Saturday, September 12, 2009

Capes: Yea or Nay?

I've been having an ongoing cape dilemma. You see, I bought this pattern last winter. I think the short little capelet (view #2) is darling. But when I try to imagine myself actually wearing it, I'm afraid I'd look a tad ridiculous. (In an adorable Mary Poppins sort of way perhaps, but ridiculous nonetheless.) I mean, where am I going to wear a capelet? To the office? Granted, I work in a very artsy environment, but I still don't think I'd be able to take myself seriously at work while wearing a tiny cape. I mean, really.

But just a couple weeks ago, I found myself with another capelet pattern. Well, in fairness, I bought the pattern you see below strictly for the dress - I love the shape of the midriff. But yet again, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the idea of the capelet.

Isn't it fantastic in that blue and white check with the green cummerbund? Still, I have a gut feeling that this is a style that works best on illustrations, not people.

I decided I needed some empirical evidence to back up my beliefs on the matter. So, I was browsing in Anthropologie on a lunch break the other day, and tried on this little cape:

Looks cute on the dress form, right? It did not look so cute on me. The widest part fell precisely at my waist - this didn't exactly create a flattering silhouette, if you see what I mean. But still . . . if a capelet fell above the elbow, would this problem be solved? Or are capes just not a wearable style for the modern gal?

Capes: yea or nay, ladies?

43 comments:

  1. I think yea. Resounding! But it does depend on details like sleeve length etc. I find cropped, structured capelets with awesome buttons are quite flattering on me, but anything longer and I look like I'm wearing too much fabric. I've seen taller, twiggy types look great in longer cape(let)s though. I've made a couple in rich coloured wools with some texture and this seems to add interest where arms, seams and structure would normally be. Capes made from 'flat' fabrics often tend to look like costumes to me.

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  2. I think that they are cute! They look like something Michelle Obama might wear , or Audrey Hepburn. If you were making your own you could adjust the length to a more flattering location.

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  3. I say Yea! I own a vintage nurse's cape and wear it in the fall (it hits at the hip and is wool) and I am knitting myself a hooded capelet for when the weather starts to turn. I think as long as it hits you in the correct spot you can pull it off.

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  4. I vote yea also. Although, I think you have to adopt an attitude to wear one.

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  5. Yea, definitely!!! I was just thinking last night about making one I saw in a BWOF.

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  6. I say yea! I do love capelets.
    -Andi x

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  7. I understand your trepidation. Capelets can so easily go either way. But a classmate showed up in a really cute one the other day made out of recycled sweaters. It was orange except for the "sleeve" area which was a wedge of patterned fabric. I thought it was a nice way of breaking up a swath of fabric.

    I like the Anthropologie model better than the pattern images. Perhaps a shorter sleeve is worth a try?

    So, in other words, yea. Might as well give it a shot!

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  8. I am not a big fan of capes or capelets. Aside from the fact that I don't see them as flattering on my curvy body, I just find them awkward to wear. Do you wear a shoulder bag? Not fitting over this cape with any grace. I see them as kind of cold and drafty in winter. I'm a nay.

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  9. Yea, yea, and yea. Especially if it's a cute little bow number like View 2 of the first.

    I should really make myself one. They seem like the perfect accessory for transitioning your wardrobe from warm to cool weather, and the perfect way to keep your body a little warm without becoming uncomfortably toasty, which happens to me a lot.

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  10. I think that they look adorable. I've never tried one on myself but I'd love to! Actually I have a coat/cape on my wishlist for this winter.

    At the very worst you can make a capelet and then not wear it if you don't like the fit.

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  11. I say Yea. I'm thinking the short one in the first pattern. I think you should give it a try and just see. The shorter one probably won't fall at your waist; so it might be more flattering. It might be nice to wear in a movie theatre if nothing else.

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  12. I found myself in the same dilemma last year, and I just went for it. I sewed a capelet (Vogue 1062) in a lovely cream wool, and I totally, totally love it. It's a perfect fall jacket. All my initial fears about wearing a capelet just melted away...I have never felt like I'm drowining in wool when I wear it.

    Anyway, take a look. You'll have to paste the URL into your brower, because I have no idea how to turn this into a link! Whoops!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/virginiawoolf/3144778221/

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  13. DEFINATELY YES! Go for a shorter one so that you waist is shown off. I'm really jealous of your pattern finds as I've been hunting for one for ages. Really hope you do make one and share the results. x

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  14. While I love the idea of a cape, I think it's actually difficult to pull off. Capes often overwhelm the women who wear them, making them look like mini darth vaders (minus the helmet head). Because of the bell shape, it widens the body. I know the majority of the commenters said yes to the cape, but I really feel like one's own body shape dictates the wearing of a cape (how flattering it is/isn't). As well as fabric, for that matter. All that aside, perhaps if you tried on some capes in the store that hit at different lengths it would help you to decide if the cape is right for you.

