Friday, February 23, 2018

Lilli Ann, 1949 Jacket: A Closer Look at Details and Dates in a 1940's jacket

Lilli Ann 1940s jacket in brown

Lilli Ann suit designs from the 1940's have a distinctly different silhouette from the suits produced in the 1950's. While the longer length skirt is a clue to the era a suit was designed in, often those have been altered to suit current styles. The jacket however will have significant details specific to the 1940's.  I'm slowly listing the best of my collection, and this jacket is a favorite of mine.  Here are some of the details that I think make it a stand out piece.

Lilli Ann jacket in brown, side detail

This jacket shows several elements unique to early designs and those from the 1940's. Probably most noticeable are the padded shoulders. On this jacket, the pads are about 1" thick at the shoulder edge. This creates an hourglass silhouette with a wide shoulder design.

Lilli Ann 1940s jacket in brown with petal collar
Lilli Ann brown jacket back view

The fitted hipline is another clue to the era. While this one has dramatic pleated pockets that seem to be draped in swags over each hip, the style is fitted and has a longer hem than later designs. These pleated elements are not lined, and they are actually light and soft, not tailoered or structured.

Lilli Ann 40s jacket front view, pleated pocket

The three layered petal collar enhances the shoulder width, adding a rhythm and texture to the upper torso. The jacket itself has a lowered top button location, fixed below the point of bust. Most often the first button is at the bust level, but here that is still open in the "V" neckline of this collar feature.

The jacket fabric is a deep chocolate brown (often lighter here in photos to show details more clearly). And the texture is a fine wool gabardine, a smooth finish that does not compete with the pleated pockets and layered collar.  The lining is a brown crepe, as seen here in the label photo.

Lilli Ann 1949 suit label

This Lilli Ann label can be found starting with this era in 1949 thought the late 1950's.

Lilli Ann suit with curved hem and petal collar

This Lilli Ann advertisement photo from 1949 shows several style details that are very similar to the brown jacket here. Most noticeable is the layered petal collar, the curving center front edge, and the two button closure. Clearly this suit jacket used the same design pattern with modifications to create the hip pleated pockets. Using this ad as a guide, it's probable that the brown jacket was designed and produced the same year, 1949.

Another example of a similar suit jacket can be found at "No Accounting for Taste" where a 1949 suit in jade green has a similar silhouette and hem curve with two button front.  In that example, the collar is an extended tuxedo or cardigan style, rather than the three layer petal version seen here.  By 1953, the petal collar style would be smaller, and the front would button up higher with four buttons instead of two, to create a more fitted bodice.

Read more about Lilli Ann designs from the early 1940's , late 1940's and 1950's and 60's to get a good idea of this label during that time.  Follow that with designs for specific jackets like this c. 1955 and this jacket from 1958,


LABEL: “an original from Lilli Ann of San Francisco”

UNION LABEL: Circle “National Recovery Board, Coat and Suit Industry”

Bust: no button, this is an open “V”, but bust is about 43” based on position of lower buttons
Top Button: 37” around when buttoned
Waist: Lower Button: 32: around when buttoned
Hips: open curved hemline, about 44” around when flat on table
Length, front: 29 ½” from neckline at shoulder, down to hem
Shoulder Width: 17” between armhole seams across shoulder seamline
Across mid-back: almost 16” across between armhole seamlines
Sleeve length: 17” long from underarm seam to wrist hem

This jacket is listed for sale at my shop: Pintuck Style on Etsy, where you will find other vintage fashions.

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