A Cape’s Secret To Success

August 25, 2011

It’s clear you’ve saved the day on many occasions at the office and on the home front. Thanks to the cape’s comeback this fall season, you can proudly wear your modern day hero’s cape in celebration of your unique and generous super powers!

Today’s Wonder Woman is up-to-date with the times and dons a contemporary cape – one that doesn’t look like a comic book costume. You know you’ve taken a wrong turn when the cape has become your outfit’s primary focal point and overpowers your body frame and dynamism.

Wear one well to reenergize your super powers – you will instantly feel lively and confident!

The trick to looking ultra chic in your real world cape is to pay attention to proportion. You want to visually balance the perception of extra weight you’ve added to your upper body by wearing a cape with the lower half of your body.

The best way to ensure a successful ratio is by following these style guidelines:

Pair With Pants – Wear your cape with skinny jeans or narrow straight-legged trousers. You can even combine with boot legged pants as long as you have super long legs or create the illusion of super long legs by wearing heels. Dresses and skirts are very tricky to wear with a cape, so I would not recommend them.

Note Length – Pay attention to the length of your cape to assure overall body proportion. A cape’s length that rests at the widest part of your hips or in-line with the bottom of your buttocks will flatter your body shape best, plus keep the cape in proportion to your body frame.

Strategic Button Placement – Modern capes are often designed with double or single breasted button-fronts. Both designs are fashionable. The most challenging body shape to dress in a cape is full-bosomed. Unlike double-breasted jackets, which often attract attention to your bustline, double-breasted capes and coats often minimize this region. All those buttons visually break up the large piece of fabric used in both pieces of outerwear and draw attention away from the bustline towards the entire garment itself. If you are unable to find a becoming double-breasted cape, I recommend instead selecting a charming, single button-down cape to elongate your frame and give you a dashing, energetic look. For you less busty gals, you can easily wear both stylish options.

Fabric Weight – Since a cape already visually adds weight to your upper body, the last thing you want to do is add more visual weight with super thick fabric. I love Loft’s (aka. formerly Ann Taylor Loft) version of a sweater cape, as shown above! A soft knit is comfortable to wear, plus this one is not bulky so your entire outfit has a better chance of being proportional. A sweater cape may not keep you warm enough, depending upon your climate and body temperature, in which case a thin wool cape will work beautifully.

What is your take on the “Cape Concept?” If you are willing to add it to your wardrobe, will a cape fit better into your work or weekend wear , or both?

Top image credit: Loft Leather Trim Double-Breasted Cape $108, available in September at Loft.

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  • Laurie Rosenfeld

    What a refreshing and energizing post! I feel like a Super Woman just reading it. 🙂 Great tips Kristina! I like the look of capes (and love the one in this photo) but can’t pull them off myself. I am thin with a short-waist, long legs, and yet am only 4’11” tall. Capes and anything double-breasted or heavy in fabric overpowers me. The single button cape in your link is attractive too. The A-line shape is a good one for me although I generally find that I need to wear longer tunic-style tops and jackets because they make me look taller. Any advice? Are body types for whom a cape is not flattering? 

  • Corporate Fashionista

    Laurie – You can certainly wear a cape! It will actually create body balance between your short waist and long legs and even make you look taller. Just be sure to follow the length requirements I suggest in the post. I would also recommend that you do go with the single button-down version – get one where the buttons are not too big and bold. A thinner material is important for you, but more important is to look for a cape with some added simple design details like narrow piping or incorporation of more than one non-bold color. These details will counterbalance your petite frame. Don’t miss out on all the fun!

  • Kelly (stiletto hardware)

    i’m really liking the cape look.  I recently saw a trench cape from stella mccartney that is georgeous.  great article!

  • Corporate Fashionista

    Thanks Kelly! I luv Stella too.

  • This post put a huge smile on my face. I certainly know that I could use lots of direction in the fashion arena so I will definitely be back!

  • Corporate Fashionista

    So happy to have you join us, Jenn!