Cloaking Fashion in a Different Framework

I wonder why men’s capes and cloaks fell out of fashion? That question has plagued me (a slightly dramatic overstatement, perhaps) for some time. Aside from the drama of the question, though, it’s a reasonable question. Alas, I have no answer. Regardless, I am sorry capes and cloaks fell by the wayside. I like the way they look. I think I might rather enjoy wearing a cloak, especially, simply because to my eyes cloaks lend an air of casual sophistication to a gentleman’s dress.

Until this morning, though, I did not know the difference between capes and cloaks. Frankly, I’d never considered that they might be different types of clothing. Hmm. Are capes items of clothing? Same question for cloaks. Or are they fashion accessories? I would argue they are both, but would lean heavily toward the utilitarian; they serve a function beyond serving as eye candy. So, they are items of clothing that supplement and accent clothes over which they are worn. So says John. Who’s to argue? It’s 4:40 in the morning and no one in their right mind would be up and thinking about such things at this hour.

Speaking of the difference between the two items. According to, capes tend to be shorter, falling to the hips or thighs. They tend not to have hoods and they don’t necessarily close in the front. Cloaks, on the other hand, “fall to below to the knees and are often floor length. They typically have enough fabric to be closed for warmth and will protect from the elements.” The same website suggests that capes often serve more of an accessory than an item of clothing. All right. I’ll buy that. So, what I’m after, then, is a cloak. Cloaks would look better than capes on old fat men, too. More fabric to cover and disguise the unpleasant evidence of gluttony and sloth. So, the matter is sealed; I’m not going to be wearing a cape until I shed seventy pounds and at least half as many years. But I might surprise the world one day by showing up in a cloak. I doubt I’ll be buying from Ravenfoxcapes, though; their offerings seem geared exclusively to women; at least that’s the impression I get from the photos of models on the site, all of whom are female.

A bit more exploration revealed a variety of sources of cloaks for men. Most, though, seem geared toward costume-wear intended for people desiring the goth-look. I’m not after costumes; I’m after clothes! And I don’t want to break the bank. An admittedly cursory review of products that look like they are nicely tailored and made from quality materials revealed price points that are beyond my reach. Or, beyond my willingness to part with my money. The range seems to be between $325 and $1500. Damn!

Okay, what if I were willing to spend that kind of money? What more would I have to spend for an entire “outfit” that would look like it was properly assembled? You know, kind of like assembling slacks and a jacket and a nice pair of shoes and, of course, a shirt that complements the rest of the ensemble. I don’t know. It has been so very, very long since I bought a suit and all the requisite accouterments to go with it that I have no idea what it might cost. Frankly, I don’t know (and haven’t bothered to research) what one wears under a cloak. If, indeed, there exists some fashion dos and don’ts for cloak undergarments. Jeans and running shoes seem not to fit, but I could be wrong. If I were to get serious about this, I would do my homework. But, wait, I am serious about this. I like the idea of cloaks. But would I really wear one? Perhaps. I’d hate to find out that I wouldn’t, though, after spending a thousand dollars on one. I’d have to spend money on tailoring, too; despite what Ravenfoxcapes says about them, I’d have to have my cloak shortened so it falls to just above my knees. I think. I’m pretty sure I don’t want a floor length cloak.

Buying a cloak would be a risky endeavor. I’m not a fashion early-adopter or fashion leader. It’s annoying to me that I am a fashion follower; unwilling to risk ridicule and mockery by bucking fashion trends. It’s pathetic, it is. That fear of bullying suggests I’m equally unlikely to engage in other endeavors that stray from the mainstream. Ach! Would that others’ opinions of me did not matter. I pretend those opinions mean nothing to me; it’s an act, executed poorly.

My original question remains unanswered. Why did capes and cloaks fall out of fashion? I really don’t understand why people wouldn’t find them attractive. Maybe I should ask someone. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a conversation with anyone about my heretofore secret attraction to cloaks (now that I know the difference between them, I guess I’ve never really had much of an interest in capes).

I’ve written (several times, I’m sure) about my interest in designing my own clothes to suit my particular tastes and to fit my desires for practicality in clothing. I’ve promoted the idea of multiple pockets in sleeves designed for notepads, phones, pens, and other such paraphernalia. I have argued for the same add-ons for both shorts (which should have much shorter inseams, by the way, than those on the market today) and long pants. I am sure I would want to customize my cloak with the same sorts of practical pockets. But I’d probably have those pockets on the inside of the cloak, versus the outside like I promote for shirts and pants.


I went to bed very early again, hoping to get plenty of sleep and to make up for its lack during the last several nights. My SleepNumber app says I went to be at 9:14 and arose for the day at 3:48, for 6 hours and 32 minutes; 5 hours and 56 minutes of restful sleep, 26 minutes restless, and 2 minutes out of bed to pee. Apparently, insufficient sleep leads to strange fascination with Medieval outerwear. I’ve not gotten enough sleep in days and days and days; but maybe “enough” is a relative term. Two more hours until I have to be in the dental hygienist’s chair. I need to drink coffee, then shave and shower, before that takes place. The day begins again.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Cloaking Fashion in a Different Framework

  1. karen says:

    Hi John,

    We’re pleased with the mention in your post. We will soon offering men’s cloaks and hope you’ll check out our offerings.

    Best, Karen

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