Capes and wraps were often worn with evening dress in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s. Coats with dolman sleeves — or fur trimmed coats of various shapes — took over in the later twenties. Here, I want to share two vintage wraps — one is especially luxurious.
High, crushed or textured collars were usually a feature.
One of the most difficult things about wearing these wraps was that most of them had to be held closed to stay on.
Imagine trying to climb into a taxi while holding your clutch purse in one hand and keeping your cloak from falling off with the other!
This vintage garment carries the problem to an extreme; there are no fastenings and no slits for the arms.
It was very heavy, and may have been built on a base of wool. It cleverly gives the impression of fur by using cream lace over a thick, slightly darker (duvetyn?)fabric at top and bottom; in the middle is a rectangle of golden-tan velvet, gathered to fit. Perhaps it had a matching lace, or lace and velvet, gown.
Paris was showing equally hard-to-wear open capes for daytime in 1925:
A Gold Lamé, Gold Lace and Metallic Bullion Cape
I do not have a photo of the front of this spectacular gold lamé and gold lace, cape/wrap with gold tassels and bullion fringe. It was awesomely heavy, very dusty, in need of restoration, but originally of very fine quality. (No label.)
It has slits for the arms, an interior pocket, and buttons at the neck and chest. You can get some idea of the front from these details:
You can see the slit for the wearer’s hands, and a bit of the Nile green lining.
My hand gives you an idea of the size of these tassels:
This is the base of the collar in front. You can see that there are two covered buttons on the yoke, between the collar and the decorative fringe trim.
The collar, the top third, and bottom third of the cape are covered with metallic gold lace in a floral pattern:
In this pocket detail, you can see that the entire coat is covered in metallic lace, so that the subtle shine is continuous.
Luxurious capes were still being shown in Paris in 1925:
But coats with sleeves, much easier to wear, were becoming more popular.
See the Lelong sketched here, with a matching fur-trimmed shawl.
“Tricks of the Trade” Tip: If you make a cape the simplest way, by gathering fabric into a straight neckband, the weight of the cape will pull against your throat. Make your cape with a yoke, so that the weight of the fabric hangs from your shoulders, not your neck. This cape has a yoke; this one doesn’t.