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So, in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (i.e. The Irregular at Magic High School), the girls' school uniform incorporates this strange translucent cape-like feature. See, for example:

girl wearing strange translucent cape-like feature

different girl wearing strange translucent cape-like feature

That translucent cape-thing is very unusual as far as school uniforms go - I've never seen anything like it. Does it serve any particular purpose in the context of the show (like, it makes you better at magic or something), or is it just ornamental?

  • it looks like that it's supposed to be a jacket like the boys uniform however made translucent as to show off the girl's body shape cause just from your images it seems the girls have smaller bodies in comparison to the upper part of the uniform (ie. the back/sides of the uniform stick out more from the body) – Memor-X Apr 22 '14 at 6:28
  • I don't think it serves any actual purpose. I guess its just suppose to be just for looks rather than purpose. – Izumi-reiLuLu Apr 22 '14 at 6:38
  • I feel pretty dumb right now... At first, I thought that this cape-like thing was for telling the girls' years. Like, Mizuki is in the same class as Tatsuya and her cape is green. One time, Mari says to Tatsuya that she's in the same year as him, and her cape is also green. I'm probably wrong but at least almost everything is clearer now! ^^ – user14494 May 16 '15 at 15:16
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According to this tweet:

It's an a camisole-style lace garment can be worn under the jacket, it's as an optional accessory

Seifuku?

Miyuki!

Therefore I don't believe there's functional purpose to it.

  • Ooh, I see. These pictures capture the whole "lace" aspect a lot better than the anime does (probably something to do with the shading). In the anime, those things just look weird and plasticky. – senshin Apr 23 '14 at 22:06
  • It's for sure optional - I'm certain some of them aren't wearing them. – Clockwork-Muse Apr 24 '14 at 13:29
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So far from the light novels that have been published, nothing has been explained nor been mentioned about that piece of translucent garment. The first time I saw that, I was also asking like you are, because as far as I remembered, nothing about it was mentioned in the LN. I confirmed with others who have read the LN, and they said the same thing. So, for now IMHO, it's just like you said: "ornamental". Correct me if I'm wrong.

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Since there seems to be no word of god, let's go:

The gown has to do with the type of magic the girl uses.

So we have

  • The blue snowflakes for elemental magic
  • the green faeries (dots, whatever) for spirit, body and mind magic
  • The orange flowers for earth and physical, physics magic

The girls:

  • Shiba Myiuki - elemental magic. Uses snowflakes.
  • Saegusa Mayumi - movement, projectiles and matter summoning. Orange flowers.
  • Ichihara Suzune - body and mind manipulation. Green fairy.
  • Mitsui Honoka - Light manipulation. Orange
  • Watanabe Mari - mind manipulation via aromas. Green
  • Shibata Mizuki - spirit and magic sight. Green.

The list is not exaustive. Feel free to add more examples.

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I, too, thought the capes would be explained further, as it does seem to correspond to the owner's magic. I wish they had been, since the audience would be able to then identify approximate magic types on sight, or be intrigued by a new, previously unseen color. Prime storytelling opportunities have been missed there.

There is only one girl I've seen who doesn't wear it, and that's Erika. There are multiple reasons to explain why she would not wear it.

1) She's the only Course 2 (Weed) girl character we've seen, so it may be a Course 1 (Bloom) exclusive uniform piece.

2) If it's truly based on magic, which does seem to play a part in the colors, Erika's style is sword and weapon-based where the other girls use a different type of non-weapon magic.

3) If it's completely optional, Erika has exactly the kind of personality that would forego the cape by choice.

As far as the texture goes, it's always looked like a sheer fabric attachment to me rather than lace. If it's supposed to be lace, they didn't do very well in animating it. Looks closer to tulle, maybe? Or, actually, my vote is for chiffon. Chiffon flows the same way as they portray in the anime.

  • Point 1 isn't right - we see Mizuki wearing one, and she's a course 2 student. I wouldn't have thought it would be completely dependant on combat type either - Mibu Sayaka chooses to wear said garment while possessing a similar fighting style to Erika. I think it's mostly dependent on choice, as ʞɹɐzǝɹ♦'s answer claims. – Matt May 11 '15 at 21:27

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