When asked to review the Iva Jean Rain Cape, I immediately recalled the remarkably successful photos of this item I had seen in the lookbook several months earlier. I'd been mesmerised by the stunning model and bicycle, by the perfect combination of my favourite colours, by the foggy, milky, electric feel of the whole thing. But a staged photoshoot is one thing; the article of clothing itself could be quite another. What we have here is essentially a silver hooded cape, to be worn on a bicycle. The skeptic in me was thinking that few of us can pull off a garment like that without looking like we are headed to a sci-fi convention.
When the Iva Jean cape arrived, I was relieved to find it quite wearable. The colour is a metalic slate gray, in no danger of being confused with an aluminum foil alien costume. The fabric is fluid and drapey, not stiff. And it is mostly noiseless (no swooshing).
The cape is made in Seattle out of a water-repellent, breathable nylon-polyester blend fabric with reflective piping. It is one size only and hits mid-thigh. I don't want to repeat manufacturer specs, so please read the complete list of features here.
Close-up of the hood, visor, rear vent and reflective piping.
The hood is roomy and can be loosened and tightened using a system of drawcords.
Stand-up collar inside the hood. The zipper extends half way down and makes the cape easy to put on and take off.
The arm openings have velcro closure, as does the large front pocket. There is also a system of drawcords and thumb loops on the bottom for keeping the arms inside the cape.
Full rear view.
In use on the bike. Speaking generally, I must admit that I am not a "bicycle cape person." When I look down and see a tent draped over my legs, it abstracts the pedaling experience for me. That said, this cape is so lightweight, that this effect is diminished. What I like about it particularly is the breathability, the flattering shape, and the ease of movement it affords off the bike. With capes I can sometimes feel as if I am getting tangled in them, but this one has such an airy feel to it, that I could hardly tell I had it on.
One thing to keep in mind is that this is a cape, not a poncho. It is intended for casual use, such as commuting. As you can see in the pictures, the forearms are somewhat exposed when I am holding the handlebars, because I am fairly leaned forward on this particular bike. The more upright your position on the bicycle, the less this will be an issue. [Edited to add: The manufacturer explains that it is possible to cover the handlebars with the cape like so. However, when I attempted this my arms felt constricted and I was not able to use it comfortably in this manner.]
Having worn the cape in the rain a couple of times, the coverage was sufficient and there were no problems with the waterproofing. As far as temperature regulation, the cape functions as a light shell and you can layer underneath it. The vents provide good ventilation on warmer days. The front can be zipped all the way up to cover the neck up to the chin on days when you wish for a scarf.
I found the system of drawcords a little complicated, but I think this is a matter of preference and others will appreciate them, as they basically allow you to reshape the garment in a variety of ways. The one point of criticism I have, is what to me looks like some subtle bunching up of fabric around the seams (you can see it in pictures like this one). It could be just an unavoidable characteristic of the fabric used, but I am detail-oriented and my eyes keep being drawn to this.
The Iva Jean Rain Cape is available for sale online, and the retail price is $240. If you would like my review sample, please leave a comment with your email address by Monday, November 28th, 11:59pm Pacific time and I will choose a recipient at random. Continental US entries only please. In my opinion this cape will fit women up to size 10 US.
Enjoy the rest of your Thansgiving weekend!