This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Mantle. A loose, sleeveless garment, worn as an outer covering, falling in straight lines from the shoulders; a simple kind of a cloak. The mantle, from its general simplicity of form, may be believed to be perhaps one of the earliest of garments. From a hairy skin huddled on to keep the wearer warm, an advance would be made to a cloak of skins, and from this to the mantle. These simple coverings were for centuries mere pieces of cloth of suitable size and shape, the upper corners of which were brought together and fastened at the neck or over one shoulder, with the loose ends flapping in front. Those worn during the middle ages and later were large and loose, capable of being drawn across the breast by a lace or chain. Long flowing mantles form a part of the distinguishing costume or insignia of British nobles and knights. Under various names and of different shapes, the mantle was common to the Greeks and Romans at all times, the toga of the latter being nothing but a loose mantle. [See Cloak]