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Sunday, 17 October 2010

Caped Crusaders

Autumn is now in full swing, and it's time to start wrapping up to fend off the chill. This season, it appears we are spoiled for choice in the outerwear department. Military coats, aviator jackets, faux-fur and camel coats are all big news this season. But for those who like to push the style envelope towards the theatric I bring you good news - the cape is back.

Grey Wool Cape (£59.99), River Island

Capes have been in and out of fashion in various forms since the late 19th Century. They have also been a dramatic style staple of superheroes and supervillains alike in comics, films and books. Sherlock Holmes, Batman and Wonderwoman are just a few examples of characters for whom the humble cape contributes significantly to their famous iconography:

But what about its recent incarnation? The cape most certainly still makes an impact whether on the recent runway shows or as new additions to our favourite high street stores. Depending on the cut and fabric, they can be chic and even sexy (see Givenchy, Jaeger London and Yves Saint Laurent) or comforting and cosy but still stylish (as Rag & Bone, Matthew Williamson and Missoni's designs will testify).

Capes are wonderfully practical and impractical all at once. They can protect its wearer from the elements, and essentially feel like you are wearing a blanket (without veering too much into 'poncho' territory) which, in the next few months will be much appreciated when the temperature continues to drop. Topshop's Ultimate Heavy Jersey Cape (£85) looks especially snug, and won't break the bank with it's price tag.

While being cosy and easy to throw on is a huge plus point, capes have a few minor disadvantages - the main one being how restrictive some capes can be. Hailing a taxi? Want something off of that top shelf? With a cape on sometimes the most simple of tasks can be tricky. But a lot of designers have thought ahead and produced clever capes for the new season with little sleeves or slits for the arms to slip through. This Hooded Military Cape (£70) from ASOS does just that.

It's difficult to say why exactly the cape is having it's fashion moment again this time around - some say it's partly down to the vampire-mania inspired by Twilight, True Blood et al (few can picture Count Dracula without his trusty cape). And while I agree that Givenchy's caped vamps give a chic nod to the gothic trend, I also believe the cape's recent popularity can also be attributed to the grown-up, ladylike looks of the season - as seen on the sophisticated ladies of Yves Saint Laurent:

Whatever the reason, choosing a cape to stay warm under this Autumn/ Winter will make a statement that is striking, stylish and invites its wearers to channel their inner superheroine.

Will you be wrapping up warm in a cape this season?

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