Although, at first glance, this looks like another standard 1950’s winter coat it has several features which set it apart. The fur collar has been dyed in a distinctive pattern. The hip pockets are a very different style, though plenty deep for hands, etc. Also, the fabric, rather than being the usual flat weave, is a boucle’. That’s not frequent on these coats at all, in my experience.
So, the general rules don’t always apply, which makes the sleuthing fascinating. And, I love coming across a favorite brand from back in the day. Fashionbilt consistently made stylish coats for the middleclass market that always impressed me with their design and quality, so these exceptional details are no surprise.
Our investigator is a quick-change artiest, no? Never would she be suspected of having spent last evening in a dance hall, being thrown over the heads and through the legs of downtown boys and laughing all the way. Nope, this lady’s got a pedigree even though she’s not associated with any old family name.
The only identification remaining is a Union Garment Workers tag. But, we know that some powerful force (maybe old money?) was pulling the strings behind the factory that put her together. Not only is the style perfectly classic but the materials leave little question about their quality. Though not top-of-the-line, the wool shell, which feels for all the world like cashmere, is beautiful and soft. The perfect lining, which could be silk, is like a caress against the skin. Sturdy, stylish buttons and practical pockets make the tailoring elegant. The careful attachment of the fur collar, which can easily be removed and replaced whenever the coat is cleaned, shows that this is a high-quality design.
Therefore, our investigator can travel in the environs of high society. Later on, we’ll probably see disguises which would allow her to actually breach the gates of Fifth Avenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sifting through the archives is so much fun. These photos look very much alike, but they’re actually two versions of the same style – made for swing dancing and the jitterbug. Gotta have freedom of movement! At least one was sewn at home. I wouldn’t be surprised if most gals had at least one skirt or dress like this during the wartime 1940’s and many had been swingin’ since the ’20’s. So interesting to note that they are both made from a heavy twill fabric which will keep the skirt very much in place as long as your body is upright. Being off your feet dressed in a clingy fabric can lead to some embarrassing situations and a difficult recovery. Still, it would be a disguise challenge, even at a popular venue with great opportunity to blend in with the crowd – stick to the Lindy or there’s no place to conceal your espionage tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Beautiful, beautiful. Worthy of Mata Hari, it’s classically hand-tailored – but wait – in Japan?! This is a traditional Chinese style frock. Also, because of it’s classic design and the handcrafting techniques used in it’s construction, I can’t tell it’s exact age. So many mysterious and conflicting clues – like when agents are “hiding in plain sight”. Perfect disguise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Anyway, after hats off to my craft and fellow operatives, I don’t have to worry about those twists and turns because this case is closed. Now all that’s left to do is declassify the file and enjoy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This is a casual coat from post-WWII mid-century that closes with one hidden button and loop at the waistline. It’s got specialized tailoring details that are my favorite part. The wool fabric is a great “tweed” with fall colors, so a good choice for September. The brown lining is shiny and silky but it’s also got a decorative border above the hem that is embroidered in glossy brown thread. Hidden, but pretty!
See above how the pockets are accented with fabric-covered buckles that don’t do anything but look smart. Unfortunately, the pockets are only deep enough for a tissue or a small coin-purse, but that’s OK. I’ll enjoy wearing it on walks and I can still stop at the corner store. The neckline area, just above the collarbones, is accented with tabs and buttons which also don’t do anything but look stylish. And, the back vent in the hemline is practical but adds the look of good design. A winner!
Despite the uptown appearance, this coat is made of humble fabric but expertly done. Not sure when it was created – could be anywhere from the 1940’s to the very early 1960’s – but it follows the pattern of economy that my recent posts have been showing. However, though it has no labels, I suspect that it was not made at home but was made commercially. It is really well-done and beautifully-designed with seaming that gives it a special fit and flare shape. It’s still got great shoulders, too.
And, of course, the hip pockets that are so important and useful on a good coat. The best ones are made like these last three I’ve shown which hide the pockets so well in the design that they are almost invisible.
Not your typical “twin-set” – I found this pair of ’50’s cuties together – they probably belonged to the same woman. They’re identical excepting for the color. Very becoming to both Madge and Stella, don’t you think? If you zoom in, you can see the decorative studs on the front of each one.
Of the softest angora blend – rollover neckline, 3/4 sleeves and decorated with button accents on the front – these look great with black cigarette pants or a coordinating skirt. Perfect for a casual Fifties or early Sixties cocktail hour. Belly up to the Tiki bar!
True vintage sweaters in perfect condition are always a rare find! Just another day in the life of the magicvintagespy . . . . . .
I have so many pairs of shoes that I absolutely love, but these are truly favorites. So versatile, so comfortable and so “Forties”.
All-leather construction, of course, and well-made. I even wore them one day walking in a parade on city pavement for a couple of hours, wearing a true vintage dress. They stood up beautifully and didn’t hurt my feet!
So, I’ll have these for life. Lovely to not have to say good-bye to favorites – I can just have them repaired eventually.
Ah, the beauty of true vintage . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Morgana Martin, the Magicvintagespy
Book: How to Find the Best in Vintage Fashion available on Amazon.com
Here are a few items that I ran across by surprise – from the 1940s (or so). All perfect finishes for a wartime or post-war costume. Mary-jane all leather shoes (always a classic), Capezio soft leather dance or casual flats and a couple of simple woven bags from the Depression era or time of wartime rationing – a drawstring and one with a metal zip in the top. It’s fun to find things in such good condition (and at very good prices). You just never know . . . .
A pair of, low-heeled classic quasi-spectator-style Mod pumps. Black and white is always “in”, and is always de la mode. Very practical for any Sixties – era outfit. You can also dance the night away in comfort.
This pair is by the famous maker Florsheim, a quality name for decades. Looks great Spring, Summer or Fall. Probably in Winter, too. A classic’s a classic, right?
MORGANA MARTIN, THE MAGICVINTAGESPY
BOOK: HOW TO FIND THE BEST IN VINTAGE FASHION – AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM