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A cape is a sleeveless
outer garment Outerwear is clothing File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel and attire) are items worn on the body. Clothing is typically made of fabrics ...
, which drapes the wearer's back, arms, and chest, and connects at the neck.


History

Capes were common in
medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, especially when combined with a
hood Hood may refer to: Covering Apparel * Hood (headgear) An infant wearing a hood. A hood is a kind of headgear that covers most of the human head, head and neck, and sometimes the face. Hoods that cover mainly the sides and top of the head, an ...

hood
in the chaperon. They have had periodic returns to
fashion Fashion is a form of self-expression and autonomy at a particular period and place and in a specific context, of clothing Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fab ...

fashion
- for example, in nineteenth-century Europe.
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's s and practices. Some of the terms used for ind ...
wear a type of cape known as a
ferraiolo Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wearing the ferraiolo, 1952. The ferraiolo (also ferraiuolo, ferraiolone) is a type of cape traditionally worn by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church on formal, non-liturgical occasions. It can be worn over the shoulders ...
, which is worn for formal events outside a ritualistic context. The
cope The cope (known in Latin as ''pluviale'' 'rain coat' or ''cappa'' 'cape') is a liturgical vestment, more precisely a long mantle or cloak, open in front and fastened at the breast with a band or clasp. It may be of any liturgical colours, litu ...

cope
is a liturgical
vestment Vestments are liturgical Liturgy is the customary public worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a recognition ...
in the form of a cape. Capes are often highly decorated with elaborate embroidery. Capes remain in regular use as rainwear in various
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...

military
units and
police The police are a Law enforcement organization, constituted body of Law enforcement officer, persons empowered by a State (polity), state, with the aim to law enforcement, enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citize ...

police
forces, in France for example. A gas cape was a voluminous military garment designed to give rain protection to someone wearing the bulky
gas mask A gas mask is a mask A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance, or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremony, ceremonial and pragmatism, practical purposes ...

gas mask
s used in twentieth-century wars. Powerful noblemen and elite warriors of the
Aztec Empire The Aztec Empire, or the Triple Alliance ( nci, Ēxcān Tlahtōlōyān, Help:IPA for Nahuatl, jéːʃkaːn̥ t͡ɬaʔtoːˈlóːjaːn̥, was an alliance of three Nahua peoples, Nahua city-states: , , and . These three city-states ruled th ...

Aztec Empire
would wear a
tilmàtli A ''tilmàtli'' (or ''tilma''; nci, tilmahtli, ) was a type of outer garment worn by men as a cloak Cloak, 1580-1600 Victoria and Albert Museum no. 793-1901 A cloak is a type of loose garment that is worn over indoor clothing File:K ...
; a
Mesoamerican Mesoamerica is a historical and important region and cultural area in southern North America and most of Central America. It extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Cost ...
cloak/cape used as a symbol of their upper status. Cloth and clothing was an upmost importance to the Aztecs. The more elaborate and colorful tilmàtlis were strictly reserved for elite high priests,
emperors An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the he ...
; and the
Eagle warriors of Tenochtitlan Image:Florentine Codex IX Aztec Warriors.jpg, An Eagle warrior (left) depicted holding a macuahuitl in the Florentine Codex Eagle warriors or eagle knights (Classical Nahuatl: ''cuāuhtli'' (singular) or ''cuāuhmeh'' (plural)'' ...
as well as
Jaguar knights Jaguar warriors or jaguar knights, ''ocēlōtl'' (singular) or ''ocēlōmeh'' (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It m ...
.


Semantic distinction

In fashion, the word ''“cape”'' usually refers to a shorter garment and ''“
cloak Cloak, 1580-1600 Victoria and Albert Museum no. 793-1901 A cloak is a type of loose garment that is worn over indoor clothing File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing ( ...

cloak
”'' to a full-length version of the different types of garment, though the two terms are sometimes used synonymously for full-length coverings. The fashion cape does not cover the front to any appreciable degree. In raingear, a cape is usually a long and roomy protective garment worn to keep one dry in the rain.


Use in formal wear

In full
evening dress
evening dress
,
ladies
ladies
frequently use the cape as a
fashion statement Fashion is a form of self-expression and autonomy at a particular period and place and in a specific context, of clothing File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also kn ...
, or to protect the wearer or the fine
fabrics A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibre Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no) is a natural or man-made substance that is signific ...

fabrics
of their evening-wear from the elements, especially where a
coat A coat typically is an outer garment Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an inter ...
would crush—or hide—the garment. These capes may be short (over the shoulders or to the waist) or a full-length cloak. Short capes were usually made of, or trimmed in,
fur Fur is a thick growth of hair Hair is a protein filament In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular bi ...

fur
; however, because fur is less accepted as a fashion accessory in modern times, other expensive materials are substituted for it, with an opulent
lining Lining may refer to: * Lining (sewing), the process of inserting an inner layer of fabric, fur, or other material * Lining of paintings, the process of restoration paintings by attaching a new canvas to the back of the existing one * Brake lining ...
and trim. Typical fabrics used are
velvet Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking network of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, ...

