A mantle (from mantellum, the Latin term for a cloak) is a type of loose garment usually worn over indoor clothing to serve the same purpose as an overcoat. Technically, the term describes a long, loose cape-like cloak worn from the 12th to the 16th century and during the American Civil War by both sexes, although by the 19th century, it was used to describe any loose-fitting, shaped woman's outer garment similar to a cape. For example, the dolman, a 19th century cape-like garment with partial sleeves is often described as a mantle.
A variation on the mantle is the mantelet (also spelled mantelot and mantlet), typically describing a short version of the mantle. The term appears as early as 1386, in "The Knight's Tale" by Geoffrey Chaucer. In the 18th century, a mantelet was a woman's short cloak, and in the early 19th century, it was an ornamental scarf that crossed over the chest and tied behind, usually made of fur or lace. By the end of the 19th century, a mantelet was a woman's shoulder cape with elongated ends in front, sometimes held in position by a belt at the waist.
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