We’ll be discussing some of the best men’s cloaks and cosplay costumes in popular fantasy and sci-fi genres – such as Renaissance Faire costumes, Lord of the Rings (Lotr) and Hobbits, Dungeon and Dragons (DnD), Game of Thrones (GoT), Star Wars and more.
Men’s Cloaks for Renaissance Faire Costumes
During the Renaissance cloaks were frequently worn for travel. What we call “cloaks” were known as “mantles” in that period. Apart from helping keep travelers warm and safe from the elements (well, safer), they could provide protection from mud and dirt from the road as well as an amount of anonymity.
Knights. Let’s start with knights’ costumes. It you are dressing as a knight, consider a men’s cloak or cape to display the insignia of your order. The cloak or cape is perfect for traveling, but would not have been worn in battle or for jousting. Although I’ve heard a couple of contradictory reports that a cloak or cape can be wrapped around one’s arm as an impromptu shield. Additionally, the cloak ends can be left loose where they may catch the opponent’s sword.
The Upper Classes, Merchants, Nobleman all wore cloaks and other garments and accessories to show their wealth and status. So yes, depending on their resources, they’d have very fine cloaks and garments made of silk, linen, and finer wool. There were laws, called sumptuary laws, that dictated what commoners could and could not wear. These laws maintained differences in the attire between different classes and professions.
Renaissance Princes and Kings and other royals had no restrictions on what they wore. They might wear a cloak or cape in a range of luxurious fabrics such as silk, velvet, satin, brocade, and damask. There were fabrics and colors only royals could wear such as purple, silver and gold fabrics.
Lord of the Rings Cloaks
There are a multitude of different Lord of the Rings LOTR cloaks — some made by the Elves.
Fellowship LOTR Cloaks: The best loved cloaks are perhaps the magic protective hooded cloaks given to the Fellowship including the four Hobbits, Legolas, Grimli, Aragorn, and Boromir. Featuring a rough texture, that belied their elven origin, these cloaks were given to the Fellowship to protect them on their journey to find the One Ring and bring down Sauron. The cloaks’ texture was part of their magic, helping them serve as magical camouflage. Often showing up as green on-screen, LOTR fans know the hooded cloaks were grey in real life.
Gandalf’s Robe: Gandalf receives a protective robe (it’s a robe because it has sleeves) also made by the Elves. Gandalf sacrifices himself to battle the Balrog so the Fellowship can escape Moria. When he appears later in a white Robe of Lorien, its’ implied that he’s been to see the Elves after being brought back to life. Gandalf shrouds the signs of his promotion with a rough gray cloak that he dramatically throws aside to confront Saruman who has inhabited the mind of King Théoden.
Elven Cloaks: All the Elves like Galadriel, Lord Celebor, and Arwen wear elegant, flowing cloaks that appear made of silk, or perhaps linen or velvet.
Traveling Cloaks are visible on background characters, usually while on horseback. These are good addition to a costume for a LOTR warrior or villager in traveling garb.
Dungeon and Dragons Cloaks and other Role Playing Games
Forest Rangers appear in DnD, RPG, and other medieval fantasies. Their forest green hooded cloaks helps camouflage them in the forest and are essential for their way of life. To put it another way, rangers are forest dwellers who are in tune with nature. They typically hunt with a sword or a bow and arrow.
Druid: Druids are ancient spell casters who worship nature. Their spells and magical powers are derived from nature. Fittingly, they wear cloaks made of leaves or animal skins.
Elves: Elves are a human-like race known for their beauty, grace, magical skills, and longevity. They often wear cloaks and carry a bow and arrow. In D&D, there are numerous kinds of elves such as wood elves, dark elves, gray elves, moon elves, and many more.
Scout: The Scout archetype is something like a forest ranger. Like rangers they are skilled in wilderness survival, hunting, tracking, and adventures. A Scout often wears a cloak for camouflage and moving undetected through the forest. Typically, they hunt wild game, but sometimes they work as bounty hunters, wilderness guides, or in military reconnaissance.
Men’s Cloaks in Game of Thrones (GoT) and House of Dragons Cloaks
GoT and House of Dragons is a show with a wealth of men’s cloaks.
Cloaks in Game of Thrones serve practical purposes such as warmth, protection, and camouflage, while also reflecting the wearer’s identity, allegiance, and position within the complex social and political landscape of Westeros.
An eye-catching feature of many GoT cloaks is a large, fur collar. It’s now widely known that some of the GoT furs came from IKEA. Jon Snow’s Night’s Watch cloak features a generous, all-black fur collar, while others have collars of brown and mixed fur. And some of the collars still have the heads of an animal attached.
The most iconic GoT cloaks are those worn by the Night’s Watch. As part of their dour uniform, these heavy, fur-collared cloaks are needed to protect the soldiers from the bitter cold. Fur collars are added to a heavy twill black cloak — at least they look like a heavy, textured fabric. I imagine the cloaks were actually much lighter than they look to help the actors stand up to production lighting. These cloak appear to have stripes or pleats or perhaps they are gathered at the neckline, and do not feature hoods. Of course, the fur collar could cover a hood and any sort of neckline — so adding a removable fur wrap could transform any dark cloak into a Night’s Watch cloak (so why not use a men’s cloak with pockets?).
