It had a brief renaissance about two years ago in Vogue filtering eventually down to H and M and the likes but not a peep has been heard about it since... until this week in Armstrongs. I have a theory about this... the cape is not ideal for the modern woman who wants to walk to work with a coffee in one hand and tweet manically on her i-phone with the other. It is not great for trying to get your bus money ready before the bus mows you over on the way past or whipping out your oyster card for a multiple change tube journey. In these circumstances the cocooning comfort of the straight jacket like cape is, I agree, a little impractical.
The poncho has existed since the beginning of fashion history, however the cape in its current form can be traced back to the 1800s when anyone of substance would be able to produce a selection of heavily embellished numbers for a multitude of occasions. Indeed a lady was strongly advised to have not one but three evening wraps (capes) within her trousseau were she to be taken seriously in high society. So what happened to this high status, highly practical garment? Well unfortunately for the cape, the coat came along and this boasted something that the cape could never offer; a sleeve.
There are however, a number of positives applicable to the twenty first century cape. It has a certain elegance in its billowing structure and wide hood, anyone confident enough to wear a garment which denies to accentuate anything other than the width of their shoulders has to be commended. More importantly, it covers a multitude of sins - a large lunch or a stain on a dry clean only ensemble. Even the generic hangover combo of 80s jumper and saggy leggings can be disguised as something rather chic when paired with an over the knee boot and the faithful cape. So this winter at Armstrongs why not go a bit Florence Nightingale and spend your coffee money on a cape instead.