By Damali and Nii B. Andrews.
If you dislike standing apart from the crowd, then you will almost certainly be hesitant about wearing a cape.
But the cape has a long and colorful history; its origins lost in the mists of time.
It has provided protection against the elements and been a signifier of rank and status.
Capes were worn in prehistory; by Roman soldiers, knights, nobility, clergy and also by quite a few less than savory characters.
Indigenous dress in several parts of Africa include the cape – the Maghreb, Egypt, Ethiopia, west and southern Africa.
Today, it is possible to commission a handmade bespoke cape from skilled African craftsmen especially in the Maghreb.
In this region – where the cape is sometimes called a boonous; it is made from wool or a wool cotton blend, accented with exquisite embroidery with an attached hood that sports a distinctive tassel.
Quite often a well executed bespoke cape when worn with formal or semi formal attire adds panache to an outfit.
It also provides excellent protection in inclement weather.
Of course the danger with poor execution is to end up looking like a forlorn super hero; badly turned out Halloween costume or a menacing street hood.
Then it is much better not to have worn one at all.
Pure sartorial elegance is the aesthetic bonus reward when a cape is well coordinated with an outfit for both genders.
But velvet and silk should probably be left to the ladies except for purely ceremonial regalia for gentlemen.
The balance between the length, width and sweep is crucial especially with respect to the wearer’s physique.
That is why bespoke becomes the unassailable standard.
Here it is worth noting that a poncho does share some similarities but it is a different garment altogether….it does not bring out your inner Batman; it does not flow; it lacks the romance – the drama, of a cape.
So, let us not neglect the cape as part of our options for the easy eclectic, our African forte.