Call them futuristic, superhero-ish or out of a vampire movie, capes have an association with a whole lot of fictional figures. Well, fictional if you consider Batman, Superman and Edward Cullen to be limited to the silver screen only. Rebels have translated this comic book and fairytale fashion into the curated wardrobe, giving capes a large appeal.

Capes and cloaks have existed, in one variety or another, through much of our known human history. From early Medieval mantles, to 16th century decorative shawls; from military officers capes and 1940s fur stoles, to the fringed ponchos of the 1960s. But what used to be a British army uniform has now become a must-have item for the fall 2012 fashion season. The capes for this season are offering more variety and styling options, as opposed to their popularity back in 2010. The only issue women have with this super-sized silhouette is to risk looking like a pitched tent in the backyard. And because you asked, we have the solution for you that’ll make capes seem as high-end and non-fiction as they can be.

Despite the lack of proportion seen in the fall / winter 2012 runway, the styling of capes seem to have manifested detailing and tailoring. Continue reading after the break on how Fashionising.com sub-sections this superhero uniform into a statement piece for you.

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Tailored capes

Capes are a form of outerwear, almost like a coat, with no sleeves but often with a slit for the arms instead.

A tailored cape is made to custom-fit on each individual’s body. They make the shoulders look lean and give a sleek, groomed finish to the ensemble. The capes seen at Marni and Temperley London’s fall / winter 2012 runway show gave a tailored and disciplined structure to the body. They hugged around the waist, looking almost like a trench coat, but the no-arms and a loose tail end back gave it the authentic cape visual appeal.

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Tailored cape at Temperley London F/W ’12

The shirt-style cape seen in Yves Saint Laurent and Vera Wang’s fall 2012 collection really focussed on what was worn underneath the cape, and this is of primary importance when you’re styling the look for yourself. YSL featured a belted, hourglass silhouette under the tailored capes in wool, leather and fur. Salvatore Ferragamo also worked the bold stitching of the cape with an underlay of a feminine silhouette for their fall / winter 2012 show.

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Cape at Yves Saint Laurent F/W ’12

These styles of capes work greatly for women who don’t want to hide their curves and natural body shapes under layers or wool and fur. When choosing a tailored cape, make sure you have your silhouette at show and look for details that suit your body type, be it with buttons, belts or zips.

Belted capes

This variety takes the tailored cape to the next level by strapping a belt over the cape. Phillip Lim went for an androgynous style pantsuit cape and pulled the ensemble together with a belt over the waist. The belted capes at Viktor and Rolf also helped in achieving a defined silhouette on each model.

The trick for these capes is that you can wear them as a coat, or a blanketed cape (read below) sans the belt. But if you wish to add definition and precision to the look, add a medium to large belt over the cape.

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Belted capes at Viktor & Rolf and Phillip Lim, F/W ’12

Cloaks

While the cape trend of a few years ago was careful to steer clear of feeling too much like something from a vampire movie or superhero comic, the cape has become accepted enough as a form of outerwear that the boundary towards fantasy is being pushed a little further.

Cloaks are capes that are generally longer than usual, typically of floor-grazing length, often with something of a Gothic sentiment.

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Cloak at Gucci F/W ’12

On the fall runway, leading fashion houses like Elie Saab, Gucci and Valentino embraced the Goth adaptation of the trend. However, John Galliano took references from Red Riding Hood’s cape and paraded a very seductive and sexy tangerine hued cape down the runway.

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Hooded cloak at Galliano, F/W ’12

If you’re into fairytales and inspirational comic characters, then this style of cape needs to be in your wardrobe. Just be mindful of what you wear underneath the long cloaks; show your limbs off in leather pants and knee-high boots.

Blanket capes

Hands up if you’re guilty of putting a shawl over your shoulders and heading out down the street in the chilly season? Some of you might have converted a plaid shawl or blanket into a legitimate outerwear garment. And this season, you have permission from Donna Karan, Mulberry and Rachel Zoe to do so, as long as you style it appropriately.

The blanketed cape is the most comfortable way to wear a cape, especially the way Rag & Bone and Mulberry have styled it. As mentioned earlier, this is an advanced version of the belted cape, where you convert a shawl or wrap into a cape by cinching the waist with a belt or teaming it with figure-hugging bottoms.

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Blanket cape at Rag & Bone F/W ’12

As seen on the Donna Karan runway, you can even belt half the cape, and leave the other half loose on your shoulder. This gives the look an effortless aura. It also works perfectly with plaids of the season as a chic, modern interpretation of traditional Highland dressing.

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Plaid blanket cape at Donna Karan F/W ’12

Capelet

If an idea of a full-length or half-length cape scares you, then go for a capelet that merely covers the shoulders, like the ones seen at Prabal Gurung and Marc Jacobs’ fall / winter 2012 shows. These appear to be more sophisticated and elegant, due to the minimal use of floaty fabrics below the chest area. And despite the absence of the arm slits and belts, these short capes are classified as a type of cape for the modern woman.

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Capelet at Prabal Gurung F/W ’12

Capes in 2010

Women's Capes

The styles that we were seeing in the 2010 revival:

Capes / Capelets

A cape in the broader sense is pretty much any form of outerwear that opens at the front, and has no sleeves – usually with slits for the arms instead. Capes can be cut in a full circle, or on the straight. Capelets are any type of short cape that covers the shoulders.

Cloaks

A cloak is similar to a cape only generally longer – typically mid-calf but often as long as ankle-length. Cloaks tend to be completely sleeveless; rather wraping around as an outerwear garment.

Shawls, Stoles & Wraps

These are usually loosely-worn or wrapped around the shoulders, usually for evening wear. Traditionally they’ve been made from luxurious fabrics like silk, brocade, or fur.

Stoles and wraps on the 2010 runways

Ponchos

A poncho is usually a closed square of fabric with a hole for one’s head to go through.

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