Fashion and the military look: it’s a permanent fling.
Classic lines, authenticity, distinctiveness, the whiff of romance… and let’s not forget function. These clothes keep their promises. Swoon.
Hidden in the inside pocket, this coat’s fabulously utilitarian label indicates it’s West German, 1960s. My good friend and German to English translator Adam Ramsey tells me "Altenkessel – Saar" is the location of the manufacturer “Werner Mahlberg”.
I picked it up at my local Oxfam shop for £5 (in international currency, the price of two Starbucks lattes). Yes, I am rather smug about that.
I have spent some time imagining a colourful history for it, but I suspect it was army-surplus. Un-issued. No derring-do has been done.
In soft grey wool with a full satin lining, it’s tapered at the waist and surprisingly small. Eye-catching on a boy but jaw-dropping on a girl, especially one with an hourglass figure and pepper-red lipstick. The enemy will surrender; willingly.
When Emily Kitchin married Mr Arthur Turner Waite in September 1878, she wore this dress. They took their vows at St Mary’s Church, Scarborough. The dress is cream satin; a very expensive bridal gown.
The fitted bodice has no buttons at the back. There are long princess seams, a tailoring technique just introduced by Charles Frederick Worth.
And that's all I know.
The rest of this post? Guesswork.
It must fasten at the front, like a coat. And it's not one dress, but two.
Most of what you see is the satin over-dress, but those ruffles and pleats are another garment entirely, an under-dress.
Two layers gloriously entwined in a notched hem. Like a cog wheel, this is the detail to note: are we looking at a Victorian bridal gown here, or a steampunk costume?
Repeated on every edge and in miniature at the cuffs, these notches reveal the accordion pleats and lacy cuffs beneath. It’s not clear if the cream-over-coffee tones are by design, or the effect of time. Either way, I love i…