12 March 2010

I want that coat: a costumer's journey.

Well, folks, as per my own personal usual, I have another project I've given myself: a new coat.

I love movies, television and miniserieses (miniserie? miniserum? miniserieses.) so much that I've fallen in lust with a few completely different coats. Living in Minnesota means I can never have too many coats, so it really only makes sense that I put forth a little time and effort to making my own. (In case you were wondering: a brown trench, a navy blue peacoat, a grey overcoat, a black overcoat, and a black and red ski jacket.)  I don't plan to be done until next fall or winter, but it's a good idea to get started now.

I'm starting with evaluating my favorite coats for what I like best. I've decided to exclude Malcolm Reynolds' Browncoat not because I don't like it, but because he's a boy, and I really love tailoring details. No worries, folks - some of my favorite detail of the Browncoat show up in some of the following, too.

This coat is from SyFy's "Alice", released near the end of last year. It looks absolutely gorgeous and comfortable, and, in the context of the story, it's a gift from Hatter to Alice, so it's kind of a big deal.
What I like about it:
- deep color: That purple is beautiful.
- fabric: It's very clearly velvet.
- cuffs: These wide and turned cuffs match the style of the coat beautifully.
- trim: The trim of this coat matches, but is a different texture, and highlights the edges of the coat quite nicely.
- buttons: I love huge buttons.
- flare: The bottom flares out a bit, allowing for a skirt.

This coat is a different Alice - Tim Burton's iteration, played by Mia Wasikowska. (Minor spoilers ahead.) This is the coat from the ending scene of the film, in which Alice is an explorer here, building upon her experiences in Wonderland. It's that same light blue color we're used to seeing on Alice, but its length, collar and style clearly state that she'll be standing on the deck of the ship, no matter what the weather.
What I like about it:
- collar: It's not the huge Elizabethan stand-up, but is instead that little bit of "just enough" and would easily accomodate a scarf.
- clean lines: The tailoring of this coat is GORGEOUS. It almost looks as if it has some corset style construction in the main body of it, and fits her body really well. It seems to follow the same lines as a "paletot," a type of mid-length coat from the mid-1800s.
- length: Long enough to cover a dress, short enough to stay off the ground. "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" indeed.  Also, the front appears to be slightly shorter than the back.
- flare: Following along with the 1800s nature of the costuming, the bottom of this coat clearly accomodates a skirt.
- buttons: Lots of 'em. They provide another clean line down the center.

Yeah, I went there. Kahlen from the "Legend of the Seeker" series. Say what you will about the show itself, but DAMN is the costuming fantastic! I knew I loved Kahlen's coats within the first fifteen minutes of the show.
What I like about them:
- hood: The hood is voluminous and fantastic. When up, it frames the face. When down, it forms the lapels and highlights the back of the coat.
- closure: Not buttons or a tie, but lacing and buckles.  I'm a big fan of the lacing on her white coat.  It's a lot of fun, though I think it would annoy me if I had to lace and unlace my coat all the time.  If I had a belt with a buckle like that to keep my coat closed, however...
- fabric: It does not matter if she's wearing her thicker green traveling coat or the thinner white Confessor's coat, the draping is absolutely fantastic.

This last coat is from another obscure source: NBC's "The 10th Kingdom", from the golden age of meniserieses in the late 90s. Virginia, the main character, wears this coat through most of the show. It's not talked about or even really mentioned at all - it's simply her constant and silent companion as she journeys through the Nine Kingdoms. I've been stuck on this coat for ten years.
What I like about it:
- buttons: They're huge, and they look to be vintage or handmade.  Who can go wrong?
- lapels: I'm stuck on the wide lapels, and the big buttons frame them really nicely.
- collar: It's very similar to the Alice the Explorer coat from above in that it's "just enough" of a collar. 
- liner: I adore this liner.  It's gorgeous.  It's like a little secret that the coat would love to share with you, but you had damn well better earn it.  It's like the bright orange liner in the Joker's purple coat from "The Dark Knight."  I'm not the only one who noticed that, right?
- trim: This coat, like the SyFy Alice coat, has a defined trim to it.  Instead of being the same color as the outer, the trim mirrors the color of the liner and provides just a bit more to the coat itself.
- fabric: Wonderful.  Looks to be a wool blend, mostly a grey-blue, but it does have hints of that burgundy from the liner.

Based on my favorites above, I've come to the following conclusions:
- fabric: A wool or wool blend or something tweedy, in a deep and rich color.  No, I haven't decided which yet, but I have ideas.
- collar: A little bit of stand-up like the Alice the Explorer coat.
- lapels: Wide, but able to come together to close up the coat.
- tailoring and trim: Trim in a complementary color, tailored to fit over a sweater underneath.
- flare and length: Thigh length with a bit of skirt flare to it.  I like having a coat that drapes.  Though I really love the swoop in the Alice the Explorer coat.
- liner: A fun and complementary color.  I have some wine-colored wool/lycra blend at home that is calling to be used for a project like this.
- cuffs: I love having turned-up cuffs.  I've never had them on a coat before, but I'd certainly love to.
- pockets.  Not really mentioned above, but a coat's got to have pockets.
Most of these ideas are the complete opposite of the Kahlen coats, so I'm considering making a Kahlen-styled cloak for use primarily at the Renaissance Festival, though with the ability to be used in the "real world."

Pattern Source Ideas:
Simplicity 3628 - Several styles of tailored jackets.  (I like the red one and the purple one.)
Simplicity 2581 - Long length, 1920s style historical coats.
Butterick 4954 - Historical pattern, pelisse style.
Vogue V8465 - I don't know why I'm so drawn to this one... but I am.
Butterick B5425 - Just about perfect.

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