velvet
,
silk Silk is a natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all o ...

silk
, and
satin A satin weave is a type of fabric A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibre Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no) is a natural o ...

satin
. Capes are still authorized as an alternative to the more utilitarian
trench coat –coloured trenchcoat (2018). A trench coat or trenchcoat is a coat variety made of waterproof heavy-duty cotton Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of t ...
for
U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agriculture ...
officers in
mess dress Mess dress uniform is the most formal (or semi-formal wear, semi-formal, depending on the country) type of uniforms used by military personnel, Police officer, police personnel, and other uniformed services members. It frequently consists of a ...
, formal evening uniform.


The caped overcoat variant

Caped overcoats were popular for men during the Victorian era, with some caped Ulsters featuring multiple layered capes, and the Inverness coat (both formal evening and working day variants) had a cape. The Inverness coat is no longer commonly worn (though it has begun to be revived, on a limited scale, in
steampunk Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that incorporates retrofuturistic technology and Applied arts, aesthetics inspired by 19th-century Industrial Revolution, industrial steam engine, steam-powered machinery. Steampunk works are often se ...

steampunk
fashion), and the Ulster lost its cape in the 1920s.


As protection

In modern times, capes are commonly used by hair and beauty salons for the purpose of hair styling services, in which usage they protect clothing from loose strands of hair being cut from the head and/or from the chemicals often used in such styling.


In fiction

The cape is a popular clothing item for
superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that possesses Superpower (ability), ''superpowers'', abilities beyond those of ordinary people, and fits the role of the hero, typically using his or her powers to help the World peace, world b ...

superhero
es (like
Superman Superman is a superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that possesses Superpower (ability), ''superpowers'', abilities beyond those of ordinary people, and fits the role of the hero, typically using his or her powers t ...

Superman
) in the American comic book genre. They are often used by comic book artists to create the illusion of motion in a still image. Most often, they are worn merely as a costume adornment. Other times, as in the case of
Batman Batman is a superhero who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and debuted in Detective Comics 27, the 27th issue of the comic book ''Detective Comics'' on Marc ...

Batman
, The Shroud, Cloak of Cloak & Dagger and cloak of
Doctor Strange Doctor Stephen Strange is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics Marvel Comics is the brand name and primary imprint of Marvel Worldwide Inc., formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics ...
the cape serves a functional purpose, such as gliding (Batman), transporting one to the Darkforce dimension (The Shroud), or initiating teleportation (Cloak). The supernatural character
Spawn Spawn or spawning may refer to: * Spawn (biology) Spawn is the eggs Eggs are laid by female animals of many different species, including bird egg, birds, reptiles, amphibians, a few monotreme, mammals, and fish, and many of these have bee ...
has a cape (actually a part of his living symbiotic costume) that obeys Spawn's mental commands, changing shape to scare, confuse or even kill would-be attackers, while
Meta Knight is a fictional character In fiction, a character (sometimes known as a fictional character) is a person or other being in a narrative (such as a novel, Play (theatre), play, television series, film, or video game). The character may be entirely f ...
of Kirby fame disguises his wings as a cape. Some media, such as ''
Watchmen ''Watchmen'' is an American comic book Limited series (comics), maxiseries by the British creative team of writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins (comics), John Higgins. It was published monthly by DC Comics in 1986 an ...

Watchmen
'' or ''
The Incredibles ''The Incredibles'' is a 2004 American computer-animated superhero film A superhero film (or superhero movie) is a film that is focused on the actions of one or more superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that posses ...
'', comment on the potentially lethal hazards of a cape.


See also

* Cape (dog) *
Cloak Cloak, 1580-1600 Victoria and Albert Museum no. 793-1901 A cloak is a type of loose garment that is worn over indoor clothing File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing ( ...

Cloak
*
Tilmàtli A ''tilmàtli'' (or ''tilma''; nci, tilmahtli, ) was a type of outer garment worn by men as a cloak Cloak, 1580-1600 Victoria and Albert Museum no. 793-1901 A cloak is a type of loose garment that is worn over indoor clothing File:K ...
*
Tippet A tippet is a scarf A scarf, plural ''scarves'', is a piece of fabric worn around the neck or head A head is the part of an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is an ...
*
Duster (clothing) A duster is a light, loose-fitting long coat. The original dusters were full-length, light-colored canvas or linen coats worn by horsemen to protect their clothing from trail dust. These dusters were typically slit up the back to hip level for ...

Duster (clothing)
*
Wrap (clothing) . Image:Wrap skirt.jpg, 200px, A woman wearing a wrap skirt. In the context of clothing, a wrap can refer to a shawl or stole (shawl), stole or other fabric wrapped about the upper body, or a simple skirt-type garment made by wrapping a piece of m ...


Notes

{{Clothing Medieval European costume Robes and cloaks