This section began as a result of my verifying some cloaks and mantelets for
a collector and seller of museum quality antique (100 year old) English clothing for ebay auctions.
When faced with so much variety of style, it's understandable that the wide
range of costume history terms that exist are often confusing to those seeking
to describe vintage garments or make articles for a theatrical production.
Regular visitors know this site deals only with female costume history, and
in this section I'm going to look at simplifying ways of helping site visitors
understand the differences between the wide range of terms used for female cover
ups as either cloaks, coats or jackets and found especially in the 19th century
in the Brutish Isles until 1970.
Many of you will be familiar with more modern terms like poncho or gilet, but
may not be able to find a single other person who knows what a mantelet with
lappets is or the difference between a Chesterfield and an Ulster coat.
Once terms like these go out of general use, it takes a designer using past
costume as inspiration to revive them and put them back into general vocabulary.
Quite similar terminology is often applied to them all, even though they may
look quite different.
However you only have to think that we might call a pair of trousers a variety
of names from jeans, denims, levis, flares, bootlegs, pants, Oxford bags,
joggers, cords, pedal pushers to leggings and you realise why it is so confusing
to come across such unfamiliar terms as pelerine or mantelet today.
Anyone researching costume cover ups, coats and jackets will eventually come across
some of these words. There are many more terms, but usually they relate to
eras pre 1750 and include medieval terms for coats such as cote-hardie or
ancient terms such as chlamys.
spencer, swagger, swaggerback, surcote, surtout, swing, stole, a suede
trenchcoat, topper, talma,
vest, waistcoat, windcheater, the Witzchoura, wrap, wrapper
Zouave jacket, Zhivago coat
All the above are coats, jackets and cover ups, either short, long, heavy or light,
sleeved or sleeveless. Sometimes the terms are used with freedom to
describe the same item at other times there are distinct differences and
these are explained further on.
In the next few pages you will find an explanation of the various coat terms,
plus as time permits more and more simplified silhouette line drawing I have made
or other illustrations.
For those dating vintage costume this
will be especially useful. I've always thought that nothing beats a simple
line drawing for understanding the elements of a fashion style and the subtle
change in line that gradually occurs. There are also links throughout this
section to glossary terms
already sufficiently covered in other sections on the site.
Fashion-Era.com looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era. Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also
contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear. These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.
Fashion-Era.com can take no responsibility for any information on the site which may cause you error, loss or costs incurred from use of the information and links either directly or
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