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I posted this over on my youtube community tab and got some interesting results (if you want to go over there and vote, that would be cool and help youtube love me more)



For those of you who want to deep dive, We've got a thread for that - are cloaks practical?

And here's one where we see if it's possible to spin, weave, and sew a cloak in under a month.
 
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Cloaks cover more body. Where I live, cloak weather is the rainy season.
 
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I asked Mr. Google what the difference is between a cape and a cloak.

He said: Capes Tend to be Shorter; Cloaks are Full-Length or Calf Length.

I would much rather have a cloak based on that description.

superman or other caped crusaders can keep the cape.
 
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I like the idea of a Cloak better.
I understand that many of the PNW indigenous people had Cedar Cape/Cloaks, anyone ever try something like that?

I dream of wearing wool tights and a tunic with a big belt over the top some day... when I don't care what people think
*that day is getting closer and closer :)

 
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Depends on the application. A cape works best for billowing grandly while you stride about like you own the place. A cloak is for those times when you want the shrouded evil look with only your beady little villain eyes peering at the world.
cape.jpg
[Thumbnail for cape.jpg]
cloak.jpg
[Thumbnail for cloak.jpg]
 
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It's not for the bonus points (you can keep them), but I choose the cloak as warm winter wear (made out of thick wool outer layer, like the Austrian 'Loden', and a lining as extra layer). With a hood.
 
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I prefer a cloak because it would hug more of me.
I just discovered capetember, I'm turning it into CLOAKtember
 
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Does anyone know why cloaks are not part of outerwear anymore?
 
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Jerry Ward wrote:Does anyone know why cloaks are not part of outerwear anymore?



I also want to know this.
 
George Tyler
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Related to this post,
The band, The Mountain Goats, has a song I like to play and sing that goes:

I became a crystal healer and my ministry was to the sick
Creeping vines would send out runners and seek me in their numbers
I sold self-help tapes
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes

And as word spread of my powers they would seek me far and wide
All sad faces at my window I would welcome them inside
I sewed clothes for them: cloaks and capes
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes

My house will be for all people who have nowhere to go
My supply of shining crystals a shield against the snow
There's more like me where I come from, so mark our shapes
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes

 
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Anne Miller wrote:I asked Mr. Google what the difference is between a cape and a cloak.

He said: Capes Tend to be Shorter; Cloaks are Full-Length or Calf Length.

I would much rather have a cloak based on that description.

superman or other caped crusaders can keep the cape.



Additionally, I typically think of cloaks having a hood, while capes rarely do. There are always exceptions to the rules, of course, and many people will just use "cape", "cloak", and "mantle" interchangeably. The words have also evolved over time, as the garments themselves have changed.
Capelets are also a thing, which are very short, maybe elbow-length at longest. These were the last popular/fashionable iteration of capes in fashion history, fading out of popularity during the 60s.
You will still see cloaks, capes, and capelets around, but they are most commonly worn in a high-fashion/formalwear environment, ie. weddings, red carpet, or a night at the opera.

Personally I'm a huge fan of cloaks, especially with a hooded option. I'm an even bigger fan of cloaks that have openings in the side seams so you can stick your arms out and work without making your whole body cold! Bonus: you can use a cloak as a blanket because it is full-length


To touch on the question other folks had about why cloaks aren't largely worn anymore: I believe the yardage involved in making a cloak could be one reason (that full length means at least 2 yards), but mostly I imagine it has to do with the efficiency of keeping the body warm. While a cape or cloak is much cooler looking (at least in my opinion), a closer fitting garment will keep the heat closer to your body, and requires less energy to warm the space around your body (vs warming the whole area under the cloak/cape). Jackets typically will have close-fitting cuffs and a belt or waistband to keep warmth in very efficiently.

All that said, I do still feel that cloaks, capes, and capelets do have good potential for warming and functionality if constructed properly. You really just have to make sure the design isn't going to constantly fly open on you and let out your warmth!

/costuming rambles
 
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I think voting in online polls is a lot of fun. Broadly, it lets me skew data and pollute databases run by marketing and PR hamsters. Want reliable data from me? Pay me for it, twerps.

Doesn't apply here, of course. I actually like cloaks in theory, but I think an airy trenchcoat would be more my thing (and more practical).
 
