Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection


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Costume; Clothing; Main Garment; Coat


Wool, cotton


1894. Brown wool coat, three-quarter length, with large leg-of-mutton sleeves, full skirts, and large lapels, buttoning up the front, trimmed with scroll and leaf appliqué patterns cut from the same cloth and sewn in light brown thread.

The coat is cut with eight pieces running the full length of the garment: two front panels with a 27.9 cm / 11 in. long dart from the bust to past the hip where it curves into the pockets, two side panels, two side-back panels, and two back panels with a center-back seam. The coat has a sewn-in collar, relatively small and coming to a point at just 10.2 cm / 4 in. The upper section is constructed of two pieces with a center-back seam, and the under collar has four pieces. Large lapels emerge from beneath the front edge of the collar, measuring 30.5 cm / 12 in. long from center to outermost point. These are cut in one piece with the coat front, and faced with the same thick wool fabric as the coat; the facings extend all the way to the hem. There are four 5.1 cm / 2 in. long machine-sewn keyhole buttonholes and four 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. wide buttons closing the front. These have a metal core covered with a faux tortoise shell laminate. The very top of the coat closes at the neck with a large heavy-duty hook and eye.

The skirts hang straight at the front of the coat, with the front panels cut to fit in a slight curve over the hips. The fullness begins at the sides and comes from the pieces being cut with a flared shape. In back, the skirts hang in soft rolling folds. The center-back seam masks an inverted box pleat, and the back and side-back seams flanking this are overlapped. All the seams of the coat are pressed open except these back and side-back skirt seams; their finishing forms a sharp crease inside the coat that encourages the rest of the fabric to form a soft roll framing the center-back pleat.

As is common for sleeves of this era, there is only one underarm seam. The coat’s sleeves are very wide, measuring approximately 124.5 cm / 49 in. before pleating. They are eased into the bottom curve of the scye for 19.7 cm / 7.75 in. before being pleated into place at the sleeve head. There are two very deep box pleats at the top of the shoulder, then four knife pleats fall away to each side. The sleeves neck down to fit the forearm closely.

An intricate appliqué of Art Nouveau vines and leaves finishes the cuffs, hem, front opening, collar, and center back. The appliqué is made of the same material as the coat, its raw edges left unfinished, topstitched with a contrasting brown thread. The decoration becomes almost more of a raised texture than an obvious trim.

Only the front panels are lined, with a brown cotton. The rest of the interior is neatly finished with all seam edges bound with bias cotton tape. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.


Bust: 82.6 cm / 34 in.
Waist: 63.5 cm / 25 in.
Shoulder: 10.8 cm / 4 in.
Sleeve: 69.9 cm / 27.5 in.
Hem: 228.6 cm / 90 in.
Length (overall): 91.4 cm / 36 in.


Gift of Marcia Nason Sanders. Worn by the donor, likely as part of her wedding trousseau.

Museum Number



University of New Hampshire Library


Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator

Date Digitized


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


The Irma G. Bowen Historic Clothing Collection digital catalog was produced by the UNH Library Digital Collection Initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Mooseplate program and New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional funding provided by the E. Ruth Buxton Stephenson Memorial Fund.
Photography copyright, Astrida Schaeffer.


Women's coats, 1894, Durham, New Hampshire, United States, Wool, Brown (color), Gigot sleeves, Leg-of-mutton sleeves, Art Nouveau, Full skirts, Large lapels, Front-buttoning, Scroll and leaf appliqué, Light brown, Darts, Keyhole buttonholes, Faux tortoise shell laminate, Hook and eye, Box pleats, Knife pleats, Vines, Leaves, Cotton lining, Bias tape, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Nason Sanders (donor)


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