In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Clothing Collection

Outerwear 1900-1930

Astrakhan collared cape, ca. 1903
Astrakhan collared cape, ca. 1903Maine Historical Society

The domestic industry’s now prolific silk fabric production made all kinds of different silk garments and trimmings available, and relatively affordable, including silk coats. In 1907, Portland's newspaper advertised ladies long straight double-breasted silk coats with wide gathered shoulder sleeves. Described as a Jumper, a $3.50 black silk coat was marked on sale, priced at $1.98, and a similar looking satin lined black taffeta coat, called an Eton, was reduced from $5.98 to $2.98. Full sleeves of the same style are found in the collection's three-button black satin coat, and in a collarless red wool coat trimmed with silk cord scrolling and silk covered buttons.

The collection's early twentieth century outerwear and coats also include a 1907-1910 long straight edge-to-edge collarless beige silk and wool evening coat with typical early century cream silk cord patterning down the front, and long silk ribbon neck ties; a 1902-1903 dark red wool three-quarter length astrakhan collared cape embellished with a stylized vine pattern of black silk cord; a 1910 full length tailored four button cream cotton summer (possibly motoring) coat with blue velvet collar, lapels and cuffs; of a later date, a light, loose, collarless black silk coat with a button tab detail yoke, patterned woven silk braid trimming and long tasseled silk neck ties; and a 1920s short straight fur lined edge-to-edge coat of contemporary multicolored Chinese brocade.

A circa 1920 black silk velvet kimono-style evening coat is an example of the new unstructured fashions—different from western, fitted, tailored dress—that emerged after Sergei Diagilev's Asian-inspired costumed Ballets Russes burst on the Paris scene in 1909, and later toured the United States.