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View Full Version : Why did capes go out of fashion?


Alcibiades
06-16-2003, 10:41 PM
Someone once told me that capes went out of fashion because of an association with facism in the 1920s. A trawl of Google reveals nothing. Does anyone know?

Nanoda
06-16-2003, 11:11 PM
I always thought it was the tophat, walking cane and diamond stickpin association that did them in. Along with the waxed moustache and monocle accessories... man that would be cool. Now I want a cape. :D

Alcibiades
06-16-2003, 11:15 PM
The Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org) merely notes that they are the accessories of superheroes and vampires. Yet they were very common even in Dickensian times. What happened?

A fashion mystery.

etgaw1
06-16-2003, 11:16 PM
Personally, I still like capes, but then agian my fashion sense leaves much to be desired.


etgaw1

ubermensch
06-16-2003, 11:52 PM
It didn't die out with the freak/goth/drama major who lived on my floor senior year.

stoyel
06-16-2003, 11:57 PM
My suspicion is that good ol' natural selection kicked in around the time of the industrial revolution -- they don't heat those factories, in general, but people who wore long, trailing bits of cloth around heavy machinery with few or zero safety precautions... Well, if they hadn't reproduced up 'till then, it's not likely that they would afterwards.

Cyn
06-17-2003, 12:33 AM
Capes use a lot more fabric than jackets---the one Drachillix made for me has yards and yards, but do I look smashing!?!

Gary T
06-17-2003, 12:50 AM
A cape would have to be much less effective than a button-up coat in cold weather with strong wind. More fabric for less protection = goodbye, cape.

MarlaDurden
06-17-2003, 12:58 AM
Only cool people, like Dracula and Batman can wear capes and really pull it off.

MarlaDurden
06-17-2003, 01:00 AM
Did Spiderman have a cape?

Gary T
06-17-2003, 01:01 AM
No.

MarlaDurden
06-17-2003, 01:02 AM
He should have. He'd have been much sexier.
Prince wore a cape. He was sexy. LMAO.

Alcibiades
06-17-2003, 01:42 AM
The reason I ask is because I recall reading something on the DC Comics message baord about it. Someone said that caped gents were beaten in anti-facist riots in Italy prior to the rise of Mussolini. I just can't find anything suporting that statement.

Paul in Qatar
06-17-2003, 08:07 AM
Automobiles and such.

You see long coats (and capes) don't work well in cars, you end up sitting on them. In much the same way long military coats (for the field) are no longer used, too tough in a fighting vehicle.

I still have my old policeman's rain cape. I love it. Very distintive.

HeyHomie
06-17-2003, 08:23 AM
FTR, there is (or was) a store in New Orleans, on Decatur Street near the French Quarter, that sold clothes made in an "alternative" factory. IOW, they were made in a factory that employed disabled, MRDD people, etc.

The place had lots of Dickensian garments, including top hats, capes and the like.

CalMeacham
06-17-2003, 08:25 AM
It happened after Dollar Bill got his caught in a revolving door, then got plugged while he was stuck. Night Owl warned about having fashion designers coming up with practical crime-fighter garb.



I read it in Watchmen. It has to be true.

DrFidelius
06-17-2003, 08:38 AM
Capes are out of fashion?

Next you will be telling me I shouldn't wear my underwear over my tights...

ElectroSunDog
06-17-2003, 09:00 AM
Capes are for keeping you warm, blockhead.

Ethilrist
06-17-2003, 09:09 AM
Blast you, CalMeacham...

Johnny L.A.
06-17-2003, 09:21 AM
I agree with Paul in Saudi. Capes were very useful when you were driving a coach or had to walk about in the rain. (What is a cape, after all, but a king of poncho?) Drivers would wear capes to protect them from the elements as they drove their coaches and wagons, and toffs would wear them to protect their elegant clothes. But they lost their utility when we started getting around in enclosed cars.

Sock Munkey
06-17-2003, 10:00 AM
Spider-man would get all tangled up in a cape the way he leaps and tumbles around.

Alcibiades
06-17-2003, 10:48 AM
Originally posted by Johnny L.A.
I agree with Paul in Saudi. Capes were very useful when you were driving a coach or had to walk about in the rain. (What is a cape, after all, but a king of poncho?) Drivers would wear capes to protect them from the elements as they drove their coaches and wagons, and toffs would wear them to protect their elegant clothes. But they lost their utility when we started getting around in enclosed cars.

Coaches had doors, as far back as 17th century France.

Or so historical movie epics would have me believe.

netscape 6
06-17-2003, 11:50 AM
but someone had to drive the coach. he had to set out in the elements.

netscape 6
06-17-2003, 12:00 PM
but someone had to drive the coach. he had to set out in the elements.

Alcibiades
06-17-2003, 10:07 PM
No clear answer then. Bummer.

Lightnin'
06-17-2003, 10:16 PM
I'm going to have to agree. I've got a nice, comfy, stylin' cloak that I had made for the Renaissance Festival. And, while it's all of the above, it certainly isn't good in an enclosed vehicle- I always have to take it off when I get into a car.

But it's damn comfortable just walkin' around.

Trigonal Planar
06-17-2003, 11:38 PM
When were capes ever in style? I know people used to wear long trailing coats but I can't say I've seen people wearing capes as common dress.

CrankyAsAnOldMan
06-17-2003, 11:49 PM
Well, since no one else is coming up with a good answer, allow me to continue in that vein.

