Woman in a Fur Coat, 1977

fur77What a prosperous looking couple! The man wears an expertly matched plaid suit, not easy to make, and the woman shows off a long fur coat with a wide notched collar. I might have been able to place this photo in the seventies from the pussy cat bow on her blouse, but luckily there was a stamped date on the back.

Traditionally fur was a status object for older women, a sign that they had achieved prosperity. “They seek to offset the creeping appearance of crow’s-feet and gray hairs by wearing more expensive clothes, bigger jewels, and flattering furs,” writes Patricia Millbank in New York Fashion. (202) One New York furrier who got started in the postwar error said that his standard customer was fifty years old and had received the coat as a gift from her husband. (Lisa Belkin, “For Thriving Furriers, Protests Pose Threats,” New York Times, 12/17, 1985.) Mink was the fur of choice. Those who couldn’t afford a full length coat like this bought fur stoles or coats with fur collars.

This woman looks confident in her coat, but anti-fur activists were already at work in the mid 1970s, trying to change fur’s reputation from luxury to “inhumane frivolity,” in the words of one Sierra Club member. (Blair Sobol, “Wrapping their Ills in Furs,” Los Angeles Times, 11/14/74) A decade later, she might have been worried about wearing her coat out on the street.

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2 Responses to Woman in a Fur Coat, 1977

  1. eimear says:

    i had 2 old beaver jackets and thru many house moves they ended up being given away – but i used adore them in the winter, so cosy, but they didnt really go with everything (it looked particularly dodgy when worn with a mini so i used really just wear them with jeans. I can see some of the issues around animal cruelty, and environmental etc (ireland now has some wild non native minks causing havoc since the 70s). but they were so warm and i justified it as they were from a charity shop etc. – and also, I dont know if you came across this one, Lynn, http://www.jennifergreenburg.com/revisinghistory/ – i found it charming

  2. Lizzie says:

    Milbank’s assessment seems to be a bit harsh!

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