The Duchess of Cambridge is a fan, and Anna Wintour chose one for the Met Gala. This summer… Arm yourself with a statement cape

  • Gail Rolfe says that a cape adds an element of old-style Hollywood glamour
  • UK-based fashion editor explains how to look dramatic at weddings and parties
  • She says the cape dress sleek simplicity means there’s little need for accessories

Designers have always known that adding a billowing cape to a gown gives it an element of old-style Hollywood glamour and elegance.

Last week, American Vogue editor Anna Wintour stalked the red carpet at the Met Gala in a feather-trimmed, embellished cape that perfectly matched her full-length dress. It was the ultimate triumph of a look that has been slowly gaining pace — from Lady Gaga in Givenchy Haute Couture at the premiere of A Star Is Born, to Emily Blunt in silver and white Miu Miu at last year’s Met Gala, and the Duchess of Cambridge shimmering in a stunning gold Jenny Packham cape dress last September at the premiere of Bond film No Time To Die. 

Dress, £130, Phase Eight, shoes, £95, Dune; earrings, £225, Laurence Coste; necklace, £35, Orelia

And what good news this look is for any woman wanting to appear both dramatic and demure at a summer party, wedding or any other elegant occasion. 

The new High Street cape dresses — popping up everywhere this season — are ageless and timeless. Their sleek simplicity means there’s little need for accessories, as the dress says it all. 

Dress, £75, River Island; shoes, £225, Russell & Bromley; bag, £169, LK Bennett; earrings, £225 and ring, £265, Laurence Coste

They elongate the silhouette and can be either formal or informal. 

Thankfully, if you are worried about ‘bingo wings’, they will hide your upper arms without being smotheringly hot in the warmer weather. And yet there’s no need to fear that they are an ‘old lady’ style — my 23-year-old daughter has a cape dress she adores. 

Dress: £219.99, Ralph Lauren at Zalando; shoes, £245, Russell & Bromley; earrings, £245, and ring, £275, Laurence Coste

Surprisingly, there are now mini-dress capes as well as knee-length styles and floor-sweeping gowns. 

Dress, £227.50, Karen Millen; shoes, £279, LK Bennett; bag, £395, Aspinal; earrings, £245 Laurence Coste; ring, £18, Butler and Wilson

Dress, £199.99, Ralph Lauren at Zalando; shoes, £95, Dune; bracelet, £38, Butler & Wilson; earrings, £195, Laurence Coste

Which would I wear at 63? My favourite would be the vivid scarlet maxi dress by Karen Millen. It is regal, but not overly formal; the billowing cape adds a sense of femininity and the fluid swirling movement provides a distraction if your arms are not up to Michelle Obama standards. It could be worn with gold sandals or heels and a simple necklace to fill the V-neck. 

Dress, £400, Sika’a at Wolf & Badger; shoes, £229, LK Bennett; earrings, £180, Deborah Blyth

For a seriously grand daytime outfit to wear at a wedding or at Ascot, I’d choose the dramatically different Vinyago navyand-silver structured dress by Sika’a. And for a complete change of pace, I adore the ruffled yellow maxi from River Island.

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