Late teens into early 1920s boiled wool smoking jacket in a heathered loden grey from Brooklyn’s legendary Frederick Loeser & Co. department store is smartly doublefaced in plaid wool.
The loden grey, celadon, and brick contrast plaid facing provides rich interest at the shawl collar, turnback cuffs, and three patch pockets, all of which are elegantly trimmed in black silk cord. And to keep the cozy-yet-slightly opulent vibe going, the jacket closes with two black silk frogs.
Smoking jackets or house coats (the terms were used interchangeably into the 1920s) were worn through the mid- and late Victorian era as a luxurious at-home replacement for a man’s suit coat and were hugely popular for holiday gift-giving. Trend-setter Prince Edward wore a smoking jacket as streetwear in 1895, establishing a precedent for the later emergence of the Jazz Age’s extravagant dinner jackets. The price range for wool smoking jackets in the early 1920s ranged from $6 to $20 (roughly the equivalent of $80 to $220 in today’s currency).
Some Edwardian doublefaced wool smoking jackets were fully reversible; though this example is not, it is beautifully finished both inside and out, with welted seams and bound edges, even at the armscyes.
The label, attached to a band of cotton backed silk at the inside collar, reads “Frederick Loeser & Co., Brooklyn”. The company began in the mid-nineteenth century and in 1887 expanded into a monumental, 5-story store on Fulton Street decorated like a fine hotel and equipped with modern wonders such as elevators, electricity, and telephones; it remained in business until going bankrupt in 1952. Photo #8 shows an illustration of the block-long department store in 1910, as well as nearly identical doublefaced wool smoking jackets in the 1917 Sears catalog. There are several pieces of clothing from Frederick Loeser & Co. in the Met Costume Institute, including a c. 1920 striped wool women’s coat in a very similar colorway to this jacket.
Measuring chest 35”, waist 35”, shoulders 16”, sleeves 23”, and length center back to hem 30.5”, this handsome smoking jacket is in excellent condition with one ½” break to the cord trim on the collar edging at the left shoulder (photo #7).
Proud Member of the VFG Vintage Fashion Guild