When I showed how to style a vintage frock coat (tailcoat) on Instagram for the first time, I received a lot of comments that made me realize how incredible this piece still is in the current common imagination, although it is very rare to see it worn, except for specific ceremonies, and almost uniquely by men.
Nevertheless I feel that this is such an iconic piece also for women, especially when we think of Marlene Dietrich who used to wear it with a top hat and who made this type of coat wearable also by women who wanted to re-create her masculine style in the same feminine way.
But if we look at the story of this piece we can see that it was not a glamourous piece at all! The frock coat (which is originally from the French redingote) was born at the end of the 18th century for a typical countryside wear: it was in leather or wool and was inspired from military coats, with more or less the same shape that we know nowadays and it was conceived as a comfortable and functional piece. It was Lord Brummel (the first real dandy) who started using in as a glamourous piece, in navy blue with a large white tie at the beginning of the 19th century.
It starts its “career” as an elegant menswear piece only during the 19th century when it starts being worn by elegant men, at night, in black and with a white shirt changing a little bit its shape (shorter tails, tighter waist and collar). During the 20th century, especially after the Second World War it becomes the perfect piece for ceremonies and gala events even if mostly considered as a typical male jacket.
This is the reason why it is very hard to find a vintage frock jacket for women or at least that can fit a women body. This is also the reason why I have looked for it for so many years before finding my perfect frock coat. As I said on Instagram some time ago, it happened by chance and thanks to the precious help of Madame Ilary who found this perfect piece for me some time ago!
I know that it may feel hard to wear but believe me, it is not if you style it just like you would do with a normal blazer.
I am showing here two different alternatives to wear a vintage frock jacket:
- The easiest way, with a vintage Levi’s 501, a white tee and a pair of lovely handmade flats (from Le Funky Mama)
- The more difficult way (but really lovely in my humble opinion!), with a gingham black and white circle skirt (and its amazing tulle petticoat…what a piece! Both handmade from Madame Ilary), a white printed tee and a pair of statement sandals (these beige mules with feathers are gently provided by Madame Ilary herself).
Which one would you “dare” to wear?