Stark Cloak: The Stark family of Winterfell, wear cloaks made of thick, grey wool with a direwolf sigil on the back. The Stark cloaks symbolize their loyalty to the North — and the North’s cold environment — and their role as protectors of the realm.
In general, the different houses feature capes of their house color and sigil, often with a decorative embroidered edge. Except for some ceremonial appearances, these capes mostly appear in background characters. These are true capes, not designed to cover or “cloak” the wearer, and do not include hoods.
The main characters (other than Jon Snow) most often wear an actual cloak when traveling or when trying to pass unrecognized. These cloaks are much more utilitarian than the ceremonial sigil capes, being a dark gray or black color, and featuring hoods to aid in protecting from the elements or from prying eyes. They often show mud and dirt on the bottom hem, demonstrating that these are working cloaks doing a job. Faceless Men use cloaks of this type as well, using them maintain secrecy.
After the Night’s Watch cloaks, the cloak that is featured most prominently is the ceremonial cloak used in wedding ceremonies. A heavy, intricately decorated cloak with a simple collar is used in the weddings we see in King’s Landing. After the groom places the cloak on the bride, symbolizing bringing her under his protection, the couple’s hands are lightly bound together with cloth. It’s a beautiful ceremony, even if the subtext is anything but beautiful for most of the weddings.
City Watch Cloak: One of the best-known cloaks in the series are the “Gold Cloaks” worn by the City Watch of King’s Landing. These are heavy wool and dyed gold. To my eye, the City Watch in the HBO series are wearing gold capes rather than cloaks. They hang down the soldiers’ backs, are attached beneath collar armor, and only reach down to the thigh. This makes sense, as a true cloak could be very inconvenient in a fight. Of course, for ceremonial occasions they are shown wearing more generous, true cloaks.
Kingsguard Cloak: Finally, the “White Cloaks” are worn by the seven-man Kingsguard along with a suit of silver armor and a pure white shield. The Kingsguard are sworn to defend the king and obey his orders. They also protect the royal family. These too are more accurately considered capes as depicted in the HBO series.
Men’s Cloaks in Star Wars and The Mandalorian
It may be surprising that cloaks do not feature as prominently in the Star Wars Universe as one may expect. Cloak-like hooded robes are featured much more prominently and shown being worn by Jedi and civilians alike. That said, there are some iconic cloaks on display that are integral elements of Star Wars cosplay.
A key part of Darth Vader‘s intimidating appearance is a jet-black cloak. It is a long, flowing garment that envelopes his entire body, adding to the mystery and aura of Darth Vader. The way the cloak hangs and the way it moves when Vader walks, adds to the impression of his power and menace. A Vader cosplay needs a cloak with a lot of swoop. Of course, since Vader has a hood-like helmet, his cloak does not have a hood.
The Jedi wear heavy, monk-like robes with large hoods and generous sleeves. This became the Jedi uniform when they developed the look for the Jedi for Episode I, and decided that Obi-Wan Kenobi’s desert attire from Episode IV would serve as the model. This generous, flowing design include adds to the romance of the characters and order, and provides space to carry things like underwater breathing apparatus, comlinks, blood samplers and more. Jedi robes generally do not have clasps so they can be flung off in an instant when the lightsabers come out.
When not trying to pass as a General (looking at you Dooku), the Sith wear black versions of Jedi Robes. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. We have less information on what they have in their pockets.
The camouflage “cloaks” introduced by the Rebel strike team that is sent down to Endor in Return of the Jedi are really more of a poncho than a cloak, as they don’t open in the front. These are lightweight and are intended to provide camouflage and some protection from the wet without weighing the rebels down.
Luke Skywalker wears a true cloak in the Return of the Jedi/Mandalorian period. A heavy black men’s cloak with a generous hood (a Jedi Robe without sleeves) makes Luke a mysterious figure as he infiltrates Jabba’s palace. Then in The Mandalorian Season 2, Luke wears a similar cloak when he makes a triumphant appearance dispatching Dark Troopers to rescue our heroes.
Meanwhile, Lando Calrissian is famous for his cape collection. Featured in Solo more than in his other appearances, Lando proves that any person with style needs capes.
Mandalorian armor often includes a cape or cloak — sometimes in tatters as the Mandalorians are on the run after the destruction of their home world. Like Darth Vader, Mandalorians wear helmets so the standard capes do not feature hoods. Like others, however, a Mandalorian will wear a cloak with a hood when attempting to hide their identity.
Infiltration Cloak: In Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, the clone troopers of the Republic Commandos use specialized cloaks with built-in stealth capabilities. These cloaks can render the wearer almost invisible to thermal and motion sensors, enabling them to carry out covert operations effectively. The scientific wizards at Raven Fox Capes and Cloaks are working on an invisibility cloak, but little progress is apparent (while the cloaks remain quite apparent).
Regardless of specific screen appearances, cloaks and capes fit into just about any fantasy cosplay — whether it’s sword and sorcery or science fantasy. Adding a cloak to even iconic non-cloak costumes can add to the romance and drama of the costume. Whether you’re going for a mysterious look, a romantic look, swashbuckling, or downtrodden a cloak can help up your costume game. Luckily, I know just the place to get one!
What other men’s cloaks from sci-fi or fantasy are you familiar with?
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