Cape or Poncho?
In autumn and winter, I tend to dress myself more practically than stylishly - unfortunately. I must remind myself repeatedly to create some new styles even if it’s freaking cold outside and I have a long working day in prospect.
When my sister came home after a long journey on the train she was wearing a beige poncho or cape with fringes at the end and looking fabulous and elegant in it. I was curious, if a poncho or cape is even practical and comfy or if it layers all around you and gets stuck in doors and so on.
She told me it’s like travelling in your pyjamas while still looking special and elegant. I decided I need one, too. But here's the difficult part: what's the difference between all those styles like poncho, cape or even a cloak? Which one to buy and how to style them? Let me give you some advice I learnt on my odyssey. First and foremost, let’s get into the history of these potentially warm over-garments.
Capes and cloaks originated during the last half of Europe’s Renaissance in the 16th and 17th centuries. I mention cloaks, because what we are currently calling capes should probably be called cloaks. A cloak was considered to be the full garment while a cape was just the portion of the garment that was tied around the shoulders.
You know you’re wearing a cape, if its maximum length meets your hip and it has a hood. A hood is a sure sign of a cape – think of Robin Hood. Dracula was undoubtedly milling around causing trouble in a cape and tied it in front.
Modern capes vary in length, have armholes, hoods, trench-coat fronts and buttons, etc. There is nothing that hasn’t been done to the modern cape.The poncho came into use in the indigenous cultures of South and Central America (exact year to be determined, but it was a long time ago, before the 16th century). A key difference from capes, aside from origin, is the shape of the fabric. A poncho is a rectangular piece of wool with a hole for the head. Furthermore, ponchos also come with fringe and pom-poms. Ponchos are more like blankets while a cape resembles a wide coat.
So, my sister had a cape and was wearing it like an alternative cardigan I would say. The cape is a champion when it comes to the question of how to combine it. Both poncho, cape (or the cloak) come in different fabrics, but ponchos tend to be more folkloric. I bought myself a beige cape out of a cashmere mix and love to combine it with skinny jeans and ankle boots when I feel like I need maximum comfort, flexibility and warmth during the day. And it’s true, when travelling by train it’s the perfect piece to feel like you’re at home on the couch. But don’t hesitate to combine a cape with a business suit, too.
Choose a skinny shaped skirt, high boots and a blouse and take the poncho as a warm and elegant fashion piece. But ponchos are just as nice as capes. Variations with an integrated roll collar warm the neck during the cold season. The ponchos of this winter, which are preferably made of coarse wool, can score points of comfort and freedom of movement both when shopping and being at home with a hot tea on the couch. This season ponchos are preferred in earth tones, but are also patterned and come in bright colors. What remains is the fringes on the hem –they were already trendy last winter.
So, which style do you prefer? The poncho, the cape or the cloak? Well, capes also come with hoods, but I prefer the cape as an alternative to wearing a cardigan. It really is a great fashion piece. Try it out yourself!