Saturday, October 12, 2019

Let's Bring Cloaks Back

Whenever I step out of the house while draped in my wool cloak, I can never anticipate the reactions that people will have when they see me.  There was the man who yelled out "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" as I walked down the sidewalk one fall morning. There was the elderly man who stopped me in a parking lot because he wanted to know where I bought it, since, as he said, "I was looking for something like that for my wife." And then there was one delightful woman, a worker at the zoo, who asked me if I'd heard of a nearby Viking Festival (she then proceeded to put down her broom and give me an impromptu tutorial of how to make a cloak by hand and waterproof it with beeswax).

Recently, I was meandering through a retail store and a brightly-colored box caught my eye. I blankly stared at "The Comfy" before confusion flooded my mind. Sure, it looks cozy, I thought, but why-WHY-would someone wear a tacky-looking, hooded "blanket sweatshirt" instead of an elegant cloak?

Granted, there are times when I love to curl up on the couch while wrapped in a baggy sweatshirt. However, most times when the weather is chilly, I don a cloak. And I wonder: Why aren't cloaks commonly worn anymore? They emerge at medieval festivals and costume parties, and occasionally in ladies' fashion, but their sight in daily life is rare indeed. This is a tragedy, for cloaks are simply amazing.

When you wear a cloak, you are basically wearing a big blanket.
Draping your favorite warm blanket around your shoulders may be splendid and socially acceptable while at home, but it isn't quite "nice" enough for many social events. A cloak, however, can look very dignified. It can be dramatic, beautiful, and utterly stunning. However, no matter if it's made out of velvet, wool, silk, or linen, the reality remains that a cloak is, in essence, a big blanket. So, not only are cloaks cozy, but they are very practical for impromptu naptimes. 

There are few things as satisfying as watching your cloak swoosh through the air.
Walking outside on a slightly-windy day while wearing a cloak is one of life's great pleasures. As the fabric of my cloak ripples through the air, I experience a flutter of joy and happiness. I've noticed that some people like to watch flags wave in the wind and kites soar in the sky. In a similar way,  I like to watch my cloak swirl as I walk, spin, and scamper down the street.

Two words: BIG HOOD.
Getting to peek out from under a hood is one of the main reasons why I enjoy hooded sweatshirts. However, even those college "hoodies" cannot compare to the glorious hood of my cloak. It keeps my head warm, it looks great, and it's comfortable. As an added plus, because it's so large, I can pull it over my head and block out my surroundings, which is very convenient if I want to step into my own little world for a moment.

A cloak automatically elevates the splendor of your personal appearance.
This may be a sweeping and broad statement, but I have found it to be true: Many times, donning a cloak makes you look more spectacularly amazing than when you had no cloak. A cloak can be that "extra something" that pulls your outfit together. It can make you look dramatic. It can make you look fun. It can make you look intriguing. It can make you look just plain awesome. 

Cloaks can be very handy when you need to carry and/or breastfeed a baby.
When I had my first child, I noticed that Getting Ready for an Outdoor Excursion required a bit of creativity.  I had to wind the woven wrap around myself, put on my winter coat, then stick the baby in before wrapping everything back together. Breastfeeding involved a similar juggling act. A cloak is much easier to navigate in these situations! I still typically put a woven wrap on before putting on my cloak, but it is much easier to put my baby in the carrier (and adjust it) than when I'm wearing a structured coat. Plus, I've discovered that I can take the baby out of the wrap and then easily remove the woven wrap without removing my cloak first. When the baby needs to nurse, instead of having to struggle with zippers and letting in cold air, I can simply slip him through the front opening of my cloak. It's quick, it's easy, and it enables him to cozy under the warm cloak while he nurses. 

For centuries, people have worn cloaks. In  modern-day America, many monks, friars, and religious sisters continue to wear cloaks (or capes) of various styles. Historical reenactors and LARPers don them periodically for events. I am grateful that these different groups of people have helped keep the art and practice of wearing a cloak alive. However, I don't understand why Dominicans and Lord of the Rings role players should have all the fun. We too can wear cloaks. We don't even need to wait for a "special occasion" or a costume party. We can wear cloaks right now. 

I want to empower you with the knowledge that you can experience the joy of watching your cloak dance in the wind...that you can let your flair for the dramatic manifest itself in this timeless garment...that like the heroes of old, you can wear a cloak with honor and dignity. 

Let's bring cloaks back into everyday life. 


  1. Oh my goodness, this is amazing. I've never thought about this, but seriously, cloaks sound so much easier than jackets and coats! Why don't more people wear them?? I think I'd feel rather majestic in one. It's amazing how some things automatically look nice, but are secretly so comfy and amazing. That's maxi dresses for me. One in particular, people often comment on how nice it is - what they don't know is that it's as comfy as wearing sweats, HAHA! Think I might need to find a cloak now :-)

  2. My brother gave all three of my sisters who are in the USA cloaks for Christmas last year, and did a wintery photoshoot with them that looks very majestic indeed! However, as a Michigan girl...I don't think I could go coatless for winter. Cloaks don't zip up to keep the wind out and I can't imagine that they would be all that convenient for shoveling snow in...I like my puffy zipped heavy-duty winter coat...not for style, but for warmth!

  3. I wear a wool cloak in the winter, and it's so much warmer than a coat I find. The air gets trapped underneath the cloak and keeps me warm, and it has slits where I can slip my hands through to do things. All in all, cloaks beat coats for me, especially when it's really cold.

    1. That's so neat that you have experienced the wonder of cloaks!

  4. I am a male living in Australia and I purchased a beautiful cloak from the USA and I wear it often on cold days or when I am out and about taking photos for my business. The advantage of the cloak over a coat is that my camera is worth a fortune and if the weather is threatening I can put my camera under the cloak and it stays dry and not damaged by rain. Apart from that it looks great.

    1. Thank you for sharing your perspective as a photographer! That's a really good point about cloaks being helpful to keep a camera safe. It's great to hear of another person who is normalizing cloaks in our modern world :)