Two Vintage Evening Wraps, 1920s

Three evening capes, 1922. From Olian's Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties.

Three evening capes, 1922. From Olian’s Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties.

Capes and wraps were often worn with evening dress in the late 1910’s and early 1920’s. Coats with dolman sleeves — or fur trimmed coats of various shapes — took over in the later twenties. Here, I want to share two vintage wraps — one is especially luxurious.

Back detail of gold evening wrap, early 1920s. Private collection.

Back detail of vintage gold evening wrap, early 1920s. Private collection.

High, crushed or textured collars were usually a feature.

Cape and dress pattern, Butterick No. 5072. Delineator, March 1924.

Cape and dress pattern, Butterick No. 5072. Delineator, March 1924. This dress is not an evening dress, and was included in the pattern.

Evening cape, Butterick 4919, Jan. 1924. Delineator.

Evening cape, Butterick 4919, Jan. 1924. Delineator.

Evening cape pattern, Butterick 4963. Delineator, Feb. 1924.

Evening cape pattern, Butterick 4963. Delineator, Feb. 1924.

Trousseau dress, Butterick 5291, and matching cape 3788. Delineator, June 1924.

Trousseau dress, Butterick 5291, and matching cape 3788. Delineator, June 1924.

One of the most difficult things about wearing these wraps was that most of them had to be held closed to stay on.

These are not hands-free fashions. Three capes, Butterick patterns 5116, 5559, and 4963.

These are not hands-free fashions. Three capes, Butterick patterns 5116, 5559, and 4963. All from 1924. Delineator magazine. Note the shoulder yoke at right.

Imagine trying to climb into a taxi while holding your clutch purse in one hand and keeping your cloak from falling off with the other!

This vintage garment carries the problem to an extreme; there are no fastenings and no slits for the arms.

Vintage evening wrap circa 1920's; It has a shaped shoulder yoke, but has to be held closed.

Vintage evening wrap circa 1920’s; it has a shaped shoulder yoke, but has to be held closed. (I used a silk pin for the purpose of this photo.)

It was very heavy, and may have been built on a base of wool. It cleverly gives the impression of fur by using cream lace over a thick, slightly darker (duvetyn?)fabric at top and bottom; in the middle is a rectangle of golden-tan velvet, gathered to fit. Perhaps it had a matching lace, or lace and velvet, gown.

Front and back views of lace and velvet wrap. At some point it was stored over a hanger, which left a nasty creased line in the velvet.

Front and back views of lace and velvet wrap. At some point it was stored over a hanger, which left a nasty creased line in the velvet.

Paris was showing equally hard-to-wear open capes for daytime in 1925:

Couture by Molyneux and Patou, Jan. 1925. Sketches in Delineator.

Couture by Molyneux and Patou, Jan. 1925. Sketches in Delineator.

A Gold Lamé, Gold Lace and Metallic Bullion Cape

I do not have a photo of the front of this spectacular gold lamé and gold lace, cape/wrap with gold tassels and bullion fringe. It was awesomely heavy, very dusty, in need of restoration, but originally of very fine quality. (No label.)

Gold evening wrap, circa early 1920s. Gold lace is layerd over gold lame, with some heavy fabric (wool coating?) sandwiched between the outside layers and a pale green lining.

Gold evening wrap, circa early 1920s. Gold lace is layered over gold lame, with some heavy fabric (wool coating?) sandwiched between the outside layers and a pale green lining.

It has slits for the arms, an interior pocket, and buttons at the neck and chest. You can get some idea of the front from these details:

Detail of center front closing; the spirals end in heavy metal tassels.

Detail of center front closing; the spirals end in heavy metal tassels.

Tassels made of bullion fringe, like that used on the shoulders of military uniforms. shoulders.

Tassels made of bullion fringe, like that used on the shoulders of military uniforms.

You can see the slit for the wearer’s hands, and a bit of the Nile green lining.

V101 bullion fringe 72

My hand gives you an idea of the size of these tassels:

V101 tassel bullion 72

This is the base of the collar in front. You can see that there are two covered buttons on the yoke, between the collar and the decorative fringe trim.

Base of collar and yoke, which is hidden by the collar in back.

Base of collar and yoke. There are two practical buttons.

The collar, the top third, and bottom third of the cape are covered with metallic gold lace in a floral pattern:

Upper back, covered with metallic gold lace.

Upper back, covered with metallic gold lace.

Detail: lower back of cloak

Detail: lower back of cloak

In this pocket detail, you can see that the entire coat is covered in metallic lace, so that the subtle shine is continuous.

Pocket in lace covered-cloak.

Pocket in lace covered-cloak.

Inside the gold cloak: Sateen lining and a pocket.

Inside the gold cloak: Sateen lining and a pocket.

V101 back 500

Luxurious capes were still being shown in Paris in 1925:

Green velvet and brocade cape, 1925, from Olian's Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties.

Green velvet and brocade cape, 1925, from Olian’s Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties.

But coats with sleeves, much easier to wear, were becoming  more popular.

Butterick "coat wrap" 5621. December 1924. Delineator.

Butterick “coat wrap” 5621. December 1924. Delineator.

Butterick pattern 1086 is a close copy of a coat by Lucien Lelong. Nov. 1926, Delineator.

Butterick pattern 1086 strongly resembles a 1926 coat by Lucien Lelong. Nov. 1926, Delineator. Back and Front views of the same coat.

1926 nov p 50 evening 1086 text

See the Lelong sketched here, with a matching fur-trimmed shawl.

“Tricks of the Trade” Tip:  If you make a cape the simplest way, by gathering fabric into a straight neckband, the weight of the cape will pull against your throat. Make your cape with a yoke, so that the weight of the fabric hangs from your shoulders, not your neck. This cape has a yoke; this one doesn’t.

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3 Comments

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, Coats, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

3 responses to “Two Vintage Evening Wraps, 1920s

  1. Isn’t it strange when gorgeous but impractical designs become all the rage? Just how did women keep those capes on? And I wonder how many figured out a way to add fasteners even though it wasn’t the style.

  2. Christina

    The evening wrap in pics 8 and 9 looks like it originally had a deep collar maybe fur. Ties would have been attached and they are also likely missing. Almost all the evening wraps I have ever handled have had ties, button or hook and eye closures.

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