The history of jackets is very long. So, I won’t be covering everything but I wanted to share some of the most interesting facts that I’ve found.
One of the most obvious signs of wealth: wearing clothing that’s inappropriate for the season. Celebrities are often seen wearing mini skirts and short dresses in the middle of winter- even in cold climates.
So, in this case, not needing coats or jackets has been seen as a status symbol.
I find it a little obnoxious if I’m being honest- they don’t need to wear warm clothes and coats because they likely have their drivers drop them off at the front door or wherever they’re going. The amount of time they actually spend outside is probably very minimal in the winter months.
For reasons such as this, coats and jackets have been signs of one’s wealth (or lack thereof).
Interestingly, at the time of writing this, puffer coats are currently having their moment on runways ranging from Prada to Balmain.
Brief History of Jackets
Rewind back to the time of Marlon Brando. He wore an iconic leather jacket in The Wild One and 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 and snubbed by the upper classes.
Fast forward about 30 years to the 80’s when Michael Jackson does something similar wearing a jacket similar to Marlon Brando:
If fashion says it’s forbidden, I’m going to do itMichael Jackson
It’s no wonder that leather jackets remain very popular. They’re very practical but can also easily be easily altered to match current fashion trends.
That being said, the most common 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
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 along the muddy terrains (and therefore, making them harder targets).
Another type of coat used to display social status: 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.
There’s also so many alternatives these days that I think also look better than fur! (aside from faux fur); such as teddy fleece.
I’m actually planning on making a jacket out of this teddy fleece that I got from BlackBird Fabrics.
Finally, wool! I couldn’t find an exact answer on the origin of wool coats other than that they originate in the 1800s and are also have military and naval backgrounds.
There is a lot that can be said about wool, so, if you’d like to read an entire post about wool, check it out here!
To wrap up this post, here are some coats I’ve made in the past couple years. They are both wool that I got from Fabricland. The grey one was made using a BurdaStyle pattern and the red one is a pattern by MimiGStyle and Simplicity.
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible. 2012