Friday, December 9, 2011

The Muff: From Victorian Times to Today by Gail Carriger

So, I have often encouraged the concept of a cape. But even more daringly vintage is the idea of a muff!

I've got three muffs, and I will admit I don't wear them often. One is a big puffy black one, modern, with an internal zipper, which I do use for the occasional cold-weather event.

Then I was doing some research into the 1976 fashions, for Timeless, and read a little blurb in Cunnington about the wrist muff's brief rise in popularity. Right about the same time, I spotted this little fur darling in a thrift store for a cool $15. I figured the fates were telling me something.

You can sort of see me wearing it in this picture (with Pat & Terry at SF in SF)

My third muff is one I made for myself, it's wine and black and designed to go with a 1850's ballgown and a 1878 walking ensemble. It was the single hardest thing I have ever had to sew, because I wanted to do an internal zipper. 

So muffs have been around for a very long time, and I thought I woudl present to you an image retrospective of their history. I hope you will indulge me?

Massive fur muff with an 18th century cape via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Feather muff from the early 19th century via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dyed fur muff from 1855-1857 via The Victoria & Albert Museum

1882 Lillie Langtry in Flower by Napoleon Sarony with a matched fur and fabric muff.

 1885 Carriage Ensemble  Mme. Uoll Gros The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I love carriage dresses, this one has a little velvet bow wrist muff.

 1889 matched velvet muff on a gold chain, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1890s ermine set from The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and 1890s Caroline Reboux feather and fur muff via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fantastic velvet lace and sating 1894 muff with Carriage Ensemble from Worth via The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
Have I mentioned how much I love carriage ensembles? Love them.

Lillie Landtry getting older, but still a fan of the muff.

Creepy fur muff with eyes, 1910-1915  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Super chic 1930s black and white set from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Perfect for a little blck, white, or red suit.

And a 1940s set from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Muff with a maxi-skirt in this 1971 Ensemble worn by Barbara Streisand by Arnold Scaasi 
via The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

So there is your brief retrospective, muffs were around for a very long time. Just so you have an idea that they can be modernized, here are a few from contemporary times.

Elle Canada October 2011 fashion shoot, 2011 F/W runway shot

A few more images of self cavorting with my muff, taken by J. Daniel Sawyer.

Just don't wear you muff like this, please!

1964-1966  The FIDM Museum

That's all for this week my darlings, copy edits almost done. Here's hoping you all have a very fashionable weekend!


  1. I used to have a fake fur muff as a child. I loved that muff. I used it whenever I could get away with it. I miss it.

    I should try and find another muff. I like them a lot better than gloves.

    Also, want to see one I think is creepy? this one Donna Lethal posted on her blog. A white rabbit fur muff with a baby doll's head called Princess Perfect.

  2. At least, I think it's a muff. It sure is muff shaped.

  3. Before now, I'd only ever heard about muffs in context with Little House on the Prarie books. I was always a bit confused about what they were when I was younger - I think I confused them with the word muffler and thought that it went over the mouth!


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