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  15. I have always liked them but not so sure about it on me. I use pashminas a lot for cool evenings or covering my shoulders at mass(my catholic mother's influence on me...)so I don't think capes would be too much of a stretch.
    I always wanted a hip length navy wool cape with red lining and brass buttons to wear as a coat.

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  16. I say go for it, but keep in mind that the key to a flattering capelet is its length. I think you want the capelet to end in the bust area where you want your body to appear wider, and where the bulk of the capelet will sharpen the contrast with your waist. You can play with finding a length you like by simply wrapping a piece of fabric around your arms and torso to vaguely simulate the shape.

    Like you, I also like the short view from the first pattern.

    I have seen a lot of knitted and crocheted capelets recently. Here are some links to photographs so you can see what is more or less flattering:

    http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter02/PATTacapella.html

    http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=7694917

    http://knitworksbykatie.blogspot.com/2009/05/green-cable-capelet.html

    http://bellamamashandwork.blogspot.com/2008/10/warm-hug-girls-capelet-pattern-free.html

    http://www.interweavestore.com/Knitting/Patterns/Cabaret-Capelet.html?af=ravelry

    http://www.interweavestore.com/Knitting/Patterns/Chevron-Pullover-And-Capelet.html?af=ravelry

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  17. @Cindy: Ebay is a great source for the kind of cape you are looking for. Search nurse cape or wool cape and you'll find ones that are blue wool with red satin or wool linings. That's how I found mine and I love it. Just make sure to check the length against your measurements.

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  18. I say Yea!

    I have a fitted wool Theory cape that I bought years ago and I get complemented every time I wear it. I also have a sweater cape from Paul & Joe for Target that I've worn once and haven't found the right outfit for it yet.

    I think it depends on the outfit and what shape looks best on you. I've found more fitted shapes work on me, whereas the Anthropologie cape you showed would have been all kinds of bad for me.

    I still want the nurse's cape SJP wore in one of the episodes of Sex & the City.

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  19. I love the idea of capes. I always love them in the magazines. But I don't think they would look right on me. I tried one on and looked bigger than a sack of potatoes but it could have just been a bad style. I am not ready to rule them out because of one bad experience. I think they are so cute!

    So, I think you should go for it. A caplet could be really flattering (haven't tried one of those yet). Do some snoop shopping to help you decide. Good luck on your quest!

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  20. I've been thinking capelet too. I saw the Burda one that someone made up and saved the image. However I have a little cropped black jacket that flares out in the back like a cape so I'm not sure if I need something else similar unless I find a really great color, (orange, harvest yellow or green) to make it in. But if you do make one I think it would look great with your Joan Holloway dresses and this red sheath, so I think you definitely have the right clothes to wear with it. And remember, it's still considered as outerwear or as a coverup, so you wouldn't be expected to wear it all day at work.

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  21. I like capelets in theory, but when it comes to wearing one in practice - they just don't work for most women who want an outer garment to keep them warm or want to put a handbag over their shoulder. They're a very solid shape so I just don't think they work that well outside of magazines. Shame.

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  22. I *adore* capes and capelets. I'm pretty "fluffy" and very busty, so wearing them is a bit of a challenge.

    I've found that the best ones go to the bottom of my bust and above my waist and have a bit of swing in the back of them. My favorite was actually slightly longer in back than in front. It's subtle, but makes *all* the difference (combined with the swing back).

    Go for it - you've got the look to pull it off.

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  23. I think yea to this timeless piece if the fabric is not stiff. A nice woolen with texture would work and a knit one would be fabulous and dramatic. I understand the problem with it hitting in the wrong place. I don't know how to overcome that problem because I am curvy in the hips too. Perhaps playing around with it to make it hit in a better spot. Capes would look best with a pencil skirt or narrow trousers (with heels!) to offset the wide-ness of the top, IMO. I think the white color of the Anthropologie cape was the problem, it makes it look bigger. Think of one in beautiful fall/winter hues of grey, brown, aubergine.

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  24. Now you've made me want a capelet. Sigh. (I guess that's a yea.)
    Beautiful, interesting blog!

