Cape vs Cloak: Transitional Weather Staples

cape vs coat best cape coats for women

Do you live in a climate where the weather always keeps you on your toes? Too warm for a coat, but also too chilly to go without. The issue is most poignant for Midwesterners, but I’d argue that everyone feels this outerwear confusion at some point in the post-Valentine’s Day pre-spring stretch. We’re craving light and airy fashion, but can’t go outerwear free. Enter the cape coat, the perfect transitional piece. In this post, we’ll explain why they’re a must have, what you need to know when choosing cape vs cloak, and how to style this unexpected garment.

To start, let’s define what we’re talking about…

If your mind is drifting into superhero territory, you’re not wrong. Both capes and cloaks are outerwear created with a single piece of drapery. However, there are some important distinctions. In fact, for the purpose of this cape vs cloak post, we’ll be largely focusing on the former. It’s a more fashion-forward garment, less associated with fantasy and costume. Translation – It’s much easier to wear!

cape vs coatCape Coat

Cape vs Cloak – How do they differ?

  • Cloaks: Are you envisioning the heroine of a romance novel standing on a bluff with long fabric tied about her shoulders and grazing the ground? If so, you’re thinking of a cloak. Cloaks cover the majority of your body, head to feet (if the cloak is hooded). They are loose, full-length garments designed to protect the wearer from the elements. Cloaks are generally sleeveless, though some may feature designated sleeves for you to put your arms in. They also tend to be made of heavier fabrics to be functional, warming the wearer
  • Capes: Capes are shorter, falling to the hip or mid-thigh region. The sleeveless outer garment hangs over the shoulders and fastens at the throat. This type of partial coverage makes it ideal for those “between seasons” moments. That’s why designers have embraced capes the last few years, reimagining the garment on the runway by pairing it with everything from formal gowns to casual “French Girl” pieces. Michael Kors is one such example. A lover of the statement coat, Kors offered several cape-style options in his 2023 RTW collection. There are also smaller designers who focus specifically on capes. Marta Scarampi is an example. Her pieces are swoonworthy!

cape coats for womenCape Coat | Jeans | Sock Booties | Purse (similar)

What is a cape coat? 

Now that we’ve touched on cape vs cloak, let’s tackle the cape coat. Cape coats for women are similar to both capes and cloaks. Typically they cover a wearer’s back and arms, fastening like a coat in front. The Chicwish piece I’m wearing is an example of a cape coat. Often the sleeves have an arm slit or sit open, giving the appearance of draping fabric. Materials vary, but wool is common since it holds its shape well and offers lots of warmth.

  • Click here to browse Chicwish’s affordable capes and cape coats

The piece I have on is a comfy wool-blend fabric (60% wool/40% polyester) with side pockets you will love slipping your hands into. I appreciate that it incorporates a belt to help define your waistline. As a petite, capes and cloaks can easily overwhelm my 4’11 frame, so those types of details matter.

The stand up collar and buttons add a touch of glamour, while the neutral plaid makes it a very wearable, versatile piece. The price is right too – you can snag this for under $100. Sizes are moving quickly though. Nab this one before it’s gone!

How to wear a cape coat

How to wear a cape coat without looking costume-like

When we’re looking at capes vs cloaks, capes are significantly easier to style. The shorter length, coupled with chic detailing can elevate any look. They lean less theatrical than capes, particularly when styled with streamlined and modern pieces. Wondering how to style a cape coat in a contemporary manner? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Neutral color cape coats can help you strike an elegant tone. I love color as much as anyone, but a red cape coat easily drifts into Little Red Riding Hood territory as does any other super vibrant color.
  • Shorter, hip length styles are easiest to rock. This allows you to reveal a sleek dress, long skirt, or modern jeans for a streetwear style.
  • Avoid extra embellishments. Your cape coat makes a statement all on it’s own. Keep accessories minimal.
  • Underneath your cape, opt for a sleek bodysuit or chic turtleneck.
  • Offset the volume of the cape with slim fitting, tailored pants.

Cape Coats for Women – Must-Try Styles

Curious to see the best cape coats for 2023? Since I focus on approachable elegance, I’m not including any super high-end pieces. While I love designer looks, I’m not an haute couture kind of gal. Nor am I ready to drop that kind of change on a garment that offers utility, but is more of a fashion statement than a necessity.

The styles below represent both affordable and investment options you’ll wear for years to come.  No matter where you sit on the cape vs cloak battle, you can find a style that suits your needs. That’s particularly the case with cape coats for women! There are so many pretty styles out there. Go ahead, give a cape coat a whirl.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *