Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cold Weather Vintage: Coats

Fairly fundamental to staying warm in winter is a good coat (or several).



The design of the classic overcoat has really changed very little in the last century or so - good news for vintage wearers since original vintage overcoats are generally rare and pricey. My own overcoat - from Marks & Spencer two years ago - is almost identical in design to style E from 1942.

There are two basic silhouettes: fitted and boxy.

Oversize lapels were popular through the 30s into the early 40s (above, 1938)

Fitted reefer and boxy swagger coats, 1942

Wide sleeves in 1952

Princess coat and swagger both gain volume by the mid-fifties (above, 1956)

Jackets & Topper Coats

Tailored jackets in wool plaid, tweed or flannel or short boxy swing jackets for 1930s-40s smart-casual:


Surpsingly modern-looking styles in the 1950s: Duffel coat, mid-length belted jacket, zip-front jacket and the classic plaid 49er.



After spending last winter scouring ebay and etsy (without success) for an affordable wool cape, one practically fell in my lap last week. Hot pink, probably 1960s, all wool, and £5 (due to scattered moth nibbles): win.

Simplicity 3122 sewing pattern, early 50s

Originator 299 sewing pattern, early 50s

Vogue Couturier Design 1120 sewing pattern, circa early 60s

Fur & Faux Fur

Controversial, yes, but there's no denying it is warm. I should point out that I'm 100% anti new fur (not just because I object to animals being farmed and killed - I do eat meat - but mostly because of their welfare while they're alive). But I don't have a problem with vintage fur: I'd rather it be worn than be tossed out and end up on the scrap heap and in landfill - to me that shows less respect for the animal than wearing it and appreciating it, as well as being ecologically unsound (if you consider the environmental cost of manufacturing new faux fur to replace the vintage fur you just threw out). Of course, vintage faux fur is a cosy alternative to real, with none of the controversy.



  1. I just bought me a royal blue coat from the late forties. The brand is Mary Lane. I attached a fox fur collar to it.

    I completely agree with you on the fur part of your post. I, too, am against wearing new fur. Animals nowadays have to die for it. I loathe it. But wearing vintage fur is something completely different for me. I agree with what you said: I rather wear it, appreciate it and give it a 'home', instead of let it dangle around a mannequin as a guilty secret of the past on a fleamarket.

    However, great post! Thanks!

  2. I've been looking for a nice cape too. I have a knit one but nothing beats wool for warmth. I may have to find a pattern and sew one or something! Agreed about the fur topic too. I have a few vintage coats that were given to me with fur collars and they are so cozy. 2 weeks ago, I finally made my first vintage fur purchase- a mink stole from a flea market. Love it!!!

  3. *Sigh* I LOVE coats. This post totally made my day :)

  4. Lovely post :)
    Like Lindsay- I agree with you on the fur issue- one also has to remember that when those old furs were made, that times were different- and so were the sensibilities!
    As to the capes- I have been a fan of capes since I was a child. I really would love to have a full cloak, but a cape works too ;) I have to make my daughter one for halloween, and it has been nice seeing the inspiration out there!

  5. I love coats too! And no matter how stuffed my closet is, I never seem to have the right one. I could really stand a nice wool overcoat. I have one vintage one but it's plaid, so not always appropriate. I should really search for a nice solid color one, you're inspiring me to do so! Fortunately as nasty as winter can get here, there's only about 2 months where even wool can't cut it and I have to break out the ultra-non-vintage puffy down hooded parka. ;)

  6. These are so deliciously swoon-worthy! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love the blue princess one. I have a positive addiction to coats and jackets, fitted only though, anything else doesn't suit me.

  8. I'm waiting for it to get cold enough to wear my "new" winter coat. By the way, I've passed a blog award on to you!! X

  9. I have a faux astrakan fur coat from my grandmother - 1940's with nipped waist, wide sleeves and padded shoulders. It is FABULOUS. Pity it doesn't fit me!

  10. "I don't have a problem with vintage fur: I'd rather it be worn than be tossed out and end up on the scrap heap and in landfill - to me that shows less respect for the animal than wearing it and appreciating it, as well as being ecologically unsound"

    I'm a Vegan, but I completly agree with you 100% on this.

  11. I NEED those red shoes in the top picture. Love all the coats, they currently have a really nice one in New Look that could have come straight from the 40's but unfortunately for me it was the only wool one in their whole range and I don't wear animal fibre.

    I'm vegan and totally agree with the bit quoted by the poster above, in fact I wrote a long blog post saying basically the same last year. I wouldn't wear fur myself though and do grimace a bit when I see someone wearing it in person, but ethically I agree with you.

  12. Great post on vintage coats. I can't help getting purry looking at those faux furs.The wide sleeves are beginning to come back in - atleast in my local TK Maxx.


I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Related Posts with Thumbnails