Friday, August 7, 2009

Lilli Ann Suits: the late 1940's, Vintage Suits with Fashion Flare

Popular vintage fashion, Lilli Ann suits from the 1940’s show style trends of that era. Fitted waistlines and peplums to the hip level were part of most jacket silhouettes. Jackets could sport double breasted buttons with wide bishop sleeves. Other suits were styled with tie belts or sashed like belted tunics.

Wide skirted coats with buttons down the full length of the back were seen, a men’s wear inspiration from the 1800’s. Wide flared peplum jackets that stood away from a narrow mid-calf length skirt grew in popularity.

Fur was often used to trim jackets. Wide sleeves of fur are shown worn with a slender skirt. $50 to $60 was an average suit price during the mid-1940’s.

After WWII, some ads show Lilli Ann suits being worn for weddings, instead of a long white wedding gown. This was a popular trend at a time when the expense for a gown was considered too high, and a new suit would be a wardrobe investment. As a special part of the bride’s life, many suits from this period are with us today, well cared for and neatly stored for decades.

Schulman actively promoted Lilli Ann’s company image as being a provider of elegance and high fashion wool suitings from San Francisco. Company advertising conveys the target customer as being a perfectionist who is sophisticated and smart.

California as well as San Francisco are mentioned in many of the advertisements in the 1940’s. Drama is also promoted within these ads. During this era, buttons and trims were produced by Lidz and H. Pomerantz & Co, and are listed in the ad copy as a significant trim. Celanse acetate linings were also advertised during this time.

French (Blin and Blin) and other European wools were imported by Schulman after WWII as part of the rebuilding efforts. This fine fabric became important in his campaign to promote Lilli Ann as a luxury suit line. Suits from the wools were priced from $70 to $80.

As the post WWII ‘New Look’ took hold, the Princess style of coat became popular. Lilli Ann coats had wide shoulders and narrow waistline over a full skirt for several years. As 1950 neared, a more slender silhouette would enter the scene, replacing wide shoulders with unpadded ones. The narrowing of shoulders would introduce the slender suit, so popular during the 1950’s.

(This is the second article in a series posted on Lilli Ann. The first article was posted on July 20, 2009. )