Wrapped in Fur

These fur scarves, wraps, or boas (I’ve seen many different names) were a terror to me as a child.  My grandmother had one and I was convinced that she was wearing an entire dead animal around her neck.  Since then I have learned that the heads and claws weren’t real and were often artfully disguised clips. The pelts were made from many different animals.  I’m not sure this information would have made me feel better at the time.

This style of fur had a long fashion lifespan.  First popular in the 1920s, there was another revival in the 1940s, continuing into the following decade.  I date this photo to the period from late 1940s to the early 1950s, given the slim-waisted peplum suits.  Their outfits are similar but not identical.  The larger woman on the left wears a fuller skirt, while her slimmer companion has a straight skirt with a front slit.  Their wraps are not the same either.  The woman on the right has a more elaborate version, with two big tails.

What do you think about vintage fur?  People used to be afraid to wear it, but isn’t it a better option than faux fur made of polyester? If you have an old fur piece and don’t want to wear it, consider donating it to an animal shelters.  Little furry animals love to snuggle in something that feels familiar. (I thank my sister, the animal lover, for this tip.)

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10 Responses to Wrapped in Fur

  1. eimear says:

    I used have 2 ‘vintage’ beaver jackets and loved them. one I gave away a long time ago as the second was a better cut. I then donated the second one about 15 years ago as I wasnt wearing. I wish I didnt as it was really warm – but it didnt really seem to suit me at the time….. The charity shops here rarely sell donated fur as there is a possible back lash seemingly, lovely idea tho to donate to shelters.
    One friend of mine is very happy with a few vintage furs wraps she has and does own a fox stole….. must check the detailing now you mention that this could be faked!

  2. Lizzie says:

    Those fake animals always give me the willies when I encounter them in antique shops. I understand the wearing of fur in the past, especially in really cold places, but why would anyone want to wear what appeared to be a dead creature around her neck?

  3. squeakytiki says:

    I have a couple of vintage furs like this, and I love wearing them when possible. If anyone says anything to me about wearing them I point out that my fur is vintage and that technically I’m recycling. I also point out that my vintage fur is pretty much 100% biodegradable, unlike the plastic faux fur they sell now.

  4. JS says:

    I probably wouldn’t buy a new fur out of guilt even if I could afford one, but most faux fur is awful. What is the point? I have a mink stole inherited from my mother who got it from her mother. It’s not in perfect shape and I’d look ridiculous wearing it. I’m not sure what to do with it. Maybe I will give to the cats.

    I remember the wraps with the little fox heads. They used to freak me out as a child too.

  5. Norah says:

    People have made knitting patterns for these scarves with the fox biting its tail:


    The first is sort of realistic, as it’s made with “fun fur”. The second is more of a cartoon fox.

  6. bellneice says:

    My grandfather’s final girl friend (he was much in demand after my grandmother died) had fur coat made of Nutria. It was a gift from her husband, and she was so proud of it. She was especially proud that it was not a type of fur that was common.
    Nutria is a water rat – and to me, it looked like a coat made out of water rats before I even knew what a Nutria was. To each his own…..

  7. Nann says:

    My mother had a mink scarf with the heads and paws. It was creepy and fascinating. I have no idea what happened to it.

  8. Susan says:

    These fur “pieces” were almost ubiquitous in the 1930s (and after,) which made me wonder how so many women could afford them. The answer — apart from such tricks as calling dog fur “Manchurian wolf” — was explained well in A Perfect Fit: Clothes, Character and the Promise of America by Jenna Weissmann Joselit. In a review of her book, I wrote:
    The chapter on fur and feathers is very interesting, and answered a question that had been in my mind: How was it possible that photos of the 1930s — the Great Depression — showed so many ordinary women (like secretaries and typists) wearing furs? The answer illustrates the problem of unintended consequences: to eliminate the cruelty of steel-jawed traps, fur farming was encouraged as a more humane solution. “In 1917, there were only four fur farms in the entire United States; by 1930, there were more than forty-five hundred.” This drove down the price of furs — and millions of animals were raised for slaughter.

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