fashion · history

New Look Princess Coat: A Closer Look Inside

Here is my promised detailed look into my princess coat! Putting this post up took a little longer than I anticipated. I ended up falling down the google rabbit hole researching this one. And then in the mean time, I ended up picking up another era unidentified vintage coat. I might have a problem. My husband says I can only have so many vintage coats that fit in our coat closet . . .  I may need to pull some chairs out of there to give me more room. 😀

But, details first, research second!

New Look black wool princess coat

Here’s a full look at the coat. You may want to increase the brightness of your screen to really get the details clear. It is so hard to photograph black on black!

As you can see, wide collar that makes for very defined shoulders and dramatic cuffs. I love how this becomes more subtle details when worn!

Waist detail on black wool princess coat

Here is the waist detail. All that fullness in the skirt is gathered into a series of pleats that begins in the front and goes all the way around. Also – no closures to be seen.

Cuff detail on vintage black wool princess coat

Cuff detail. There is one button on each cuff, and they are purely decorative.

Slash pockets

Slash pockets, lined with same material as lining.

Hem detail on vintage black wool princess coat

The hem is bound with rayon seam tape and looks to be finished by machine.

Lining hemming. I am not impressed

The lining is free hanging, and underlined for warmth. I didn’t realize this before I went to photograph this part, but the lining was really “hemmed” using safety pins. Those will be remedied soon. The lining is a soft silky material, probably rayon, but I am unsure.

Scruggs Vandervoort and Barney, St. Louis

Now the labels, and with them, research! Most obvious is the Scruggs Vandervoot and Barney Saint Louis label. Scruggs, Vandervoot, and Barney was a department store in downtown St. Louis. It started out as  a dry good store in 1850, and was around until 1969 when it finally closed. Interesting, but not very helpful in my search to date this coat!

National Recovery Board Label

Then there’s the National Recovery Board label. The National Recovery Board was a part of the New Deal, and was passed in 1934, and declared unconstitutional in the 1960s. We can narrow the date of this coat down a little further!

Styled by Swansdown New York label

Finally, the most interesting, the most telling, and the hardest label to find information about: Swansdown. Swansdown isn’t a label found in the Vintage Fashion Guild’s label resource, so it took a lot of creative googling to find information on this brand. What makes matters worse: Swansdown is also the name of a flour company that is still around today. Let me put this into perspective: Scruggs, Vandervoot, and Barney has their own wikipedia page. No such page on Swansdown or their parent company, Morris W. Haft & Brothers, Inc.

I’ve found evidence that the Swansdown label stopped being produced in 1955, but this information comes from another blog post published in 2013.

Swansdown ad from 1944
Source

Finally, I struck gold. My Vintage Vogue’s ad resources. A whole page of Swansdown ads. Here’s one from 1944, which mentions war bonds. Notice the font of Swansdown. It doesn’t match my label.

Swansdown coat ad from 1945
Source

Here’s another from 1945, still the old label. Look at that collar, very wide and dramatic. There are no closures on this coat either. Similarities, but the details aren’t quite right. (By the way, that coat cost $55 in 1945, the equivalent of $737 today).

Swansdown suit ad from 1945, with new stylized label.
Source

But, another ad from 1945, pay dirt. That’s my label! It looks like this Swansdown label was used by the Haft brother(s) until 1955. The last ad in My Vintage Vogue’s collection is from 1954.

From all this, I can safely say that my coat is a New Look era coat, possibly dating from 1945-1955. Whew! I still would like to track down a more specific date, perhaps find an ad of this coat or ones more like it, but I have exhausted my research skills for now. There might be a way to pinpoint this coat’s manufacture date through the details on its National Recovery Board label, but no such resource exists online yet. Perhaps one day!

I hope that you enjoyed this closer look into my New Look princess coat as much as I did!

What was your favorite detail? Anything else you’d like to see? Let me know if it’s something that you enjoy seeing.

Sources

Swansdown and Jaunty Junior Coats – 1949

My Vintage Vogue Gallery

University of Missouri St. Louis Virtual St. Louis

Vintage Fashion Guild

Harry G. Haft, 75, Coat Manufacturer

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