Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Essentials ~ Retro Rack Style ~ Double Breasted Peacoats

Despite the fact that here in ol' Nor Cal we're expecting 80 degree weather this afternoon (In November!) it is ostensibly, autumn. I like to do this style thing where I take a look at the trends on the catwalks and in the news and then break them down into something we top heavy vintage orientated types can latch on to. So . . . here we go!

Do you know why they are called double breasted? Because they double the size of your breasts. I've made no secret of my hatred of the double breasted coat, particularly a blazer or a peacoat. Not for the rack. I think most peacoat lengths cut the body at teh wrong point making my legs look stumpy and me look stocky, particularity in flats. Double breasted peacoats are almost always boxy cut in thick fabric, which adds bulk, weight, and attention to the rack. Add that to a wool allergy and I have never owned any kind of coat that remotely resembles this:

I always suggest us larger endowed go for single breasted whenever possible, it's just more slimming, but that's the next blog post. However, despite this general hatred I do own three jackets that are technically double breasted. I have this motocross punky plaid one which tailors in at the waist and has a big fat collar distracting attention upwards, a cape that has a sash waist (always good for the hourglass) and a steampunk cropped blazer that zippers up the middle, with buttons for show.

 Long neckline, good supportive tailoring in vertical seems, buttons close together and clustered, pocket details emphasize waist. Short length good with jeans or skirts.

So in light of this, I decided I was being too harsh on the double breasted peacoat and so here we go. How to to this style right for the Rack!

1. Choose a flattering jacket shape

I like a frock or princess cut. Avoid lack of waist definition, it'll just look frumpy. I tend to think darker colors are better on top.

 Bad for the Rack vrs. Good for the Rack

 Bad for the Rack (1894-1898 Raincoat The Metropolitan Museum of Art) vrs. Good for the Rack

2. Go for a belt

We hourglass shapes pretty much have to emphasize out waists or we just look shapeless. If you can find a double breasted pea-coat that belts, the problem is solved. The steampunk in me also happens to love military detailing. And, better yet, finding one that has the buttons that angle in at the waist to help add shape.

 Bad for the Rack vrs. Good for the Rack

 3. Choose buttons that are close together

I always try to opt for buttons that are smaller, closer together, and run the length of the coat. This gives the coveted vertical line illusions. Also, a smaller less bold pattern is good, if you want a pattern. A bold collar drawing attention up to the face and away from the Rack is even better!

 Bad for the Rack vrs. Good for the Rack

4. Get the right length

Generally the rule on pea-coats is the same as short skirts: look for a hem that falls just below finger when standing with arms dangling. If you are particularly petite, you can go shorter than that, especially if you tend to wear short skirts and tights in the winter. It's always more ladylike to have little bit of skirt peak out the bottom of the coat, so people know you're wearing something underneath! So consider what you'll be wearing the coat over as you consider length.

  Bad for the Rack vrs. Good for the Rack

5. Consider buttons for show

If you are very top heavy, like me, even a double breasted coat can do the gap thing over the breasts. If your are dead set on having those two rows of buttons, consider sourcing a coat that has a zipper doing all the work and keeping things smooth, and buttons only for looks. This has the added bonus of being quick to get on and off.

 Two good ones, cropped an pea coat length.

I hope these tips help if you are on the hunt for this particular trend. Next I'll cover a few other good jacket options for the Rack. But first, here's a peak at a vintage 1940's pea-coat that ticks most of the boxes.

Somethingfor the gentleman but which I wouldn't mind popping on tomorrow!

1830s Frock Coat  The Victoria & Albert Museum

And something for Prudence to wear in the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series

1897-1899 Suit The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. I love the look of double breasted coats but being top heavy and short statured, I seriously doubt I could make one work.

    Yet another reason to favour style of over fashion I guess. At least I can enjoy the look of them on others.


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