Project: Vogue 4036, Jacket (1959), part 1

Readers,

Every time I look at this large-collared, boxy little late ’50s jacket the word “demure” comes to mind, and I don’t know why. Demure is not a style I’m after. There’s just something about that collar.

Dressed for lunch at the Chintz Room at the Lazarus department store, Columbus, Ohio, 1959. I hear the chicken salad is excellent.

Dressed for lunch at the Chintz Room at the Lazarus department store, Columbus, Ohio, 1959. I hear the chicken salad is excellent.

Here’s another word that pops into my head about this jacket: “suburban.” That’s a 1950s suburb I’m thinking of. Again, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the easier fit–not the early or mid-1950s closely fitted silhouette with the more formal feel–paired with that easier hat. This jacket looks just right for a midweek lunch out at a finer department store. After a morning of shopping, of course.

This plaid is more vivid in person than this photo conveys.

This plaid is more vivid in person than this photo conveys.

I have no ambitions to sew outfits for midweek lunches at finer department stores, and yet I’m so curious about this jacket that I’m going to give it a go. It may be that this sassy greenish yellow and bittersweet chocolate plaid wool blend just cried out to be made into Vogue 4036, for the sheer contrariness of it.  I’m curious whether “demure” will go right out the window when this plaid sashays in. I would hope so.

I realized recently that this jacket my mom made–I’m guessing it also dates from the late ’50s–bears more than a passing resemblance to Vogue 4036. It’s boxy, and has a prominent collar, and is made up in a very undemure plaid. I love this plaid.

A jacket my mom made, probably in the late '50s.

A jacket my mom made, probably in the late ’50s.

I don’t recall this jacket, but maybe I do have some residual memory of it lodged deep somewhere.

This jacket has princess seams, which I like. Maybe I can track down the pattern.

This jacket has princess seams, which I like. Maybe I can track down the pattern.

I have enjoyed the skirt I made up in this fabric. Would a matching jacket be too much?

I wear this skirt with a very textured, bracelet-length sleeved sweater from Banana Republic.

I wear this skirt with a very textured, bracelet-length sleeved sweater from Banana Republic.

And then, that collar shape. Would it look smart on me, or…hopelessly demure? I’m not getting enough feedback from my muslin to tell.

Is this collar a good one for me? My muslin didn't answer this question.

Is this collar a good one for me? My muslin didn’t answer this question.

Why don’t I just cut out the collar from the plaid and try that first? If the shape, texture and colors look fine, I’ll go ahead and cut the fronts. How do they look with the collar? Too busy–or good? I have high-contrast coloring that might handle this amount of color and pattern fine.

I bought these vintage buttons in Greenwich, England. Would they work well?

I bought these vintage buttons in Greenwich, England. Would they work well?

It may sound perfectly sensible to you, and you may have already been doing this for years, but I’ve never thought of cutting only a few pieces of a pattern to try. It’s the trap of either-or thinking: either my fabric stays intact but never used, or it’s hacked up and misused.

There is another way, I have to remind myself. If I don’t like how the collar looks, or how this much pattern looks next to my face, I would still have yardage to use for a different application. I like that.

A bit hard to make out the lines of this jacket from the illustration. It has set-in sleeves, center back seam, and a vent. (I'm eliminating the vent.)

A bit hard to make out the lines of this jacket from the illustration. It has set-in two-piece sleeves, a center back seam, and a vent. (I’m eliminating the vent.)

One of my sewing teacher Edith’s sayings is “Don’t commit before you have to.” She was actually referring to making a slashed pocket in a jacket front, but her point can be more widely applied. Don’t take an irreversible course as long as you can have the option to reverse.

Test small before testing big.

That sounds just right.

From my mom's reipe clippings: the famous chicken salad from the Chintz Room at Lazarus.

From my mom’s reipe clippings: the famous chicken salad from the Chintz Room at Lazarus. Love that “gay trim of red apple paring”!

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6 thoughts on “Project: Vogue 4036, Jacket (1959), part 1

  1. Paula, I think this collar that has you questioning the direction would look great on you and in this fabric! Demure in the context of the era is less than flattering and definitely not your expression. To me a jacket of this era, with a prominent collar, such as this one, is anything BUT demure. It is a power suit of the times. The collar is exaggerated and bold. With your physical stature, it is just a matter of scaling it proportionately to your frame. Maybe not as wide, and the points not quite as long, but not too much shorter, it is the points that give the jacket power and presence. I think you are definitely on the right track with this one, and the collar has given you concern, but it is more about doing it correctly for you without compromising the design of the jacket. I look forward to see how it works out for you.

    • Wow, Shelly, your perspective is very helpful! I will try the original collar size first, scaling it down if needed–but it might not. The pocket flaps are also biggish, I noticed, both in length and height, contributing to a certain look. Okay–I will give this a go!

  2. I’m not sure that you will wear the jacket that much, but I would love to see it sewn up in that glorious fabric with those perfect buttons. And who knows, maybe you will have lots of opportunities to eat lunch out after you move!

    • Oh, I just might wear this jacket a lot. If it turns out well, I’ll set myself that challenge!

  3. I agree with what Shelly says…this was the power suit of the times…think Mad Men! And maybe the “demure” effect comes from the styling with the gloves, shoes, hat, and pencil skirt. I’m not much of a stylist myself, but I have been trying to see items in a different light. You tried this with a jacket a while back with interesting results.
    I love the lines on your mom’s jacket…hope you track down the pattern! It looks like an empire line of which she did a great job matching the plaid.
    Your plaid and buttons will “make” your jacket. Looking forward to seeing your work.

    • You’re right, Marguerite–I could create a different look with this jacket using different coordinates. I’m not nearly as practiced as I’d like to be with styling. I suspect that will be my next frontier, especially after we move to Columbus and I’ll be only minutes away from my photographer and partner-in-fun…

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