Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vintage Evening Coats

vintage evening coat, Ben ReigWhatever happened to evening coats? You know - a long full length coat that you wear over an evening gown? Granted, I very rarely have occasion to wear an evening gown, but when I do I don't have a formal coat to go over it. If the weather is cold or nasty, I've worn one of my daytime coats over the gown and ditched it in the car. Or I've just suffered with a flimsy shawl or no wrap at all until I am able to warm up indoors.

Has the demise of the evening coat been a consequence of our fascination with The Red Carpet? After all, if a celebrity is wearing a designer gown that she has borrowed for the evening, that designer is not going to want the gown covered up by a coat for the camera! I can understand that. But what about the rest of us? Doesn't it make sense to complete a formal look by wearing a formal coat? Imagine the drama of it. You get to make an entrance in a formal coat. Then you get to make a second entrance when you remove the coat to reveal your evening gown. Fun, no?

Above: "A magnificent silk faille evening coat in Diablo red over a jewel encrusted sheath in imported silk". Both by Ben Reig for Julius Garfinkle, 1963.

vintage opera coat, Bergdorf Goodman"Only silk is silk. Would you make your entrance in anything less? Silk satin opera cloak. Silk matelasse gown." Both at Bergdorf Goodman, 1963.

vintage evening coat, Bergdorf Goodman"Burning brightly into the gala nights ahead, this ember-red coat dips to the floor in anticipation of the new, long evening dressing." Of double faced silk satin, also in emerald green or black silk satin or silk brocade. $375 ($2650 today) at Bergdorf Goodman, 1963.

OK, I understand. No one has $2600 to throw around on an evening coat today. What's a gal to do? Buy vintage, of course! And a beautiful vintage opera coat is going to cost a lot less than $2650.

vintage evening coat, Henri Bendel, emerald green silkThis 1960's opera coat by Henri Bendel in green silk satin with a turquoise silk lining is available at Couture Allure for $125.