Capes appear frequently on the runways but don’t always filter through to the mainstream. Yet their appearance in (relatively) large numbers in the pre-fall 17 lookbooks suggests designers think this might be the (pre-)season for them to make a breakthrough. Pre-fall is, after all, the most commercial of collections, not the time to make grand style statements that few people will wear.
Of course, their presence could equally well mean that many of these labels know they have just enough customers who will be happy to buy a piece of outerwear that’s not the most practical. It’s impossible to wear with a backpack or even a regular shoulder bag so that limits its reach.
But then again, this is the age of the mini bag-and-shopper combo and it works fine with them, so maybe the cape is more practical than you’d think.
What are the options for next year?
Tailored, retro-influenced capes offer something for almost everyone with an air of slightly subverted formality in dark woollens, given a military mood with epaulettes and brass buttons, or a more feminine edge with cutout leather pockets and bow trim.
Of course, take the same silhouette and interpret it in tapestry fabric, faux camo or a quirky animal motif and you have a traditional item that suddenly becomes key trend piece. This is the cape and a fun piece as much as one to act as practical outerwear. And don’t neglect leopard print. It’s having yet another moment for pre-fall so while there may not be any capes showing up in it yet, the potential’s there – especially when combined with a statement dark ground floral print.
But whether military stark or enjoyably patterned, it takes its directional as much from its styling as the materials used. Mixed with athleisure separates or one of the season’s key boot shapes you have a piece that may be challenging but certainly scores high on the influencer meter.
For those who like their outerwear a little more casual, there’s an alternative. Let’s face it, everyone who’s spent the past few years in a parka is hardly likely to fall in love with tailoring again that easily. So the serape or poncho is back in the limelight. Both work well with some of the more casual-casual or casual-dressy looks coming through, offering a nonchalant edge that’s easy to get away with for pre-season and works well if the weather proves slightly too cool or slightly too warm for more traditional outerwear.