One of the books I recently read was Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles. In the book there are many descriptions of the clothes worn by farm workers in the 1880s. I was taken with the description of young women in white summer dresses, and also one brief evocative mention of Tess in a pink jacket. I have searched for images from film and TV. The jackets here are really sturdy blouses, worn over other clothes but not really made for taking off. And in using light colours they were very much summer outwear.
Throughout the summer I have been thinking of making a close fitting jacket with obvious buttons, in a delicate shade of pink. I wanted a top that would go with my work trousers – summery, feminine and flattering. Generally I am not particularly keen on historic, Victorian looks as I am not keen on corsets.
What do I like about this look? Close fitting bodice based on a blouse, large, obvious buttons, clear waist line, light pink.
I want to marry this idea with a favourite Coco Chanel jacket. This is the jacket she designed and wore in 1937, long before the 1954 Cardigan jacket that she is more well known for. And although I have made the “classic Chanel jacket” (and I loved learning the techniques) I have barely worn it. With both my versions I added much more waist shaping as it is, essentially, a boxy jacket. And I feel, currently, that the French jacket is rather hackneyed and jaded and looks pretty dated, especially on an older lady (such as myself). Whereas the 1937 jacket is shapely, revealing the waist by a deep curved cut away at the front, which echos the flamboyant, curved lapels. The shoulders are padded but not excessively so – the sleeve heads also – probably with cotton batting. And I don’t know for sure but I think this jacket may be made out of linen. The jacket has three patch pockets – two lined up with the hem and a breast pocket that may be artfully misplaced. It certainly has a nice white hanky in it, and what looks like a couple of costume jewellery clips. The sleeve is particularly nice with a relaxed, fold back cuff – making it a bit shirt like. Although I expect this jacket is lined it looks very soft and unstructured. I wish I knew more about it! The fourth picture is, I think, of a different but similar jacket, constructed on this occasion without a revere, or collar. Summing up I love this jacket as it is shapely but not tight, a little bit drapy but also with enough of a character, light coloured (natural linen, or possibly wool or silk) with darker buttons, great pocket detail.
Finally I want to reference another great jacket – in some ways the greatest jacket ever – the Dior Bar jacket. This also has two iterations – the original post war New Look jacket has a very neat, petit shawl collar, whereas the later version has a more important notched collar. Both have a pronounced shoulder, a highly stylised tiny waist which is emphasised by significant padding to the hips. The newer version is buttoned to the waist. The natural creamy colour of shantung silk is matched with large but toning buttons. Like the Chanel jacket this one is invariably worn with a full black skirt. Again to summarise what I love about this jacket – light colour with a darker skirt, summery fabric, subtle but important buttons, waisted shape, nice high neck, softened shoulders. Although I love looking at this jacket I would not want to wear something that involved a corset – this jacket is heavy and stiff.
So I would like to make a jacket that is light weight, very soft and easy to wear, flattering, in light pink linen. The Chanel is pretty close to what I have in mind but now I will have to find both pattern and fabric. The only thing I am worried about is a previous attempt to make a jacket with high break. I didn’t care for it at all when I put it on. I have just noticed that Coco has her buttons undone to just below the bust. The jacket style that actually suits me is the third one – a single button simple, slightly shrunken jacket. I am going to have to give this some thought.
I have a couple of patterns that might work – but I would love any suggestions. Most patterns from the contemporary Big4 companies are very unstructured and drapey. Even Burda which are a bit more fashionable are not really talking to me. And also any good UK or EU linen suppliers? Thank you.