Some projects deserve more than one blog post and this pattern and coat fall into that category.
From the magical year of 1957 (I promise some time I will devote an entire post to the notable spot that the year 1957 occupies in the modern history of fashion), this coat pattern is in a class of its own. Referred to as a “car coat” in two Vogue Pattern Book Magazine entries, it is a quintessential example of that genre. Here’s why:
- It is a wonderful example of fashion following lifestyle. The copyright date of 1957 puts it firmly in the early appearance of this form. To wit, the entry for car coats in Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion reads: “Sport or utility coat made hip-to-three-quarter length, which is comfortable for driving a car. First became popular with the station-wagon set in suburbia in the 1950s and 1960s and has become a classic style since then.” (ibid, p. 89)
- The flap pockets – three of them – are intentionally utilitarian, but also add a certain finesse to the coat. Those flaps help protect the contents of the pocket – in the case of a car coat, obviously keys, perhaps gloves, or even a change purse.
- The side slits give a bit of wiggle room to the area of the hips, for sliding in and out of car seats. And the buttoned tabs at the wrists add to its aesthetic appeal. No, they are not really necessary, but that is not what this coat was all about. It was meant to be extremely functional, but smart looking.
- The concealed front in View B, commonly referred to as a fly front, steps the appearance of this coat up a notch. Particularly notable is the arrowhead detail at the top of the topstitching on the front of the coat.
- The busy mother and wife would have looked very “put-together” wearing this coat out and about. Later versions of the car coat style included Benchwarmer, Duffel coat, Ranch coat, Mackinaw jacket, Stadium coat, and Toggle coat (according to Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion) But this coat was a car coat, in its very pure early, but fashionable form.
This pattern is featured twice in the Vogue Pattern Book Magazine from August-September 1957.
Here is the longer version shown on page 22:
And here on page 37 is a drawing (by illustrator Dilys Wall) of the coat in red with this description: “A hounds-tooth-check car coat with three flap pockets, side-slit seams, and tab-button detail on the sleeves. Designed in sizes 10 to 18.”
Interestingly, also featured in this same magazine is this example of a child’s coat, also with a fly front. This type of opening takes more skill – and time – to make. I love the affirmation this item gives to the commitment and ability of the home-sewer in the 1950s.
Because this coat has those extra details which put it a notch above ordinary, there is a lot of preparation work before seams can actually be sewn together. The sleeve tabs, with their bound buttonholes must be complete before the sleeve seams can be sewn. Additionally, the set-in pockets with their flaps present a considerable amount of prep work on the fronts of the coat. Sounds like fun to me! More to come . . .