Instead of buying something new, Fashion Revolution are encouraging fashion lovers everywhere to write a love letter to a piece in their wardrobe that is truly hard working and carries a heartfelt story beyond the brand or the trend. I’ve decided to write my #FashionLoveStory about a vintage jacket handmade by my great grandmother that remains one of my favourite things to wear. Here, I explore the tale of this faux fur and silk kimono jacket with my mother, and we reminisce about the history of fashion told through our own family.
This jacket was handmade by my great-grandmother Iris Merle in around 1952, when she was in her early fifties.She was very poor but dressed like she was rich the keep up appearances, making her own clothes rather than buying from big brands, travelling on work as a journalist around the world which was very unusual for a woman in the 1950’s. When Iris died, she passed the jacket on to her daughter-in-law Peggy (my grandmother) who wore it a lot, until it got forgotten about and retired to the back of the wardrobe.
My mother Leah then rediscovered it in the mid-late 1970s and combined it with her punk revival look; it was very trendy then to wear hand-me-down clothes, especially from the 50’s, a la The Slits – pretty clothes with chunky Dr Martens boots, mixing items from the Birmingham Rag Market with items from old jumble sales. My mum wore it with slashed drainpipe jeans, black dr martens, and very spiky hair and far too much eyeliner.
Moving into the 80’s and 90’s, the jacket was sadly forgotten about again, but remained well looked after even after Peggy passed away, until I discovered it on the coat rack again at the age of 14 and totally fell in love. After all, the vintage revival was back again in a big way so I felt like the coolest kid in school, and I would wear it to gigs and parties around Birmingham.
The inner material is faux silk procured on a trip she took to China, and the outer lack fake fur procured in America. The sleeves are 3/4 length as the jacket would always be worn with long kid leather gloves, usually adorned with pearl buttons during the 50s and 60s. What I really love about it though is that it is fully reversible with no visible seams, so it’s very versatile and adaptable.
I’m so surprised at how good quality the jacket has remained; there is only one bald patch in the fur at the collarbone, and a couple of small cigarette burns, from one too many nights out across all four generations. My mum claims its never been cleaned, which is kind of gross, but it’s nice to think that it retains its original smell and feel, alongside the wonderful story it holds.
What’s your fashion love story? Rather than buying new, fall back in love with the clothes you already own. Share your story, or write a love letter about an item of clothing that means a lot to you! Head over to Fashion Revolution to find out more or click here to read my post about how bloggers and vloggers can help promote the ethical fashion movement together!
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx