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.


Romeika said...

These look magnificent! So so glamorous.. I agree with you, the lack of evening coats lies in this celeb thing, they do not wear anything on top of the gown/dress, no matter how freezing it is outside. I'm going to the opera tonight, and no evening fanzy coat for me hehe:)

Sal said...

They're all knockout pieces ... a little tough to justify for those of us who only attend state dinners but rarely, but knockout pieces nonetheless.

Couture Carrie said...

How fabulous!! I adore floor-length coats, and they are so hard to find!


Karen said...

Please, please, can anyone tell me where to find a pattern similar to the first two coats on this page? I want to make a silk satin tea-length version to wear to my son's wedding in December. I've looked at Vogue patterns but nothing quite right. Many, many thanks. Karen

Anonymous said...

I attend several formal events per year. My husband and I love to ballroom dance, so we attend formal balls. I have a long black velvet cloak lined in black silk satin to cover my ball gowns. I also own a black velvet frock coat, and a vintage silk taffeta evening coat with 3/4 dolman sleeves. I also have a couple short velvet jackets, and a silk taffeta bolero for cool spring days, as well as the obligatory wraps and shawls.
However, I agree that I see very few people who have proper outerwear. It's really quite sad, since most balls are held in the winter, and the ladies are freezing. In Austria, where there is a vibrant ball culture, this is not the case, and ladies still wear beautiful coats and cloaks.

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