THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

February 9, 2008

Paris Calling, Circa 1957

Filed under: Fabric,Fashion,Inspirations — phyllisc @ 11:51 am

Front viewBack view

Now that I have a proper dress form, I can show you one of my prize pieces of fashion.  This coat belonged to my grandmother; she bought it from a department store called Pomeroy’s in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania sometime in the late 1950’s.  The coat has a Pomeroy’s store label, and the fabric label reads Cashmere “400”, 100% Virgin Cashmere, Country Tweeds” and is ink-stamped with a 6-digit registration number.

During the 50’s better department stores had made-to-order clothing departments, and I think that’s where this coat came from.  It’s really beautiful and has many interesting features that I thought you’d like to see. The lining is mushroom grey beige silk crepe.  The coat wraps across the front and closes with a large self fabric button on the front and ties with a matching petersham ribbon on the inside.Back yoke

Much to my delight, a while ago I found the inspiration for this coat: the back of the coat, and especially the gathered detail on the yoke, is identical to a Balenciaga dress from 1957 found on page 542 of Fashion: A History from the 18th to th 20th Century.  Interestingly, the Balenciaga dress originally came with a matching coat according to the caption, and evidently, like my coat, the front of the dress wraps across the front and attaches with a self fabric button as well.

I wear this coat a few times a year and it fits me perfectly.  It’s in excellent condition too, which is a testament to its fine construction. They really don’t make them like this anymore do they?



  1. What a lovely coat, and how nice that you can wear it!

    Comment by Nancy (nanflan) — February 9, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

  2. Oh Phyllis! It’s wonderful! Thank you so much for posting the pictures. All the details are just too perfect.

    Comment by Summerset — February 9, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

  3. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I’m sad to see the local department stores gone along with their unique items.

    Comment by Cosmos — February 9, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

  4. They sure don’t make those anymore. It seams everything nowadays it made not to last on purpose. For consumers to consume even more. Still there is so much talk about durability and environmental friendly thinking. It’s sad. Beautiful coat though! Thanks!

    Comment by Linda — February 10, 2008 @ 3:36 am

  5. Great coat. When I was growing up, Syracuse and Binghamton, NY both had local dept. stores that had made-to-order depts. The Addis Company in Syracuse was especially known for their beautiful clothing. It’s nice to know that Wilkes-Barre, only 60 miles away from me here in Binghamton, was able to provide such beautiful things for its customers.

    Comment by Toby Wollin — February 10, 2008 @ 11:24 am

  6. I love this coat … I have one similar in style to it from Hot Patterns, the Cheery Blossom coat. I stopped working on it as the proportions seemed off to me (or on me). I do think that your wider collar is more flattering than the pattern I have, though. If I had the extra fabric, I’d recut wider. I do like the gathered back yoke. That is an element I don’t have in my coat.

    Comment by Lorna — February 10, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

  7. Phyllis.- Very interesting how this coat. I wish that conserves many years, always will be a model “unique”. I know the Balenciaga dress which you refer. It is published in the book “History of Fashion” by the Institute for clothing Kyoto, page 532. Wonderful. Greetings . Paco

    Comment by Paco Peralta — February 11, 2008 @ 7:42 am

  8. Gorgeous coat and fabric. Quality in design and content always lasts, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Bunny — February 12, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

  9. My mouth is hanging open. That does NOT look like a 50 year old coat. It is, however, a testament to the notion that quality beats quantity. Lucky you!

    Comment by Meg — February 14, 2008 @ 7:10 am

  10. What a beautiful coat! Folkwear has a similar style, called, I believe, The Spectator Coat. I’ve been wanting to make it in cotton velvet for years now — you have re-inspired me.

    Comment by Lainie — February 15, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

  11. Great looking coat!!!

    Comment by Linda L — February 16, 2008 @ 11:44 pm

  12. Thank you for sharing this piece of art with us, Phillys! It’s fantastic and very inspiring! It’s a timeless garment!

    Comment by Tany — February 17, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

  13. Just wondering what the cost of this coat was, back then! With the price of Cashmere today!

    Comment by Gemma — February 20, 2008 @ 11:06 am

  14. […] Separated at Birth February 21, 2008 Filed under: Designer Inspirations, Phyllis, Vintage Sewing — phyllisc @ 8:58 am Our good friend from Barcelona, Paco Peralta, sent me this photo of the Balenciaga dress that inspired my vintage cashmere coat. […]

    Pingback by Separated at Birth « The Sewing Divas — February 21, 2008 @ 8:58 am

  15. Hi Phyllis,
    I’m just “meeting”you and your wonderful blog for the first time. I hope you wear this beautiful coat over your wonderful red and black dress. Both are works of art. Thank you for keeping the art of couture alive. We have a wealth of everything to choose from, on the surface, but the depth is missing in so many places. I’d rather have one coat like yours than five lesser creations. Perhaps, with the rise of conservation and the ecology movement, the disposable society will die out, and people will want to create clothing that lasts once again.
    I can’t imagine what a cashmere coat like that would cost today, but you can’t beat natural fibres for warmth and good looks. Thanks for sharing your piece of family history with us.


    Comment by Sue Whelan — February 25, 2008 @ 11:58 pm

  16. I found your site by searching for “Cashmere 400 100% virgin cashmere Country Tweeds.” I have a coat that had belonged to my mother which has that label as well as “Ivey’s of Asheville” a department store at one time quite prominent in NC. I had guessed the coat would be from the 1950’s and am glad to see a similar referenceed garment. My coat is black and more of a “swing” style. Fortunately my mother kept many of her clothes in good condition and I am enjoying them so very much. Two years ago I was able to wear for my son’s wedding the silk jacket dress that my mother wore as mother-of-the-bride to my wedding. Only the crystal buttons needed to be replaced as I could not find a replacement for the missing one. Many guests thought I was wearing a dress specifically designed for my son’s wedding. Another piece I especially enjoy is a lightweight black silk “duster” coat. It is a perfect dressy evening wrap. I have enjoyed reading about your grandmother’s coat very much.

    Comment by Carol Spence — December 9, 2008 @ 11:00 am

  17. Carol– if you are still looking for more 50s style wedding coats, I’d recommend looking through some of the vintage shops on I was able to find some adorable old style dresses that way, for my flower girl and bridesmaids. Maybe it will help.

    Comment by Marie — August 25, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

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