Strange Fur Pieces from the 1920s

Photo by E. F. Foley via

The undated photo above shows New York governor Al Smith and his wife Catherine in around 1925, judging by the length of her skirt.  That would make Catherine, born in 1875, just about fifty here. This photo makes me reassess my unflattering comments about 1920s styles and the older woman.  As we can see in this photo, Catherine didn’t have much of a waist indentation.  The dropped waist, hip oriented, styles of the twenties must have been very comfortable for her to wear.  She was a stylish dresser, judging from all the photos I have seen.  I wonder how she adapted to the more waist-centered styles of the next decade.

But my fascination here is with her fur piece, an accessory that was all the rage in the 1920s.  Usually they were made from foxes or minks, but she appears to be wearing an entire raccoon around her neck. Shaped like a live animal, it looks like it was created in a taxidermy shop rather than a furrier’s salon. Did it scare off little children?  It certainly would have scared me away.

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3 Responses to Strange Fur Pieces from the 1920s

  1. Nann says:

    My mother had a mink “scarf” that included heads and tails. The beady glass eyes were creepy and fascinating.

  2. Judith Rickard says:

    “All the rage in the 1920s” – ????? While growing up three decades later, in the 1950s, I remember my grandmother still regularly wore her mink “scarf”.

    Like Nann says, “creepy and fascinating” – especially the little clip taking the place of the mink’s lower jaw. My grandmother’s scarf also still had the legs and paws. Shudder.

    I’ve never seen a full on racoon scarf, though.

  3. susan snow says:

    I don’t see anything remotely attractive about wearing a dead animal around your neck. It is creepy, eyes and all. But then think of the platform shoes in the seventies. Everyone falling off theirs and breaking their ankles! Fashion can be pretty silly.

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