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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Buying & Renovating Vintage Coats, Vintage Fur Coats and Wool Coats with Fur Trim

May 17th, 2024 by violette

Today I was working on restoring this beautiful 1940s era coat trimmed in real vintage fur. Of course I wanted to preserve it. It is truly a thing of beauty! It needed a lot of work as the thread holding it together was deteriorating. I had to remove the fur pieces so I could have the cloth portion dry cleaned, then hand sew all the seams and reinforce the hand sewn bound buttonholes. In the process I discovered many wonderful details involved in its construction. There was much to appreciate!

The mauve boucle wool coat is originally from the 1940s and features a removable Kolinsky fur scarf collar and wide cuffs that were dyed to look like mink. This coat was made in England. They used to use Kolinsky instead of mink because it was less expensive. It the pelts were not the desired color or perfectly matched they would bleach and dye them to be the desired base color of dark brown or caramel then paint a darker stripe down the center to emulate mink. FYI Kolinsky are a type of weasel and they are not endangered. More about Kolinsky fur at the end of this post.

This fur was professionally identified as Kolinsky by Rene Vogel who is a professional Swiss Furrier who formerly ran the fur salons of Nordstrom flagship store and I. Magnin and Co. in Seattle, WA.

I especially love the crossover fur scarf at the neck and the wool loop with two rhinestone set fittings holding it in place. It is a beautiful and unusual design detail – as are the large still plush and shiny wide and luxurious fur cuffs! When you insert your arms into the sleeves you find a real treat in the form of the surprise details hidden underneath inside the sleeves.

When you turn back the fur cuff you find an inner wrist cuff that buttons snugly around the wrist to keep out the cold air! How thoughtful!

The fabric is a mauve colored wool boucle with a loopy highly textured surface, underneath is is layer of wool interfacing to provide an extra layer of warmth between the main fabric and the lining which is a taffeta-like slippery fabric chosen to slide over the clothes you wear under your coat.

The lining is a pretty sort of lavender grey color printed with spools of thread and sewing needles – charming harbingers of the tailors art – when you look underneath you see all the fine sewing techniques. Look at the elegant stitching. Every seam is finished with care. There are no raw edges of fabric, no strangling untied off or un-trimmed threads, no irregular seams.

When this coat was made and sold in the 1940s women went shopping and inspected the seams and linings and insides of clothes before finally buying them to be sure they were well constructed and beautifully made. They were going to be sure that a garment not only looked fashionable and attractive, but would also hold up over time. They looked for high quality fabrics and furs, excellent tailoring technique, and perfect stitching. Mothers would explain all these characteristics to their daughters to teach them to shop carefully. In the next photo you can see the hand sewn bound buttonholes and custom made self-fabric covered buttons.

You would look for pockets, then put your hand inside to check how deep it was, and whether is was lined. Was the lining, hopefully, soft, warm flannel ( it would hold up better than a satin lined pocket as well as be warmer should you need to put your hands into your pockets on a cold evening walk to keep them warm. ) You also needed to determine whether the pockets were deep enough to hold a pair of gloves. It was important because you would not want to lose an expensive pair of gloves should they fall out of a pocket that was not large enough to hold them deep inside.

This one would do on both accounts! A testament to the fact is that I actually found a pair of brown kidskin gloves still deep inside the pockets of the coat when I acquired it! What an unexpected thrill!

It was important to look carefully at the coat from all angles to be sure it hung correctly on your body, fit well across the shoulders and allowed you to move feely when wearing it. Of course is should look elegant and fit well too! In the olden days they had three-way full length mirrors situated at regular intervals throughout stores. Why? So customers could see how the clothes looked on them. And because it was a great selling tool. If you could easily determine that a garment fit you and looked good you were far more likely to decide to buy it and to make that decision quickly. In the dressing rooms there were even better mirrors and they often had shoes you could try on with clothes to achieve the proper effect – again, an effort on the part of the store to provide the shopper with the necessary tools with which to make a decision to purchase the garment. Stores also had alterations people and tailors on hand to guarantee a proper fit. Consulting with a professional tailor on staff was a free service provided by most stores. Trousers would be hemmed at the proper length, sleeve length adjusted to the best length for the customer, etc. This was most often a service included in the purchase of the garment. Only really extensive alterations were charged extra. Did this work as a sales technique? Yes! people came back to the same store and the same sales person over and over again. I am always annoyed in contemporary stores by the lack of mirrors on the sales floors.

Upon inspection of the shaping this coat has beautiful shaping through the shoulders. Note the sloped seaming and the way the raglan sleeves are constructed. The fur scarf can be removed so this can be fully seen. And, the scarf can be worn by itself on other garments! A silk scarf can be used at the neckline on the coat also to change the look and presentation of the coat! You can wrap the scarf in a similar manner as the fur crossing one side over the other and slipping one end under the fabric loop to hold it in place! I do not have a silk scarf on hand at this moment to demonstrate this but will come back and do so again later. You can visualize how it will look by substituting a silk scarf for the fur scarf.

This coat is beautiful and well made and I am quite proud of myself for restoring it and bringing it back into circulation as a useful, wearable and admirable piece of vintage clothing. It is a prime example of why we should save vintage clothing from the junk heap, rescue it from those who want to throw it out and reuse and re-appreciate it. In my personal opinion the design of this coat is exceptionally nice!

Just as I was finishing writing this post I received a link to an article in an email from a friend who also loves vintage furs. The link was to an article she found about vintage furs coming back into style and issues surrounding the controversy of the subject. Please read it. It will be my next post!

Wearing Vintage Furs and the Controversies Surrounding Them.

Rare and beautiful historic clothing and accessories, including coats and furs, are for sale in my online shops. If you see something on this blog that you are interested in buying, but do not find it for sale in my shops message me on Etsy or Ebay and I will get back to you about availability. I check messages daily and can always prepare a special listing for you if you do not find it already listed in the shops.

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutique

Poshmark: cocoviolette

FashionConservatory: Lady Violette Boutique

You can reach professional Swiss furrier Rene Vogel via email  Rene’ Vogel <rdcvogel@msn.com> or by phone at (425)322-9638 to schedule appointments for all your fur related needs. 

I want to make it clear to my readers that I chose to write about Rene Vogel to share information I have learned from him about furs and to provide them access to him as a reliable professional furrier should they wish to find one. Rene is not paying me to write about him 

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