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Capes have need for less material overall.  They are useful for identifying where a person is from a distance, especially for those who have spent a large portion of their lives reading on the computer.  While it may be easier to simply dye one's clothes, or work in patterns, it could nonetheless be useful to keep track of children, so you don't put an arrow through them, which is traditionally a negative.  Many traditional toys for children happen to be things that, say, make a large noise that, while entertaining them, frightens the local werebear away.  (One could contend that adult entertainment is for frightening away philosophy.)  

I suspect however that the most common cape traditions originate from the old saying "oh ****, I just dropped the bottom of my cloak in buffalo excreta...  I guess it could still be a cape."

A friend had a desert cloak - thick black wool, which was so thick, I believe, that the sun couldn't warm it all the way through.  More importantly, she would sleep in it when she didn't find a hotel in europe, as they were for sleeping in the freezing desert nights.  They end up heavy and large though, to be good.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Ah, Geoff, clearly you have an opinion, but did you bother to vote? Tsk.

I plan to start a thread vis. "Outrageous Claims and Blatant Falsehoods." (No, really, in Meaningless Drivel.) I sincerely hope you will chime in.

 
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Actually, according to the dictionary, a "cloak" isn't a particular garment distinct from a cape. viz. dictionary.com
"Definition of cloak
noun
a loose outer garment, as a cape or coat.
something that covers or conceals; disguise; pretense:
He conducts his affairs under a cloak of secrecy."

And Webster's dictionary:
cloak
noun
1: a loose outer garment
2: something likened to an outer garment: such as
    a: something that envelops or conceals a cloak of secrecy
    b: a distinctive character or role
         He hung up his academic cloak … to become a stay-at-home father

So, a cape is just an example of a cloak.  Not different from...
 
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Jerry Ward wrote:Does anyone know why cloaks are not part of outerwear anymore?



It is the part of some people's outerwear... you just aren't going to the right places.

The reason it's not more common?  It's called "Fashion", and Americans are slaves to it.
 
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I think we need to bring it back.

IF a cloak is what I think it is - a fitted blanket it's okay to wear in public - I can see a lot of advantages to wearing it either as outerwear, or over a coat in really bad weather.  

Heck, I can see wearing my about the house so I don't have to have the heating turned up as high.

And if this winter is going to be as cold as they predict in Europe and North America...
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jerry Ward wrote:Does anyone know why cloaks are not part of outerwear anymore?


That's a good question!
Maybe some textile-historian (or sociologist) made a study of this and wrote something interesting that disappeared in the university library ...
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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r ranson wrote:I think we need to bring it back.

IF a cloak is what I think it is - a fitted blanket it's okay to wear in public - I can see a lot of advantages to wearing it either as outerwear, or over a coat in really bad weather.  

Heck, I can see wearing my about the house so I don't have to have the heating turned up as high.

And if this winter is going to be as cold as they predict in Europe and North America...


I had a poncho to wear at home (back then I lived in a house with only one heated room, the whole upper floor was unheated). When I went to sleep it served as an extra blanket as well.
For outer wear for me wearing a cloak has some disadvantages. That's because the bicycle is my means of transportation. If you do more by foot or in a car/bus/train a cloak would be good.
 
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F.R. McNeil wrote:
Additionally, I typically think of cloaks having a hood, while capes rarely do.

Personally I'm a huge fan of cloaks, especially with a hooded option. I'm an even bigger fan of cloaks that have openings in the side seams so you can stick your arms out and work without making your whole body cold! Bonus: you can use a cloak as a blanket because it is full-length

To touch on the question other folks had about why cloaks aren't largely worn anymore: I believe the yardage involved in making a cloak could be one reason (that full length means at least 2 yards), but mostly I imagine it has to do with the efficiency of keeping the body warm. While a cape or cloak is much cooler looking (at least in my opinion), a closer fitting garment will keep the heat closer to your body, and requires less energy to warm the space around your body (vs warming the whole area under the cloak/cape). Jackets typically will have close-fitting cuffs and a belt or waistband to keep warmth in very efficiently.

All that said, I do still feel that cloaks, capes, and capelets do have good potential for warming and functionality if constructed properly. You really just have to make sure the design isn't going to constantly fly open on you and let out your warmth!

/costuming rambles



THIS!! ♥♥
 
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A wool cloak would get my vote. My definition of a cloak is knee length with a hood.
 
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First of all, “cloak” sounds like you just might be up to some nefariousness, which is a spectacular connotation for outerwear. “Cape”, on the other hand, calls to mind superheroes.  Who wants that kind of pressure? Not me!

In practical terms, there’s a use case for both capes and cloaks. Capes can be great for shedding rain (hello, fellow PNW denizens); the ends tend to angle slightly away from the body due to having spread out to accommodate shoulder width. They also allow for greater freedom of movement in the lower half of the body. Cloaks, with their length, can be delightfully warm—rather like a whole-body mitten—and offer greater range of movement inside the cloak. Lovely for keeping one’s hands warm, as well.

In summary, not either/or—BOTH! 🙂
 
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Pure speculation here - back when cloth was significantly more expensive for the average working person having a dual-purpose item (outwear & blanket) would make sense.  However, now that we are in the age of mechanical cloth production the cost has plummeted (relative to income) so everyone can have a blanket for their bed and a coat to wear.  Also a cloak is much easier to make than a coat.

Setting aside fashion considerations (someone likes the look of a cloak better than a coat) I'm not sure a cloak functions better at keeping you warm during outside activities than a coat.
 
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r ranson wrote:

Jerry Ward wrote:Does anyone know why cloaks are not part of outerwear anymore?



I also want to know this.



They're kinda bulky in the car, and likely get caught on stuff, as you walk by are the only reasons I can think of.
 
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r ranson wrote:I think we need to bring it back.

IF a cloak is what I think it is - a fitted blanket it's okay to wear in public - I can see a lot of advantages to wearing it either as outerwear, or over a coat in really bad weather.  

Heck, I can see wearing my about the house so I don't have to have the heating turned up as high.



Agreed.  Also, being able to double as a blanket I can see other uses:
* if there was an emergency like your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere you could spend the night
* how many times have you been walking around the 'stead in the early evening and thought "gee, it's a nice night out, I wish I could crash right here"

As far as why they fell out of favor, I don't know for sure, but if I had to guess I would say probably a matter of inconvenience vs necessity.
Inconvenience - like somebody mentioned, riding a bike... riding a horse would have had some of the same problems.
Necessity - sometime between travelers spending the night in the woods on the roadside (LOTR style) and them stopping at Motel 6, it became less necessary to keep their blanket always on their person.
 
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In older pattern books, the garments called capes were cleanly fitted over the shoulders and genererally shorter. They had more shaping, less volume and were roughly equivalent to the short jackets women wear today. In the 19th century, the sleeves of womens' clothing might be extensively decorated with lace cuffs, ruffles or puffy parts, none of which made it practical to have an outer garment with sleeves.
Any style of sleeve worked under a cape or mantle (which terms seem to be used interchangeably in this time period). the shorter length made it easy to carry a muff and to opeen doors or otherwise use hands without difficulty.

A cloak is a traveling garment which is long and relatively shapeless. It would keep dust and rain off one's clothes and keep a person warm while traveling in an unheated coach or out in the open in a cart or wagon. A large wool cloak is heavy and somewhat cumbersome.

Nowadays we don't get wet or dusty while traveling, and our clothes underneath are cheap to replace and easy to launder.
My two cents...
Edited to add why I think one is better:
Oh yeah, I think a cape is better because of convenience. A heavy wool cloak gets hung up on twigs and thorns and the hem drags up leaves and dirt, especially when traveling downhill. Uphill you can accidentally step on it and tear the fasteners off it or trip yourself. A cape that goes to hip length or so with the front divided to allow easy use of hands is a clear winner. It will still keep rain off and keep core warm, and it will fit over as few or as many layers as I want to wear.

(can you tell that I wear capes often, and that my lovely cloak sits in the closet and hardly gets out to play?)
 
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Jerry Ward wrote:Pure speculation here - back when cloth was significantly more expensive for the average working person having a dual-purpose item (outwear & blanket) would make sense.  However, now that we are in the age of mechanical cloth production the cost has plummeted (relative to income) so everyone can have a blanket for their bed and a coat to wear.  Also a cloak is much easier to make than a coat.



