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Virginia Military Institute First Class Cape


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Fratlanta

I recently purchased that old cape but I am not sure what it is exactly.

I have been told it is a cape for a  WestPoint cadet but nowhere can i find evidence of cape being worn at  West Point

 

The cape about 4 feet long and it is missing front buttons 

it is made of heavy wool and is Named inside

 

The blue/grey color matches West Point uniform’s  color but I would appreciate if somebody could confirm or invalidate that hypothesis

 

thx

 


 

 

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CandaceStonestreet86

It's a nurse's cape

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Fratlanta
6 hours ago, CandaceStonestreet86 said:

It's a nurse's cape

That’s what i thought at first but I have never seen a nurse cape with buttons from top to bottom. They usually only have a couple of buttons at the top.
Also, a 4 feet cape seems very long for a woman.

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jim46

It reminds me of a cape from the Virginia Military Academy.

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dmar836

I think the nurses capes were a dark blue, no?

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hink441

I think VMI is the only one with a red lining. 
 

I think it is related to the losses that VMI lost at the Battle of New Market. 
 


 

 

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I believe you are correct - it looks like a VMI cape without the buttons.  FYI, the picture above shows overcoats with an integral elbow-length cape, a completely different uniform item.  Everyone is issued an overcoat but the knee-length standalone cape is optional.  I believe it is only authorized for first classmen (seniors) if I'm remembering correctly.  When I was there nobody owned one but there were a few that were Institute property and used by the Officer of the Day and Officer of the Guard.

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Fratlanta
42 minutes ago, VMI88 said:

I believe you are correct - it looks like a VMI cape without the buttons.  FYI, the picture above shows overcoats with an integral elbow-length cape, a completely different uniform item.  Everyone is issued an overcoat but the knee-length standalone cape is optional.  I believe it is only authorized for first classmen (seniors) if I'm remembering correctly.  When I was there nobody owned one but there were a few that were Institute property and used by the Officer of the Day and Officer of the Guard.

Great- I think we solved the mystery.

Out of curiosity, for what occasion would these cape be worn?

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1 hour ago, Fratlanta said:

Great- I think we solved the mystery.

Out of curiosity, for what occasion would these cape be worn?

 

They were worn for formal occasions, primarily "hops" (dances).  Supposedly they were frequently put to use sneaking dates into Barracks!  They seem to have been used a lot through about the 1930s and I own one that belonged to a 1950s graduate.  These were very expensive purchases and often passed along through multiple owners.  Today I don't think anyone personally owns one though they are still authorized, or at least they were in the 80s.  I have a couple of antique ones now - I wish I had owned one then!

 

The Officer of the Day and Officer of the Guard still wear capes during their tours of duty as part of their distinguishing uniform.  These capes are provided by the Institute and passed off each day to the new guard team.

 

By the way, it probably wouldn't be too hard to find replacement buttons.  It takes the smaller size, I think 1/2" (the same buttons found on the overcoat cape).  I'd keep checking eBay - you should be able to find them for a dollar or two apiece.  You could also check the VMI Museum shop - they sell buttons off old uniforms as souvenirs and may have some.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Ranger-1972

I had one in 1972.

 

Correct that this was a First Class cape (e.g., could only be worn by First Classmen -- seniors).  You could wear it anywhere other than in a formation (e.g., parade, guard mount ceremony).  The exception was that the Officer of the Day and Officer of the Guard wore them. Other than that, they were great to wear to go into town.  Trying to put on the overcoat over the gray wool high-collar blouse was rough going.  Putting on the cape, by comparison, was a breeze.

 

They were expensive, but several of my classmates had one of their own.

 

You may be able to purchase replacement buttons from VMI.

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  • 2 weeks later...
stratasfan

Moved this to the Military Education & Training board for further discussion! Very interesting item . . . I would definitely try replacing the buttons! 

 

For those of you who sore them . . . were they hot to wear?

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On 5/24/2021 at 11:54 PM, Ranger-1972 said:

I had one in 1972.

 

Correct that this was a First Class cape (e.g., could only be worn by First Classmen -- seniors).  You could wear it anywhere other than in a formation (e.g., parade, guard mount ceremony).  The exception was that the Officer of the Day and Officer of the Guard wore them. Other than that, they were great to wear to go into town.  Trying to put on the overcoat over the gray wool high-collar blouse was rough going.  Putting on the cape, by comparison, was a breeze.

 

They were expensive, but several of my classmates had one of their own.

 

You may be able to purchase replacement buttons from VMI.

 

Interesting that these were still being worn in 1972.  By my time (1984 - 1988) they were only being worn by the OD and OG, though I remember seeing them in the Blue Book (regulations).  It's a shame because I think they're very stylish!

 

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Ranger-1972

Like the overcoat, the cape was only worn in the winter time (and it gets cold in the Shenandoah Valley in winter).

 

Several of my classmates bought one ... some left them to underclassmen; others kept them.

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Fratlanta
On 6/6/2021 at 9:02 PM, stratasfan said:

Moved this to the Military Education & Training board for further discussion! Very interesting item . . . I would definitely try replacing the buttons! 

 

For those of you who sore them . . . were they hot to wear?

I wiuld love to but Can’t find them anywhere.

 

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