Friday, February 25, 2011

Short Cloaks

Sue Felshin has written a comprehensive article on short cloaks as worn in the 18th century.  Documentation for colors, hoods, capes (collars) and styles are outlined in great detail.  While actual artifacts of woolen short cloaks have not survived,  there are a variety of period prints and art from which Sue draws many of her conclusions.  Follow this link to find the full text of her article on the Hive Website.  Here is a short excerpt-

Short cloaks vs. long cloaks

There really is nothing like a long cloak for keeping warm and dry when standing or walking in cold rain or snow. Long cloaks are cut generously so that you can overlap and hold them closed in front of you to keep the warmth in and the cold and wet out. But you can’t do anything in a cloak. If you turn or bend, the cold starts to slip in, and if you need to use your hands, you lose all warmth as you open your cloak. The hood keeps you from seeing in any direction except in front of you, and when you turn your head to try to see, you find yourself looking at the inside of the hood. And cloaks are heavy, and if it warms up a little you can’t really cool off by throwing the sides back; you’ll choke.

 Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library Digital Collection
The knowing one taken in (detail), c. 1760. 760.0.7
An utterly typical short cloak in every way: length, width, collar, strings, color, and apparent material (fulled wool).

 A typical short cloak was less full than a cloak: it was only lightly pleated or gathered. This was not only economical but practical as a narrower short cloak swings around and gets in the way less. Short cloaks varied greatly in length, but most were about wrist length. When you wear a wrist-length short cloak, you can use your arms without opening the short cloak. When you are not using your arms, you can fold your arms and tuck in your hands so that you can keep your hands and arms warm even without mitts. Or you can cool off by letting the short cloak hang open or by throwing the sides of the short cloak behind you

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sue, Thanks for this great article! I stumbled across it by accident just now, and it's just what I needed. Can you believe I was just discussing a short cloak with Hallie while she was down at CW for the symposium this weekend?

    I can't wait until your lace article is finished, too. I think you have an incredibly funny sense of humor.