Category Archives: Fashion History

The Ultimate Princes Coat – Historical Pieces

For my last post, I had searched far and wide to locate the perfect quintessential princess coat with fur trim all around, but I had a lot of trouble finding one.  I figured it was because they had recently been in high demand for Christmas and winter, but it is true that they are somewhat rare as well.  I forgot, though, to look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, silly me!  I stumbled upon this piece of theirs on Pinterest, and thought I would post it here so that we could all revel in it’s beauty. It is perhaps unwearable but still worth adoring!

Circa 1968, i.e. approaching the decade of the princess coat and was designed by Shannon Rodgers.


They also have a few other princess coats in their collection that are  lot of fun to look at as well.  Voila:

Circa 1955, Traina-Norell


Circa 1970, George Caplan


Circa 1970, Norman Norell


Circa 1967, Oscar de la Renta


Circa 1970, Arnold Scaasi


Circa 1972


Circa 1970s, Yves Saint Laurent


Circa 1968-69



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The Princess Coat

We just got 43 centimeters of glorious fluffy snow here in Montreal.  This in itself is a vintage experience and reminds me of the snowfalls we used to get around here back when I was a kid and of those my parents described playing in when they were young too.  This kind of scenery puts me in the mood to talk about vintage winter fashion and the first thing that comes to mind is the princess coat!

Princess coat?  What is a princess coat you ask?  Well, you won’t find a definition of such a thing anywhere, but in the vintage scene, it is well understood.  The first characteristic that defines a princess coat is that it is flared at the waist.  Next is fur trim; this can come in many variations with the most quintessential pieces having trim along all the edges of the coat.  They come most commonly in wool, leather, suede or shearling with fur of various kinds.  The most glorious pieces are of course the ones from the 40s to 70s. Here are some available on Etsy:





Fur trimmed:





There are many shearling princess coats available from the 1970s, the decade that really embraced this style.  My favourites are the little short ones with fur trim all around but there are several variations and they are all fashionable and cozy!







Another popular version is the Russian princess  coat.   These are more a-line in cut and are double breasted like a pea coat or some variation on that theme.  They usually have fur trim on the collar and/or cuffs.  The red and black versions of these are truly classic Russian style, but all of these coats are amazing and are great timeless investments.  Keep in mind too that you could add trim yourself to a coat that you already have.  Faux fur is available in any fabric store, and you can always find real fur cuffs & collars in vintage shops.







If you prefer not to wear real fur you are not out of luck, and you will be far less out-of-pocket (usually ;)).






What is the perfect companion to a princess coat?  Clearly a fur muff and hat set!

Happy winter & HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Chevron Stripes

Stripes have a reputation.  Horizontal stripes in particular have long been blamed for having a widening effect.  Which is why, I hypothesize, that they have been relegated to socks with such popularity. These days though, there are a lot of great stripe variations that are really nice and wearable.

However, there is one particular fool-proof solution: the chevron stripe!  Just like the road sign, this means stripes in a V-shaped pattern.   There are some variations to the chevron stripe.  One that is fairly popular for home decor right now is the zig zag stripe but I am not a big fan of this one for fashion items:


Rather, I recommend going with the ones that are a single “ ” down the middle, either with two colours, a selection of colours or a gradation of the same colour; the stripes can be the same thickness or vary in that as well:

images          gdozer2011         MintOmbreChevron2_shop_preview         justrite133

Today, many fabrics and knits are made with chevron striping already.  However, a chevron can easily be acheived by sewing striped materiel together on the diagonal which is how the many of vintage pieces were made. This requires some degree of care as you must match up the stripes, which necessitates the kind of dedication that  many manufacturers no longer bother with.

You can find chevron pieces from many decades however, it is really a style that is associated with the 1970s.  It must have been a pretty major fashion trend back then because you can find so many pieces from this decade, including most of the examples that I feature here.   Perhaps because of this, the 70s is the decade that does the the chevron best and provides the most beautiful examples.

