One thing I know for sure is that all throughout history, signs of exposure to the elements (or lack thereof) have been used as status symbols. One example: coats. I remember being a teenager and wondering how celebrities could wear such skimpy clothing even in December and January. I soon realized that it’s because they don’t need to dress weather appropriately because they’re never outside (or exposed to the elements) for very long. They likely go from their homes to their cars to their destination.
Rewind to Marlon Brando. He wore an iconic leather jacket in The Wild One which set off a major trend: dressing down as a way to rebel. Until this trend took hold, leather jackets were, presumably, seen as clothing for the working classes.
Fast forward about 30 years to the 80’s when Michael Jackson does something similar:
“If fashion says it’s forbidden, I’m going to do it,”Michael Jackson
It’s no wonder that jackets remain, to this day, very popular. They’re very practical but can also easily be altered/updated to match current fashion trends.
That being said, most of the coats we see and wear on a daily basis stem from uniforms! Fighter-pilots gave rise to bomber jackets. The Eisenhower jacket was made for the army in World War 2, and pea-coats originate from sailors.
“British sailors gave us the peacoat, derived from an early sailor’s canvas coat tarred to make it waterproof (thus, tarpaulin)”Tim Gunn
And, of course, I couldn’t write this post without including trench coats. They originally grew in popularity during the first world war (hence their name)- even though they were first created about 100 years before that. The idea was to create something water proof and practical for everyday life. So, multiple companies produced their own versions of water proof fabrics for these new coats- Aquascutum and Burberry for example. The trench coat eventually took on its more modern look when military regiments began dying them their beige/khaki color to make the troops harder to see (and therefore, making them harder targets).
Finally: fur coats. This coat is, obviously, controversial. It’s generally been worn as a status symbol, but, less and less people are wearing them these days- and for good reason. I, personally, do not support fur coats because the process of extracting the fur is cruel and unnecessary. Plus, even when you aren’t even considering the impact on animals, faux fur is a lot more accessible.
So, what inspired this post? I recently made this coat.
I love it! It’s warm, cozy and very soft (I made it with kashmir jacketing). Sadly, it probably isn’t waterproof though. Side note: I was snowed in at my mother-in-laws over night , so, ignore the fact that I look like a mess!
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible. 2012