Alicia Healey

The return of the cape coat

The return of the cape coat
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One of my favourite off-duty pictures of HM the Queen is this photo taken at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 1979. I love the look of HM’s long pink tweed cape worn with a matching silk headscarf and leather boots. A simple, understated country casual outfit but she still has an air of superwoman about her from her choice of cover up – the cape. 

It is a popular outer garment with the Royal ladies of all generations, demonstrating its timeless and classic appeal. There is something undoubtedly regal about this style of outerwear, reminiscent of the coronation robes. Princess Diana often opted for a long velvet cape in the 80s over her evening gowns – protecting her from the winter chill but still enabling her to make a grand entrance for the cameras. 

More recently, the younger royals have embraced the cape detail to add a contemporary twist to classic tailoring, or a touch of drama to eveningwear – think The Duchess of Cambridge’s blue mulberry cape coat worn in Northern Ireland in February 2019, or her recent show-stopping appearance at the Bond premiere wearing a glittering gold Jenny Packham cape gown. In both instances, the cape details serve no function other than to add style – the cape silhouette is photo-friendly and always stands out from the crowd.

The Duchess of Cambridge during a 2019 visit to Northern Ireland

Not only are capes stylish, they’re very practical and comfortable, too – the open arm area makes it easy to wear chunky knitwear underneath and move your arms with ease. They’re the perfect solution if you’re fond of a statement sleeve and don’t want to completely obscure your outfit. The shorter jacket style lends itself well to transitional seasons, so is perfect for this time of year in the UK when the weather can be unpredictable and we’re not quite yet committed to the winter coat. They are also a very flattering fit for all sizes – the loose cut and lack of seams will be forgiving of any winter indulgence and they are a great addition to a maternity wardrobe. Add a regal touch to your winter wardrobe with my pick of the most stylish capes that are available now.

The crème de la crème of capes – I wouldn’t mind enduring the winter chill all year round if this cocoon of cashmere by Hermes was in my wardrobe.

This navy check cape from Joules has a waist tie to cinch in the waist. Wear over a roll-neck jumper and jeans for a casual but chic winter weekend outfit.

This cashmere/wool burgundy cape from Burberry is reversible, giving it extra versatility bonus points.

A forest green wool cape with shearling shoulder detail by Karen Millen – wear with black boots for town or mix it up with burgundy or brown boots for country walks.

This blush pink cashmere cape from Loro Piana makes me want to take a trip to Narnia in a snow carriage. Dark colours are an obvious choice for the colder months, but winter whites and neutrals can look so sophisticated. Just keep them away from pets and small children!

If you want the structure and coverage of a coat but like the style of capes, then you could opt for a hybrid like this coat with cape detail – new from The Fold, in a lovely cranberry shade of red – a great addition to a working wardrobe or as a cover-up for the festive season. I could see this making an appearance on one of the young royal ladies at Sandringham this Christmas.

Alternatively this classic black cape jacket with gold buttons from Zara will elevate any outfit. For a classic Parisian chic look, wear over a long-sleeved Breton top with blue jeans and contrast toe flats. It would also work well with a crisp white shirt and tailored trousers for a work look. The slightly more structured cut would suit longer dresses, too. A versatile cover-up for all occasions.

Add an effortlessly elegant layer to your jeans and jumper with this camel cape coat from Phase Eight. I also love the fluid form of this elegant long black cape by Valentino – the longer length would work well with dresses. Comfort blankies aren’t just for children – if anyone needs me this winter, they’ll find me snuggled up in this pink check Scottish cashmere stole from the House of Bruar.

Written byAlicia Healey

Alicia Healey is a stylist and former Buckingham Palace housemaid.

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