous! I say go for it. Of course, I’m mostly just trying to justify dropping 50 Euro on a coat today–to be fair, it was secondhand, it’s wool, and most of the cost came from getting it altered so it fits better–but the point remains. If it’s going to bring you enjoyment and you don’t feel like you’re being overly extravagant, do it. Get the cape!


17 bdaiss October 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Ha. I too have a cape love-fear relationship. I have been known to fondle them lovingly in the store but ultimately walk away for fear of the impracticality. I bought one of those capey-sweaters a few seasons ago and I rarely wear it because it’s so tough to manuever seatbelts/kids/bags and forget wearing a jacket with it.

But you should TOTES get one. It feels very “French” to me.


18 Lexie October 12, 2012 at 7:02 am

Hi am now lusting after a cape. Has anyone seen any nice ones in the shops at the moment. I’m living in Brussels at the moment so preferably European/Uk shop


19 Hannah October 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I love my cape, (nude shade from Zara ladt year,) i got around the arm freeze by buying very long leather gloves.


20 Koseli October 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Capes are so romantic. I own one in a tan color and I’ve worn maybe 4 times in 2 years. But I love it and can’t get rid of it. I think the trick is Fall not winter.

Love this post! It IS a conundrum.


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