Capes, cloaks are chic coverups

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Katsumi Kasahara/AP Photo

A model in a knit jacket and matching cape walks the runway for Somarta’s fall/winter collection during Japan’s Fashion Week in Tokyo.

Recently, the hugely popular “cape” has had a major resurgence, popping all the way up to the top shelf in the realm of fashion, its high spot catching everyone off-guard.

The cape’s long tradition as military outerwear and its fringed counterpart, the universal hippie shawl, are replaced. The modern, sophisticated styles of this fall emphasize chic luxury above all else.

Cape basics

The simplicity of the cape, inherent by its pattern of design, is one of the built-in features that elevate it into brilliance. A cape may be a traditional, circular shape or any other variation — from straight edges to an asymmetrical design. Another important detail of the cape is the armholes — more or less slits in the both sides of the cape. Also, if you are a fan of attached hoods on outerwear, look for a cape with this extra element.

Varieties: As we know, variation in fashion is never-ending. Choosing a cape that suits your individual needs or tastes is essential.

The cloak:

A cloak is a longer, warmer version that oftentimes provides a dressier alternative to the traditional, shorter, more casual length of a cape. The length of a cape can vary, but typically it hits past the knee. If you are more petite, cloaks can be tricky. Pick one with a more subtle pattern — anything too busy will overwhelm your smaller frame. Also, cloaks may or may not feature arm slits, so no slouching is allowed! You need strong shoulders to carry off this look.

Look for a cocoon-style cape for an interesting shape that still retains elegance.

More flowing, shape-shifting capes are a very romantic alternative. Unique pocket placement and extra fabric folds add extra dimension, catch light and catch the attention of onlookers. A cloak made from a slightly shiny fabric is a fun way to achieve just the right hint of shimmer.

The capelet:

For another option that provides extra elegance, this time without the extra bulk of fabric, try a capelet. A capelet offers less warmth, and it is typically used for shoulder coverage. Capelets tend to be made from fur or faux fur or other materials that are generally more expensive or refined.

Don't forget:

Don't settle for a boring, dapper cape just because it is the first one you come across. Keep in mind other fun details that take this look to the next level. For example, Erin Fetherston made a fabulous ruffle-neck cape that is easily paired with floor-length dresses or dressy evening attire. Capes with interesting pleats, buttons and patterned trims modernize this look.

Check these out this seas’'s hottest capes by the following designers (all are featured at style.com):

• Chanel: over-the-top frills

• Erin Fetherston: ruffle neck

• Marc Jacobs: fabulous poncho

• DKNY: fur trim

• Valentino: fur trim

• Kenzo: fur stole

• Ralph Lauren: stole for eveningwear.

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