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Cloak facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Fashion Plate Manteau 1823
Evening cloak or manteau, from Costume Parisien, 1823

A cloak is a type of loose garment that is worn over indoor clothing and serves the same purpose as an overcoat; it protects the wearer from the cold, rain or wind for example, or it may form part of a fashionable outfit or uniform. Cloaks have been used by myriad historic societies; many climates favor wearing a full-body garment which is easily removed and does not constrain the wearer with sleeves. Over time cloak designs have been changed to match fashion and available textiles.

Cloaks generally fasten at the neck or over the shoulder, vary in length, from hip all the way down to the ankle, mid-calf being the normal length. They may have an attached hood and may cover and fasten down the front, in which case they have holes or slits for the hands to pass through. However, cloaks are almost always sleeveless.

In full evening dress in the Western countries, ladies and gentlemen frequently use the cloak as a fashion statement, or to protect the fine fabrics of evening wear from the elements, especially where a coat would crush or hide the garment. Opera cloaks are made of quality materials such as wool or cashmere, velvet and satin.

Ladies may wear a long (over the shoulders or to ankles) cloak usually called a cape, or a full-length cloak. Gentlemen wear an ankle-length or full-length cloak. Formal cloaks often have expensive, colored linings and trimmings such as silk, satin, velvet and fur.

Cloak
Cloak, 1580-1600 Victoria and Albert Museum no. 793-1901
Couple cloak Louvre G99
Couple hiding under the same cloak, fragment of an Ancient Greek red-figure cup, ca. 525 BC–500 BC, found in Athens. Louvre Museum, Paris.

Cloaks are a staple garment in the fantasy genre due to the popularity of medieval settings. They are also usually associated with witches, wizards, and vampires.

The best-known stage version of Dracula, which first made actor Bela Lugosi prominent, featured him wearing it so that his exit through a trap door concealed on the stage could seem sudden. When Lugosi reprised his role as Dracula for the 1931 Universal Studios motion picture version of the play, he retained the cloak as part of his outfit, which made such a strong impression that cloaks came to be equated with Count Dracula in nearly all non-historical media depictions of him.

Figuratively, a cloak may be anything that disguises or conceals something. In many science fiction worlds such as Star Trek, there are cloaking devices, which provide a way to avoid detection or to make objects appear invisible.

Because they keep a person hidden and conceal a weapon, the phrase cloak and dagger has come to refer to espionage and secretive crimes. "Cloak and dagger" stories are thus mystery, detective, and crime stories of this.

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