When you think of long cloaks of Gothic style, do you think of witches, little red riding hood, and other fantastical characters? There’s more to Gothic cloaks than there appears to be. Long cloaks have been used for centuries as a protective outer layer to protect one’s clothing, for warmth, as blankets, and as fashion accessories.
Cloaks eventually became fashion pieces starting in Europe as only the wealthy could afford the delicate fabrics that were used to create these cloaks. Royalty wore cloaks as a symbol of their power and wealth. You’ll see cloaks worn in a lot of royal portraits. Cloaks were a way to show your status to others. As Gothic fashion became more prominent, so did the way cloaks were made. Cloaks were then being made with many materials, embroideries, and different colored fabrics. The buttons and brooches holding the cloaks on were far more desirable than when cloaks were only used for warmth. By the time the 1950s rolled around, cloaks were merely evening wear for rather fancy occasions along with wraps and shawls as now people were wearing their jackets and coats for warmth.
Let it be known that cloaks and capes are not the same thing. A cape is more of a symbol of a superhero. Both have similarities, such as the fabric is hanging freely without sleeves and fastened in the front. Cloaks are usually longer than capes because if a superhero were wearing a long cape, it could get caught, causing them to lose the villain they’re chasing. Capes are generally thinner than cloaks and are accessories as opposed to being used for warmth. Some of my favorite superheroes wear capes like Batgirl, Superman, Robin (sidekick, I know. Still awesome), and Batman. Can you imagine these heroes without their capes? They would look odd. I’m curious, wouldn’t it be hard to fly with a cape? Edna Mode from from the Incredibles seems to think capes are the wrong choice, especially for those heroes who fly because their cape could get pulled backwards.
Have you ever noticed that a cloak’s shape is similar to that of a bell? Interestingly, the word cloak is derived from the French words cloke meaning cloak and cloche meaning bell. Many centuries ago, a cloak was more of a circular cut of fabric with a hole cut out for the head — no fastenings, nothing fancy, just material to protect you. Cloaks have changed a lot over the centuries. We first started with a cover of animal fur in prehistoric times. The men, women, and children would wear these for protection from the elements. Next was the scarlet cloak. This cloak is the one we most think of when we think of cloaks. It’s the floor-length, hooded, clasped cloak. Mantelets and short styles were worn by many as they became more about fashion than practicality. The neckline changed a lot over the years as it went from hooded, to low neckline, to high neckline, to dog collar necks. The sleeves were among the changing aspects as well as we went from sleeveless to partial sleeve, to more of a robe, and then to what we know as modern jackets and coats. You still see robes with sleeves a lot with people of the clergy, graduation robes, some parliaments still wear robes, and judges.
Cloaks have been made with a multitude of different materials such as velvet, chiffon, lace, wool, tweed, silk, satin, etc. The best fabric seems to be wool as it would keep one the warmest, which seems like the primary goal of these cloaks. Cloaks have either a clasp, brooch, or string material on the front to keep the cloak on oneself. You may also see a trim of some fur or faux fur on these cloaks. Cloaks come in a variety of different colors. Which colored cloak would suit you? Personally, I tend to steer more towards reds, blacks, and purples. My dream cloak would be a deep purple, floor-length, hooded cloak with a genuine pearl button clasp. Simple and elegant all at the same time, and deep purple is always a fantastic choice.
The term Gothic comes from an art form during the late middle ages and the original Goths who were a Germanic Tribe mentioned from the ancient Romans. The Gothic art period refers to Gothic architecture, among other things. Gothic architecture is known as being hauntingly beautiful, but did you know many famous buildings were done in Gothic architecture? Some key factors to help you picture Gothic Architecture are gargoyles, ornate interiors, and arches. Today, people think of Gothic as people who are into the occult, and into all things that are considered to be dark. In actuality, Gothic people came from the tribes of Visigoth and Ostrogoths. Today when the word Goth is said, people think of black clothing and the occult. People tend to be put off by their appearance, though there’s no reason to be.
When thinking of the word Gothic I think of dark clothing, black lipstick, dark eyeliner, and cloaks. Gothic long cloaks would add an eclectic touch to any outfit, but it got me thinking how well these cloaks would coordinate with Gothic and steampunk clothing? Gothic clothing isn’t a standardized style. I’ve seen long black corset dresses with petticoats underneath, black mini skirts, fishnet stockings, and basic black tee-shirts and black denim. It doesn’t always have to be black either, but those who wear Gothic clothing around me have usually worn black. All of these looks could be enhanced with a cloak because the feel of Gothic culture in itself is eclectic, and cloaks today are eclectic because they’re out of the ordinary, everyday clothes. We only see cloaks in the month of October or when a new franchisee comes out, such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, or Once Upon a Time.
AshleyOctober 27, 2020 at 7:00 pm
A cloak is so dramatic and fun!
Le Stylo Rouge
LovelyOctober 28, 2020 at 5:45 am
Great to know the history of cloaks!