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My mother has just adopted my sister-in-law’s great-grandfather’s greatcoat (so… probably 1910s-1920s?) for her own use. It is extremely warm, weighs a ton, appears to be indestructable as it shows no sign of wear, and was evidently tailored with considerable artistry. I found the insides very interesting to examine!

I’m very puzzled by a couple of features. The belt is secured by being sewn to the back, but there are also a couple of slits in the side seams of the coat in a position that suggests the belt is intended to pass through them – but it can’t, because apart from anything else the buckle wouldn’t fit! Moreover on the left side only, there is a second slit just in front of the first backed by a vertical buttoned flap on the inside. On the right-hand side, there is no such opening: instead, there is a semi-circular piece of stiffened cloth attached to the inside front edge of the coat with two buttons. I can’t even guess at the purpose of either.

I’m wondering if this could be a specialised military/uniform greatcoat (it’s double-breasted in grey wool), with these being left-over attachment points for some piece of equipment?

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    Dec 24, 2012, 01.29 PMby katexxxxxx

    Very likely. I have my father’s last No ! RAF uniform (circa 1976), made by Gieves & Hawkes of 1 Saville Row. There are features on this that you never see in a lounge suit of the same era, and techniques used that belong to an era further back than that… Sadly I don’t have his British Warm greatcoat. :(

    Oh, and if the cloth is a proper all wool heavy Melton (looks like very dense felt, with a woven core), then that stuff will last a couple of hundred years if you protect it from moths. There are a couple of coats in the V&A that show nary a sign of wear…

    One thing I particularly love, and have used, is the concealed belt loops for holding the belt in place without the loops showing on the outside.

    You may find there is a ‘secret buttonhole’ on the inside and that those buttons help to stop the double breasted front drooping. You frequently get buttons backed by a piece of canvas and another button on military clothing to help strengthen in areas of high use.

  • Missing

    Dec 27, 2012, 11.42 PMby mickeygirl

    there could be an opening for a sword.

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    Feb 1, 2013, 03.44 AMby harrietbazley

    Well, it’s not military (I assume) because it proves to have a Moss Bros label (in the usual place inside a pocket)!

    And the use of the semi-circular piece is to button across the throat when the collar is turned up. I still have no idea about the mysterious extra slit on the left side only….

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