Fashion history shows that women are ever changing their minds about long
versus and short and it was the same with cloaks. As well as longer versions, shorter cloaks were in vogue from 1850 and were
ideal cover ups for wearing over the wider crinolines styles. Cloaks were
perfect to disguise pregnancy effectively for the Victorian fashion of large
families and along with the shawl they were an essential female garment. The
mantle cloak in the header up on the right of the page is similar in cut to the
line drawing of 1843 directly below.
Mantle Cloak Fur Trim
Mid Victorian Hip Cloak
The short cloak
construction was often merged with the hip length mantelet styles with semi fitted or
hanging loose sleeves. You can see in the illustrations below that the
cape and the mantelet had a similar silhouette as the 1880s progressed.
1887 Mantelet Front
about Mantelets and see a good range of colour fashion plate picture examples in the
Mantelet pages. Other jacket styles were also popular and they are
illustrated in other coats and jackets.
In the 1890s tailored masculine inspired coats and suits were thought ideal
for the new woman because they were practical and unobtrusive in appearance. But the huge sleeves of finer weight more feminine
garments, meant that a top layer in the form of a short cloak often now called a
cape was essential to
keep the torso warm.
Elderly women opted for the semi tailored functional look as shown in the
first four styles below. Hip length cloaks like these existed alongside the
shorter versions shown on the next page.
For those involved in historical costume re-enactment, getting the style
correct for the age of the wearer will ensure a more authentic look to a
More Elderly Cloak Styles
Feminine styles reigned for formal occasions and high shouldered much shorter
waist and above waist length
capes big enough to fit over the huge sleeve variations of the 1890s were ideal.
In costume history terms this was the era of
La Belle Époque and the decorative capes are a good
illustration of the embellishment skills executed at the time when everything
was made as ornate and beautiful in keeping with the mood of society.
The much more flirtatious, youthful frivolous styles of cloaks and capes, along
with typical fabrics of the 1890s, are illustrated on the
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