Charles James

Silk velvet evening coat by Charles James, 1949

Today, instead of a painting or an illustration, we get to study a garment in all its — let me stare as long as I want — glory. Consider the lines and construction of this exquisite evening coat and then, imagine wearing it.

These days, most of us don’t get much glitz and glam in our lives. We save our snazziest outfits for weddings and once-in-a-lifetime celebrations. We put on lace and satin, embellished with beads and embroidery. We add sexy shoes and jewelry, then we strut out the door ready to peacock a bit. But, come on, even when we stretch to our limits, the clothes we choose rarely display the style and grace of clothing worn by the rich and famous in earlier times.

Think about stepping out of a limousine, dressed in this scarlet evening coat. Everyone in your circle of friends knows that Charles James, America’s most prominent couturier, has personally draped and constructed the wrap exclusively for you. It’s made of the softest, drapiest, most luxurious silk velvet you’ve ever felt. You extend your gloved hand to the handsome tuxedoed gentleman waiting beside you. Together, you sedately climb the stairs towards the brightly lit opera house. It’s a scene taken from an Audrey Hepburn movie.

The Met has an informative overview of Charles James and his importance as a designer here:

Click on the link to view a giddy romp extolling the importance of having “Style” by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby from the movie “Robin and the 7 Hoods” (Be patient, the video may take a while to load.)

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