The direction of the chevron can be either right side up () which most pieces are, or it can be upside down ().  Here are a few examples available on Etsy that demonstrate how these two versions can look:

Right side up (⋁)



Upside down (⋁)

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While we are on the subject of direction, my absolute favourite chevron pieces are the dresses that have both directions.  So, the top is an upside down and the bottom is a right side up , and a diamond is created at the waist.  You can find these from time to time in 70s dresses but they are not that common… so if you find one that fits, grab it!  Here are a couple of classic example:



The reverse is even rarer and can be pretty amazing, this dress on Etsy being an incredible example!


You can also find some dresses where the skirt is a chevron but the bodice is horizontal or vertical.  In some ways I suppose this can widen the chest and slim down the hips if that is the sort of effect that you are looking for.




From all of these examples, you can really see that the chevron was a staple in skirts during the 70s.  But I also really love it for shirts and the top part of dresses.  It can be a really flattering look!



The chevron did prevail for a while during the 80s for tops as well and you do start to see some examples from then, especially in the bat-wing armed sweaters that spanned the late 70s into the 80s.




To get this look, have a look at some great pieces that I have grouped into some Etsy treasuries: skirtstopsdresses and even more dresses.

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Filed under Fashion History, How to wear vintage, Vintage trends

The Peplum Through History

I have so much to say about peplums that this is going to be a two part post.  This first one introduces the peplum and its journey through time.

Peplum is a word that, along with the fashion has gone  largely underground for 70 years with only a brief resurfacing in the 1980s.  However, it has been slowly making a comeback on the runways over the last few years, and this season it is really here with a vengeance.

First off, if you have never heard of it, you’ll be wanting a definition.  A peplum is basically an over skirt, that is usually attached to another garment such as a jacket, blouse, skirt or dress.   Its main purpose was essentially to highlight the mini waist by accentuating the hips.

These types of adornments stem from the embellished dresses of the 1800s and beyond. There are many examples at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (p.s. their website is simply amazing!).

The next big break for the peplum was in the 30s and 40s where it was a staple attached to dresses and jackets.  There were many variations from long to short, even and uneven and a look at old pattern designs can give you a nice idea of their range.  You can also see where todays inspirations come from out of this fashion era.

In reality these designs translate into pieces such as the ones just below, which are also part of the collection at The Met.

In the 50s, the peplum was done to a degree as it faded out, but not in any major way, which is made obvious by the fact that it is hard to find 50s dresses with them nowadays. Most true peplums of this time were similar to those in the 40s so there is no reason to search out 50s peplum dresses.  However there were also several peplum inspired embellishments  to one side or in the back, and several gathered versions which are really unique and very fashionable. It was a time for out with the old and in with the new!  Here are some examples that you can get on Etsy:

And again, here are some absolutely gorgeous examples from The Met (the one on the left is Dior and the other two are by Charles James):

The peplum resurfaced with force in the 1980s, particularly for party dresses and suits, with variations from your wildest dreams. Here are a few amazing examples on Etsy.  By the way, you can own these, and I recommend it!

For a few more crazy pieces have a look at my Etsy treasury: Wild Peplums of the 80s .

As I mentioned, peplums are everywhere now.  Just open a fashion magazine or do a google search to see how these are being done today!  What I love about taking a look back at them through time is that you can see where the inspirations come from, but also see what is new.  These days, the peplum, as in the 80s, is important for party dresses, but similar to the 40s, it is also being done for day wear. I love how designers have taken it to a new complex level  of geometrical, structured or floufy. Here are a few particularly spectacular examples:


Bottega Veneta

Zac Posen


Giorgio Armani

Tracy Reese

Two of my next posts detail how to go vintage for this trend, both for beautiful peplum jackets and dresses as well as detachable peplum belts!



1. Sewing Made Easy; New Revised Edition.  By Marie Lynch & Dorothy Sara. Garden City Books, ~1955. USA. Pgs. 360




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