As the temperature takes a more chilling and rather surprising toll on all of us, this is the time that we can appreciate the fashion world’s ability to predict its own version of a “forecast.” Much like you, I too have been scrambling to find my winter’s coat within the past few days, but unfortunately, last year’s leather jacket will not suffice. With much difficulty, I put my jacket away, and began to search for the must-have coat this fall. After lengthy research on my part, I found the perfect, up-to-trend coat: the cape.

I know what you’re thinking- a cape? But believe me, you too will be persuaded.

The cape coat, close sister of the “poncho” family, is an ideal solution for those who are looking for something versatile, unique, and functional. The up-to-date, stylish alternative to a coat has been trickling down from the runways of great labels, such as Lanvin and Chanel, and into the more affordable stores and boutiques, such as Nordstrom and J. Crew. You can dress it up and wear it on a Saturday night, or dress it down while you’re out and about the city.

The Sleek Cape

The Lanvin cape is so very sleek and chic. For a more moderate price, you can find an identical cape from Calvin Klein for about $160. This unique piece has a much more architectural silhouette that not only modernizes your wardrobe, but is also great to wear to the office. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly cape, try Tinley Road’s ladylike wool cape located on for only $89.

The Neutral Cape

The Lanvin fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection showcased a multitude of these fashionable capes, but also allowed for a variety of neutral colors which blend in superbly with anyone’s wardrobe. If you’re looking to steal Lanvin’s camel cape at a much more moderate price, look for Vince Camuto’s button neck cape located at Nordstrom for only $195. For an even more budget-friendly camel cape, you can find a similar style at JcPenney (Liz Claiborne’s collection) for only $75.

The Patterned Cape

Patterns are another great trend for fall 2011, and if you’re looking for a bold print cape, you know exactly who to go to- Thom Browne. To snatch one up at a more moderate price, the Tahari plaid cape is only $178. For a more budget-friendly cape, Liz Claiborne’s sweater cape still has that pop of pattern that Thom Browne introduced, but only $38. What a find!

The Elegant Cape

If you’re looking for a more elegant cape that you can place over that fabulous new dress you’ve been dying to wear, look to Jason Wu’s fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection. Capture the same silhouette, sparkle, and femininity from his line in this DKNY sequin cape blouse. It is a bit of a splurge at $345, but that glamorous cape is traffic-stopping, indeed.

Although many people find the cape to be very antiquated, I believe that the modern touch to this coat in the fall 2011 collections will persuade many to believe otherwise. Dress it up, dress it down, add some sparkle, or a little plaid and you’re set!

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