My mom made me a cape for my December wedding. I didn't want it white, because I'd hoped to wear it for other events. It's black wool with a purple lining. Damn do I love that thing. I haven't worn it for formal occasions, but it's been a witch cape for two halloweens and it's terribly fun to wear. She was planning to cut it down (it's ankle-length) but I love it too much long.

Fredge
06-18-2003, 07:44 AM
It's Darwinian; everyone who had capes came to the painful and untimely conclusion that "Cape does not enable wearer to fly".

Alcibiades
06-18-2003, 07:58 AM
Ah, but you see, superheroes had capes because they looked flamboyant: specifically, like professional wrestlers and circus entertainers of the 1930s. They are also good to illustrate movement in a drawing.

Lissla Lissar
06-18-2003, 08:25 AM
Cloaks were still in regular use at the turn of the century, which was considerably post-Industrial Revolution. They were even still used a bit during the 20's and 30's. My guess combines fabric scarcity in the second WW, plus the enclosed space argument.

And coats are warmer, yard for yard. :D Cloaks are still neat, though.

Johnny L.A.
06-18-2003, 08:59 AM
Coaches had doors, as far back as 17th century France.
True. But as netscape 6 pointed out, someone had to drive them. Also, coach interiors were different from interiors of cars and a cloak or cape would not have been as cumbersome as they would be getting in and out of a Honda Civic.

BMalion
06-18-2003, 09:41 AM
Originally posted by Alcibiades
No clear answer then. Bummer.

Incorrect, Paul in Saudi nailed it spot-on. Just because someone cannot imagine why or how capes were worn doesn't change the fact that they were worn. Until automobiles the upper-classes were not in control of their modes of transportation. They were passengers who sat on their duffs and did not control the horses pulling the coach. The reason they wore capes was to be warm.

Automobiles and heaters are the same reason coats have gotten shorter and lighter.

originally posted by Lissla Lissar
And coats are warmer, yard for yard


Not really. Or we'd be using coats instead of blankets and sleeping bags at night.

originally posted by Trigonal Planar
When were capes ever in style? I know people used to wear long trailing coats but I can't say I've seen people wearing capes as common dress.


That's because you haven't seen me go to the opera;)

Seriously, as recently as FDR wearing his cape over his wheelchair. That's one of the last examples I can come up with. Here's a photo of him wearing it at Yalta (http://history.acusd.edu/gen/20th/coldwar1.html)

msgotrocks
06-18-2003, 09:54 AM
Maybe it has something to do with sewing machines - more of them in people's homes, better ones in factories.
It's already been stated that capes take up much more fabric than coats and offer less warmth. Sewing machines made it quicker and easier for people to sew more tailored garments in heavy fabrics. So a person could make a cheaper, more practical garment with about the same effort.

I have a feeling it probably came about as a result of many things. Darwinism in fashion.

yoyo3500
06-18-2003, 10:17 AM
Actually, I still wear a cape. I don't think they went out of fashion. My cape goes especially well with my tights and underwear, which I tend to wear as outerwear.

BMalion
06-18-2003, 10:31 AM
Originally posted by msgotrocks
[WAG]It's already been stated that capes take up much more fabric than coats and offer less warmth.

Stated but still not true.

I have been an historical re-enactor for almost 15 years. I have spent thousands of dollars re-creating garment from ancient Rome, Ireland, Scotland, Georgian England and Victorean England. Both civilian and military. I have camped out in winter snow dressed as a Viking and stood guard in August, in the Victorville desert (110 degrees in the shade) wearing The 24th Regiment afoot Zulu War regalia. My research has taken me to viking excavations in Dublin to the Vatican in Rome.

Anyway... I can tell you from my own personal experience that capes are very warm and comfy in bitter cold and rain. Much better than coats, until you need to operate machinery (Other factors are money, amount of wool, new waterproofing technology, wartime wool shortages, Beau Brummel, and so forth.) It's as simple as that. Most every post since Paul in Saudi have been guessing and speculation. Just google "history fashion capes" and look at all the sites.

Woeg
06-18-2003, 10:36 AM
This is one of the many reasons I love medieval re-creation...I get to wear my cloak regularly, and not look funny! :)

For the record, my cloak is WAY warmer than my coats typically are, and better at hold the heat in. I think it has to do with the fact that, being not as tight to the body, it allows a warm layer of air to form between it and your body.

It's damned comfortable for all things, save driving and operating machinery...but on a cold morning, when I am doing wake-up calls for events, it's my most prized article of clothing.

FisherQueen
06-18-2003, 10:50 AM
Another re-creator checking in to say, on a cold, wet day, I would much rather be in a cloak than a coat, and I'm quite bitter that modern fashions do not allow me to wear my long wool cloak everywhere without looking silly. The only reason coats are superior is that they allow you more movement of the arms and hands.

Tir Tinuviel
06-18-2003, 12:37 PM
Originally posted by Gary T
A cape would have to be much less effective than a button-up coat in cold weather with strong wind. More fabric for less protection = goodbye, cape.
Actually, I find that my floor length cloak is much warmer then my long coat. Wind doesn't matter too much, as the clock is so large that one side can easilly be pulled over the opposite shoulder to stop the wind getting through or blowing it open. Traps a nice layer of heat around you. yum!

Like Woeg and FisherQueen my favorite cloak was bought at a re-enactment festival, but I'd been wearing one for years before that. I still wear it fairly often in the winter.

I kinda get away with it, what with the fangs and all... ;)