So, I'm writing a story that takes place in 18th-century Venice, with the composer Vivaldi as one of the characters. First draft is already done, but in the second draft I ran into a bit of a snag. Specifically, the afore-linked portrait (which may or may not actually be Vivaldi; there is another portrait that is probably much more accurate). Some friends and I have been debating what on earth that red drape thing is that he's wearing the first portrait (in the second, it looks like he /might/ be wearing something similar, although it's not in color, so we'll never know for certain).
I thought maybe it was something priests wear, because Vivaldi was an ordained Catholic priest, but quickly found out that wasn't the case. I did find a picture that shows men dressed in similar red drapey things (http://www.baroquemusic.org/bqxvivaldiosp.html) from the same time/place as Vivaldi, but I have no idea if they're priests or simply men who work at the Ospidale pictured. Vivaldi did work at an Ospidale in Venice for much of his life; I honestly can't remember off-hand how common it was for the employees to be priests, but I do know that Vivaldi wasn't the only one in existance.
So anyway, we've gone from capes to cloaks to travel cloak things to simply a decorative drape used for the purpose of a portrait. We don't know. Any suggestions?
In any case, I'd also like thoughts on the guys in red in the Ospidale picture. Who they might be, and what that is they're wearing, and if it's a part of some uniform/dress code/whatever (which I'm assuming it is, because several of them are dressed the same).