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  25. I say yea. I love that one you showed from Anthropologie. I made one from last years McCalls version with a matching pencil skirt and loved it with long gloves, a turtle neck and boots.

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  26. I love capes of all kinds and adore a black-and-white wool boucle one I made three years. But Nancy K is right--they aren't entirely practical. I can't carry my usual shoulder bag with it. But there is a new McCalls cape-ish jacket I want to make out of a wool plaid one of these days.

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  27. YEA! Imagine a luxurious wool one with that gorgeous red sheath dress!!!

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  28. Hmmm, I think they CAN look good (especially if you have a bit of height or a long torso). For me personally though, it's a no no, being short and short waisted and curvy AND big busted it would be like drowning in a sea of wool. You,Gertie, could I think, pull it off, if it's the right length.

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  29. I vote Yea! They're so dramatic, but in a good way.

    They should end above the elbow or below the hip. Of course, the longer ones look better if they're narrower, in my opinion.

    Also, red velvet would be my first choice. With a hood maybe. But you'd have to love the look, and seriously commit to it, or it would come off as slightly ridiculous. I think.

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  30. I'd say, "Go big or go home" on this idea. But my first reaction was "Shawl."
    Depends on the material, and the nerve.

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  31. Capelets, yea. Capes, depends... not if you are well endowed, like moi, and it creates a weird maternity "cape tent" look.

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  32. There was a cape in a recent Burda - here. It's certainly cute in the picture, but I can't imagine it being good to wear. It looks too floppy.

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  33. Yea, with a couple of caveats. I LOVE the shorter cape/capelet look and have two sweaters that are too long to be called capelets but not quite long enough to qualify as full-on capes. Keep trying on different lengths if you see them in stores - you'll find one that works. The biggest downside to them is that you can't really carry a shoulder bag, but there are plenty of other handbag options out there. And as weird as it may sound, the cape concept is still a bit too fashion forward for some people so you really have to be in the right mindset to work it. :-)

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  34. All I can say is...

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18398090

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  35. YEA! I'm thinking about making one for me too... I think they look so cute!

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  36. An absolute yea from me. I have two capes, one tartan which I wear during Spring and Autumn and one black wool cape which I wear for evenings. My black wool cape has bound slits so you can poke your arm through so I often wear elbow gloves with that cape.

    If I am carrying a tote or sholder bag I put it over my sholder and under the cape.

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  37. Gertie - I am SO in the yes category. I bought this cape on sale from Pendleton a few years ago, as something to wear on special occassions, but now wear it almost everyday in the winter:

    http://www.pendleton-usa.com/product/Women/OUTERWEAR/OUTERWEAR/PLUSH-WOOL-CAPE/166898/pc/1815/sc/1775/sc/1775/c/1775.uts

    Cold air does blow up it, and as Nancy K says, it is hard to carry a shoulder bag. But it just looks so chic. Your capelets would look really cool "toughened" up - maybe you could wear it with skinny jeans or boots?

    Definitely make one, and post!

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  38. @paisleyapron:

    ooh, now I want an aubergine wool capelet. It would be just right for fall, when all I really need to stay warm is for my upper arms to be nice and toasty.

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  39. I love capelets, but have yet to ever wear one...I always feel like the French girl wizards in Harry Potter!
    I've found that chunky knit ones look much less ridiculous.

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  40. I think they're a great idea for summer weddings -- wear one over a sundress for the ceremony and then remove it for the reception. They could also work well to wear over an evening dress between venues.

    However, I agree that I've had a tough time finding a flattering silhouette. My favorite has been the bolero -- it shows off my waistline while still covering my shoulders and keeping my look together.

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  41. Definitely Nay!

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  42. Gertie:
    I made a longer version out my head for a snuggie-poncho sit around the house and keep warm cape. It's below the knees and keeps me ever so toasty in the cold evenings of the winter. I'm wearing it now...I would have loved to have a cape pattern to work with to get a feel of what to do. I used velcro up the front. It works great. I sewed in a pouch in the rear for a pillow that I can remove if wanted. One of my chairs needs that pillow to sit confortably. Thanks for the Simplicity pattern number. I'll see if I can refine it. I see some of those fleecy animal blankets that I will use are on sale. Roar from the Tiger. I have a friend with an 11 year old boy who would love one.
    hugs
    John

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  43. I am a big fan of capes or capelets. I have two capes, one tartan which I wear during Spring and Autumn and one black wool cape which I wear for evenings. My black wool cape has bound slits so you can poke your arm through so I often wear elbow gloves with that Wholesale Capes.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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