It is not. However, I am quite sure this classic look from 1974 was inspired by the classic Trench Coat as we know it.
I am certain this Vogue pattern is from 1974, as it is featured in that year’s July/August issue of Vogue Pattern Book Magazine. It is part of a section entitled NEW ARRIVALS.
The caption tells me it is made in silk shantung, a little bit of information unknown to me when I decided to make my (new) version of it in silk taffeta.
Interestingly, in the same NEW ARRIVALS section, a dress by Patou also is reminiscent of Trench coat style, with its epaulets, slotted pockets with shaped flaps and a belted waist. It also has a center back inverted pleat.
Fast forward two years and here is a very classic Trench in the 1976 September/October issue of Vogue Pattern Book Magazine.
The caption reads: “Come rain, come shine, what more liveable coat than the trench! All that star reporter elan in epaulets, front & back shields, center back inverted pleat.” This particular pattern also includes a detachable lining for the coat and additional detachable collar. I believe that is the collar you see in red in the above picture from the magazine. The thumbnail drawings of the pattern are helpful in seeing these details:
Now, hang onto your hats and fast forward 46 years to 2022. The Trench Coat, despite being in fashion since the 1940s, is apparently enjoying new attention and reimagination according to an article in the Style & Fashion section of The Wall Street Journal, April 23-24, 2022. Although I am a little doubtful as to the long-lasting appeal of some of the Trench Coat variations shown and suggested in the article by Katharine K. Zarrella – which include a skirt, pants and a corset (really?) – some of the reflections and thoughts on Trench Coat style by various fashion insiders are worth sharing.
Michael Kors is quoted as saying: “A trench coat inherently feels like an old friend that makes you feel very secure… But you want an old friend to surprise you.” (Pink checks, anyone?)
Jane Tynan, author of a soon-to-be-released book entitled Trench Coat, says the appeal of the Trench to contemporary women is the “danger and sensuality it conveys.” (Think spies and clandestine meetings.) However, a certain Loa Patman of Boston, Massachusetts, says, “Anything trench-inspired tends to look somewhat pulled together and professional.”
Well, I don’t expect to be doing any sleuthing in my Trench-inspired Christian Dior design from 1974, but I do aspire to feel “pulled together” while wearing it. Right now it is anything but pulled together, as you can see from the photos of my “work in progress”.
Thinking further about the origins – and definitional category – of this particular design from the House of Dior, it seems to me to be a cross between a dressmaker coat and a Trench. Perhaps “Dressmaker Trench” might be the best description. As you will recall, if you follow this blog, I have referred to “dressmaker coats” before. Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion describes it as: “A woman’s coat designed with softer lines and more details than the average coat. May have a waistline and unusual details, e.g., tucks or pleats.” (p. 92, ibid.)
I’m not sure Dressmaker Coat is a descriptor many use anymore, but it certainly is useful. One thing I am quite certain of, once this Trench-inspired Dressmaker Coat is finished – it promises to stand the test of further time. I anticipate it as a staple in my Spring and early Summer wardrobe.
A Blue, White and Pink Tunic Top
Perhaps many of you are familiar with this famous quote from Edith Head (American costume designer, 1897-1981): “A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to prove you’re a lady.” When it comes to tunic tops, my very inelegant redo of that quote is: “A tunic should be fitted enough to not be baggy and loose enough to be able to get into it.” I find that combination to be a difficult task. Let’s see how I did with this one:
When I saw this pretty fabric on Emma One Socks’s website, I just knew I needed to purchase a length of it. All cotton, it is finely woven and silky soft. Originally, I thought I would make a dress, but when it arrived, I saw it as a tunic top, trimmed in pink, of course. I have a couple of tunic patterns, but I went back to this one because the front opening is longer than most, making it easier to get on and get off.
The interesting thing about this pattern is that there is no fastener/button indicated for that long opening. I’m not sure how one would keep a degree of modesty – or even keep the tunic properly on one’s body – without a button or at least a hook and eye. More about that later.
There are a couple of features of this pattern I like, besides that long opening in the front. It has shoulder darts in the back, which I always find add just a little necessary fitting finesse.
I also like the way the front facing is constructed, and the width of the stand-up collar. However, the pattern lacks slimming darts in the back. My limited experience with sewing tunics has taught me that without long defining fisheye darts in the back, my tunic is going to be baggy and look like a sack. So, I added them.
I also shortened the sleeves, as I prefer a length just below the elbow, and I took out some of the width of the “trumpet.” Even with a narrower sleeve, I knew turning up a hem on it would result in a less than smooth finish. To get around this, I took the pattern piece for the bottom panel for the long sleeve (shown on the pattern), flipped it, narrowed it, and shortened it to give me a facing which would be a perfect fit into the lower curve of the sleeve.
Back to that front opening: when sewing the facing on, I added a loop to the right side so that I could strategically place a button to keep the gap closed. On this fabric, it seems hardly noticeable, but oh my, is it necessary!
One of the beauties of tunics is there are no rules on how trim is applied or placed or even if it is used. I had purchased two widths of Petersham ribbon for use on this garment, fully intending on using two rows to echo the front opening. However, I determined that would be too much. Instead, I used the narrower ribbon on the collar and as the second row around the hem and the side slits. The sleeves seemed to look better with the wider width of ribbon. The ribbon adds a degree of stability to the hem, especially, which helps the tunic to hang properly.
By the way, sewing all that Petersham ribbon on is helped immensely by the use of Dritz WashAway adhesive tape.
Obviously I have not washed this tunic yet, but in its first laundering the tape securing the ribbon will, indeed, wash away. I expect a softer appearance of the ribbon at that point, which seems to have a few waves in it at present.
Pictures often are the best way to check fit on a garment (even after multiple try-ons to fine-tune it), and I was pleased with the final, slightly fitted, non-baggy appearance of this tunic. In other words, it does not look like a sack! It is easy to slip on, less so getting it off, but still very manageable. (Sometimes a side zipper can be – or needs to be – added to help with this task of dressing and undressing. The abbreviated length of this example precluded that option.)
I’m not sure what Edith Head would have thought about tunics, if anything (!), but I am thinking positively about this one.
Filed under Blouses, Fashion commentary, Loops for buttons, Tunics, Uncategorized, Vogue patterns
Tagged as Emma One Sock Fabrics, fashion sewing, sewing, tunic tops