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iStyle: Caped crusaders

There is a certain undeniable theatrical element to wearing a cape; the exact amount of swashbuckling, however, is entirely up to the wearer, says Emma Akbareian

There’s something very dramatic about sweeping into a room with your coat billowing out behind. While it may seem appropriate to reference costumes on Halloween, we’re not actually talking fancy dress; the cape is far more sartorially sophisticated.

At Valentino for autumn/winter 2013 the capes were stark in colour and simple in cut, but falling just below the knee and buttoned simply at the top, there was a fairytale feel to them; think Little Red Riding Hood. At Emilio Pucci the look was a far sexier one; capes in a largely darker palette were paired with superhero style over-the-knee boots.

One of the most undeniably appealing features of this form of outerwear is its inherent practicality; chunky knitwear and fitted coats are never a good combination – but a cape will rest comfortably on top of layers. There’s also the added bonus of not having to battle with buttons and zips. The cape is simple and hassle-free, with a real cosiness factor, but at the same time lends its wearer an enviable dose of insouciant style.

It can also be an intelligent choice for the discerning dresser – when the exact length of the cape and what you wear on your bottom half is taken into consideration; a longer style that falls mid-thigh or below is great for disguising problem areas and elongating the body. The trick is to ensure capes are always paired with either fitted trousers or a short skirt to balance out proportions.

Emilio Pucci demonstrated the versatility of the cape as evening wear, shown in a characteristically opulent fashion with long sweeping styles over brocade mini-dresses.  Look to camel as the archetypal classic outerwear colour for the daytime, no matter what the form. A cape in this shade is a good long-term investment which will see you through many an adventure.