Capes & cloaks are not only easier to make, but are adaptable to a wider range of bodies as well. This makes capes & cloaks more likely to be both handed down and handed around. Good appeal there for working people. Coats, on the other hand, are much fussier to make and fit a smaller range of sizes, so less useful for multiple owners than capes/cloaks. Conspicuous consumption habits in history tend to favor items that are made just for one person—you’d get the wow factor of a “well-fitted coat”.

Once mechanization came into play and the price of fabric went down, that value of a well-fitted item was far more available to the masses, and of course that then became the trend. Eventually, that trend just became the baseline that everyone expected of outerwear, and capes/cloaks became fancy wear. At the same time, coats are more practical for manual labor, as you don’t  have all that fabric flapping about you. Convergence of circumstances  —>ascendency of the coat over the cape/cloak.
 
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To my mind, the problem with both of these things is that they get in the way while working. I like closer fitting clothing while working because it doesn't block my view or fall on the ground while completing tasks. The same reason why long skirts or dresses aren't functional for me. They get dirtier and aren't easier. Yes, they fit many sizes which is great as non-functional outerwear, like to attend social events or evening walks, but that's not my life. Just like long nails, they aren't practical for my lifestyle, if they are for yours, good on you.
 
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Capes are Carnaby Street, cloaks are Sherwood Forest.
 
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I would choose a cloak, but either wouldn’t work very well in Cape Breton - too windy🙄
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:To my mind, the problem with both of these things is that they get in the way while working. I like closer fitting clothing while working because it doesn't block my view or fall on the ground while completing tasks. The same reason why long skirts or dresses aren't functional for me. They get dirtier and aren't easier. Yes, they fit many sizes which is great as non-functional outerwear, like to attend social events or evening walks, but that's not my life. Just like long nails, they aren't practical for my lifestyle, if they are for yours, good on you.



I've found long skirts to be best for me on the farm.  It's important the front panel is flat, so it stays close to the body.  But I find it gives much better movement than trousers, can double as a wall when herding chickens, the extra fabric is good for trapping lambs when they need treatment, and the skirt seems less likely to get trapped in machinery.  The only time it did get trapped (on a ram, not a machine, but just as bad) the skirt came off whereas when trousers get caught in the machine, it takes my legs with them.  
 
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I like the cloak. I was a nurse back in the late 60's and we were given a cape to wear over our uniforms. It looked pretty smart, navy wool, with a brass button, certainly nicer than a sweater, but it did not cover and protect my uniform, keep my arms and hands warm, or shut out the chill Toronto winds or the gusts from the streetcars.   The cloak is voluminous. It covers from the top of the head if necessary to the ankles and if I flex my knees I can tuck my feet in. It is a blanket and can wrap and let me sleep. And it can also cover whatever I am holding.  Warm and safe and snuggly. UNLESS...it happens to be a cloak of INVISIBILITY. In that case the entire discussion takes on a totally altered potential and totally unlimited!  Don't we all prefer intrigue and a touch of magic?  Kimberlay
 
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Capes are short and super heroes have lost their lives getting sucked into things like jet engines because of their capes. Cloaks are longer, keep you warmer and drier, can be used as the ground cover when you want to sit in a beautiful wild setting!  One can nearly camp under a cloak, but not a cape.  


Watched part 1. Are parts 2 & 3 out yet?
 
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Ah, Geoff, clearly you have an opinion, but did you bother to vote? Tsk.

I plan to start a thread vis. "Outrageous Claims and Blatant Falsehoods." (No, really, in Meaningless Drivel.) I sincerely hope you will chime in.



I don't believe one can have an opinion on garments being better than one another, unless they are part of the same grouping of garments, and my earlier comment should have indicated that I did not think of capes and cloaks as part of the same group.  In terms of Valencia Orange vs Navel Orange for example, I could vote a preference, because the pragmatic uses of them are extremely similar, but capes and cloaks (and tabards?) are to me like oranges and pineapples, and in that case I would not vote.
 
Dc Stewart
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Capes are short and super heroes have lost their lives getting sucked into things like jet engines because of their capes.



Indeed. This and other dangers are graphically exposed in The Incredibles

 
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Last vote in apple poll was on September 20, 2022
 
Ew. You guys are ugly with a capital UG. Here, maybe this tiny ad can help:
Permaculture Playing Cards Poster now available!
https://permies.com/t/177901/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Poster
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