Regency and Georgian Cloak, Cape, and Muff - Pattern 135
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Cloak, Muff, and Cape - #135
First a quick note about the terms "cape, cloak, and mantle". All definitions I could find in print do not clearly differentiate between them. Some say that copes are short, but then there are opera capes which are usually long. Some say that cloaks have a hood, and then there are those that say they may not. I have chosen to call View A a cloak and Views B/C a cape for not other reason then to differentiate between the two views.
There is not a lot of information written about outer wear. Fortunately there are some fashion plates and extant examples to show they did indeed exist, were useful, and were around for a very long time in similar configurations. I have chosen to duplicate two extant examples I own, choosing them as being typical according to comparisons with other extant examples and those in drawings. Some of what I have read, when they mention outerwear as all, suggest that they were regarded as useful necessities in inclement weather, rather than as fashion accessories. This may account for their relative scarcity in fashion plates and period accounts.
Pictured above are the two extant capes/cloaks I own that were copied for this pattern. Go here for more photos of these two garments:
I have chosen the dates, 1750-1810, by using an example of a hooded cloak in the Williamsburg Collection, Accession number 1953-968 featured in the book "Costume Closeup" on page 54 which is very similar to View A. History and textile experts will know more about the dates than I can find in my reference books. It is quite possible that both the cloak and capes in this pattern were used earlier than 1750 and later than 1810. The earliest reference the View B/C I have found is in the drawing "A Harlot's Progress, Plate 1" by William Hogarth dated 1734. The figure sometimes described as the female procuress is wearing a similar garment. Some museums date examples of garments like View B/C as being worn as late as 1830.
Most extant extant examples of the long hooded cloak, View A, are made of either printed cotton or of plain wool, often red, testifying to the practical nature of the garment. Views B and C are a different story. Extant garments run the gamut of what is probably French printed muslin the the "Bonnes Herbes" style of Toiles de Jouy, to silk and satin. Pinterest is a good place to see examples. I have a board where I have collected some examples.
Click on the link for a pinterest page of more samples of this pattern:
Both of my extant garments have a type of self trim that was common. It is a type of ruching that I have not seen on other garments from other eras. The self trim is pinch-pleated in tiny pleats and stitched directly to the garment. It is not exactly cartridge pleating though it is similar.
Allowing for the fact that cloaks and capes were often worn for warmth, the muff was often worn with them. The muff was very much a fashion accessory. They were often huge, though medium and smaller sizes were worn. Men and women carried them. Muffs could be fur, trimmed with fur, or matching to the cape. Sometimes they featured embroidery in various styles.