Last week, out of Elise’s gifts, I showed you an exceedingly quirky and romantic and feminine leaf-green velvet evening wrap - a perfect illustration of the mid-late 1930s Medieval Revival. This week I’m sticking with velvet evening wraps, but going to the other extreme, to illustrate another fashion trend of the late 1930s – the masculine look for women. Thus an almost severe and mannish evening cape:
You’ve already had a sneak-peek at this rather masculine monochrome evening cape: I wore it to the premier of Porcelaintoy’s Monsters.
Me in the cape at the launch
I’m afraid the cape hasn’t photographed very well – the contrast of the black velvet and the white satin lining was just too tricky to balance. I’ll try my best to tell you about it in great detail to fill in the gaps.
Quilted white satin lining, black velvet outer
Like most of the textiles Elise gave me, this cape dates from the late 1930s, as shown by the materials used and the broad shoulders.
Classic late 1930s broad shoulders
The cape outer is black velvet – almost certainly rayon. It’s fully lined in quilted rayon sateen.
The quilted lining
The lining swings loose from the velvet outer at the hem, allowing the inside construction to be inspected. The quilted is backed in some soft of fill – definitely synthetic, but I’m not sure what it is. The fill is foxing badly with age.
The foxed and stained quilt backing
While the lining is relatively cheap, and the outer velvet is probably rayon, a bit of luxury has been added in the cloaks hood with a silk satin lining.
The lux silk satin hood lining
It makes sense that valuable fabric would be used where it makes the most effect: the hood lining is always visible, whether it is hanging down the back, or pulled up, with the silk framing the face.
The hood hanging down the back of the jacket, with glimpses of the silk lining
For all its severity and masculinity, this cape does have one distinct similarity to the leaf-green jacket: the shoulders are gathered in exactly the same way. The extra stitching controls the fullness, and padding and structure underneath the gathers create the fashionable broad-shouldered effect.
Gathered and controlled cape fullness
The only other decorative detail in the construction of the cape is the double-buttons that fasten the front of the cloak, a feature common to male evening cloaks of the early 20th century.
The double buttons and loops on the front of the cloak
The cape is a commercial garment, as shown by the label in the neck, which still has the original owner’s initials pencilled on it! The label could be the garment maker, or the department store that sold the garment.
The label. MBH? MRH?
Despite its age, and unlike most of the other garments, the cape is still quite robust and eminently wearable. I’m not sure if it will get many more outings – I do want to keep it in perfect condition. I did feel quite fabulous and glamourous in it! I hope MBH, whoever she was, felt the same when she wore it.
Wearing the jacket
I made the Frumpy Dress well over two years now, and I wear it all the time, and I’ve never really gotten proper pictures of me wearing it.
But Yay for Art Deco Weekend! The perfect excuse for an early 30s dress.
My only regret is that I didn’t wear it with bright red lipstick. It’s so pretty with bright red lipstick.
Instead, I wore it with my Neo oxford pumps, my marcasite and cameo necklace, and a vintage tan leather handbag which I found in an op-shop three days before the Art Deco festival, and was ridiculously delighted with because I think matching shoes and bag is so important for the vintage look.
I started out the day in a little blue hat that I bought from Claire (and which she immediately borrowed back to wear with her dress!), and finished it with a big grey blue and cream sunhat (perfect for the dress, very late 20s/early 30s, but dreadful for photographs and seeing where you are going!).
Last week I blogged about all the stuff I wanted to get finished for Art Deco Weekend. I didn’t get everything I wanted done, and that wasn’t all a bad thing – it turns out that evening gowns aren’t really a great idea for street dancing in sweaty heat (actually, street dancing and sweaty heat aren’t a good idea either, alone or together).
One thing I did finish was my floral chiffon 1930s dress.
It’s made from Excella E3137, one of my vintage patterns. I made it up without the hip ruffles, because really, hip ruffles?
I’ll do a proper review of the pattern in a bit, once I finish the dress properly.
I mean, it’s finished properly (rolled hems, French seams & double sewn seams), but I’m not happy with it. Somehow it just looks uninteresting. Somehow I failed to notice that except for those hip ruffles it’s just a sack with quirky seaming. And the quirky seaming doesn’t even show with the print! Maybe it needs those hip ruffles after all! So I’m going to take it apart just a little and see if I can’t give it some flair. Any suggestions?
So the dress as you are seeing it now is Little Bit of Red dress V.1.
And when I feel like fussing with silk chiffon again, I’ll pull it apart, and we’ll have V.2 . Almost as good as a new dress!
Uninteresting or not, it was lovely to wear on a sweltering Sunday in Napier. It kept me nice and cool, the breeze blew the chiffon about, I ran about on the beach and sat on the gravel and took pictures and even got in a dance or two.
And went in the fountain again:
In fact, I even drove home in it, all the way to Wellington!
So what do you think? Are the fabric and a belt enough to make it interesting, if not spectacular? Or do you have a brilliant suggestion for spicing it up?