I am a huge vintage nerd, especially for mourning ephemera dating from about the early Victorian era to the 1950s. I’ve even had portions of my collection shown in a (small) museum. The ritual of mourning attire is something that fascinates me, as it’s something we have largely abandoned in our modern times. I love clothing that has a story, that hearkens to a bygone era or fantastical concept (which is probably why I do what I do for a living).
Recently I spent the day shopping with my friend in a variety of vintage shops and we happened across the most beautiful 1940’s velvet jacket I’d ever seen! There was much polite “well, if you aren’t going to buy it” back and forth between us until the sales lady offered me a deal and I snatched it up (there goes my grocery budget for the week, sigh).
Part of the thrill of acquiring new antique clothing and ephemera for me is the research, sussing out the story behind something. So not long after figuring out what minor repairs this piece needed I set about researching it.
The tag inside says “Evalen Originals New York”, which was a company that produced a lot of evening wear with beading in the late 1940s. This jacket is made of black silk velvet and is cut in the “swing” style popular from about 1945 to the early 1950s. It’s longer in the back, has structured shoulders, and lovely draping sleeves. Guessing by looking at similar pieces by this label my jacket is likely from 1947 (give or take).
It’s got beautiful black braided details and jet beading, jet being used for mourning jewelry and clothing detail almost exclusively.
Inside of the lining are three embroidered initials- BJC. They are the same style that my grandmother had inside of her mink wedding stole, which dates from a little earlier than my jacket. I love the little embroidered initials, they remind me someone owned this jacket first and cared for it enough to mark it with her name.
Wearing it makes me feel like a very decadent 40s femme! I can’t wait to wear it to a book reading in February (outfit photos then hopefully)! 🙂