In modern times a cape refers to a long article of clothing that is fastened around the wearer's neck and covers the back of the wearer to various lengths; though throughout history capes have referred to just about any sleeveless garment that attaches around the neck and is worn as outerwear, the most common example being the poncho.
Capes can be worn both for reasons of fashion as well as for reasons of practicality. Originally capes started out as a piece of protective clothing designs to shield the wearer from cold weather and rain. For this reason most protective capes are combined with a hood to protect the wearer's head as well as their body.
In fashion it is not uncommon for capes to have elaborate embroidery patterns stitched into them or decorative edges along the hem of the cape. While it was once common for protective capes to have the same level of adornment in medieval times, today protective capes are generally utilitarian and not designed to look particularly fashionable.
Although the term cape and cloak are oftentimes interchanged there is a difference (though common vernacular has muddied the term to the point that the difference is almost meaningless). A cape generally terminates anywhere from the shoulder to just below the knee; while a cloak extends all the way down to the floor. Today capes are commonly associated with super heroes.