How Royals Use The Faster Route To Elegance Through A Cape

How Royals Use The Faster Route To Elegance Through A Cape

Several European armies included capes as part of their uniforms until well into the 1900s. But in the 1950s, fashion coopted the cape as its own – to the benefit of women everywhere. 

Cropped capes that finished at the waist became ubiquitous. They were less bulky than a coat and showed off the nipped-in waist of the full-skirted Norman Hartnell dresses of the era. 

After a cape hiatus in the second half of the twentieth century, Christopher Bailey sent model-of-the-moment Cara Delevingne down his AW 2014 Burberry catwalk in a cape embroidered with her initials. 

An immediate sell-out and months-long waiting list ensued. It was official: the cape was back. The then-Duchess of Cambridge wore a cape-detail Burberry coat in February 2019, easing herself into the dramatic look.

The cape’s style lies in its drama: its clean lines, unruined by superfluous lines and sleeves, make it inherently dramatic. The cape is an unapologetic fashion statement. 

The elegance created by its seamless shape makes it smart enough to wear over eveningwear where a coat would look too casual. 

Princess Diana knew this, wearing a black velvet cape over evening dresses several times in the ‘80s. It’s the only item of outerwear that didn’t look out of place next to her dazzling tiaras. 

Barbours don’t really go with gobstopper emerald chokers from the royal collection, darling. 

Modern royalty knows this too. Beatrice Borromeo, the too-chic-for-words thirty-eight-year-old Italian whose husband is Princess Caroline of Monaco’s son, last year wore a black velvet cape over a gown to a Dior gala in Venice. 

The coverage provided by the length of the cape perfectly balanced out the partially sheer dress underneath.

Kate’s cape today fulfilled the same balancing-out purpose. Her dress under the cape, unusually for Kate, finished just above the knee, but the cape’s hemline meant never more than the perfect amount of leg was shown when she exited her car and strode up steps. 

Combined with its bow detail, power shoulders, and showstopping red hue, Kate’s cape was a total, undebatable fashion knock-out. (Look to Queen Mathilde of Belgium on a visit to Canada in 2018 for a similarly flawless red cape moment).

Keen to incorporate the power of the cape into your own wardrobe? You needn’t have an arm-long list of white-tie galas and state events to attend.

Other royals have shown that the cape is adaptable to more casual situations. Zara Tindall wears them regularly to the races, while Princess Eugenie wears a green wool version by Chloe with black boots and tights. 

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Mr Priceless
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