The Inverness Cape

drrobert

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Design for a modern-looking Inverness coat

Moderator's Note: In the course of the discussion about the demise of the hat as an essential element in gentlemen's apparel, a conversation began about the Inverness cape/cloak/coat. In order to keep that discussion from being lost among the postings on headwear, I thought it prudent to begin a separate thread on this subject. One can find the introductory postings as well as the discussion of what caused the disappearance of men's hats here.

As indicated by some of your posts, I believe that a modern-day looking Inverness overcoat would be a stellar addition to any gentleman's wardrobe. I can envision such a coat due to its uniqueness , its understated elegance, and quality of construction producing "double takes" for most viewers of that garment and individuals coming up to the wearer and pleading desperately to know "where did you get that overcoat?" I see the starting point for this coat beginning with Thomas Mahon's most recent copy of Victorian overcoat done in gray(see his website for a picture of this gorgeous looking coat) with truncated features for the cape portion lending a more modern flair of that overcoat . Perhaps there could be other features of such an overcoat that could be tweaked to look more modern and I would like to know what those would be. I would humbly ask Thomas Mahon or Chris Despos or any other competent designer to rough sketch or rough draft what they believe a 21st century looking Inverness coat would look like. If they or someone else can come up a design that will produce the effects on observers that I think would automatically follow from such a beautiful piece of tailoring, then I would be happy to go forth for such a bespoke overcoat and gladly make it my first official pictorial post for AAAC public scruitiny and commentary.drrobert
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sator

Honors Member
Patterns for an Inverness Coat

I would humbly ask Thomas Mahon or Chris Despos or any other competent designer to rough sketch or rough draft what they believe a 21st century looking Inverness coat would look like. If they or someone else can come up a design that will produce the effects on observers that I think would automatically follow from such a beautiful piece of tailoring, then I would be happy to go forth for such a bespoke overcoat

The tailors on the forum might like to confirm this but my impression is that it is much easier if you give your tailor a working pattern to cut off rather than getting him to draught a tricky garment from scratch. If you really are serious about it I would suggest going to one of those tailors with pictures of the completed garment along with the following patterns:

1. Louis Devere : The Handbook of Practical Cutting (1866)

https://imageshack.us

2. Vincent c.1888 quoted from Waugh, The Cut of Men's Clothes 1600-1900:

https://imageshack.us


You should sit down with your tailor and work out how to adapt the pattern to your measurements. You might also like to get Devere from Amazon as it has text describing how to cut the garment.
 
Last edited:

drrobert

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
To SATOR

Your illustration of an Inverness coat is a good place to start at, but I would want something more modernistic. Possibly it would mean the caped portions would be much shorter so that buttons would show more or it might mean a 12-18" flap on the back in gray wool with red lining that could be seen underneath the flap and then that flap just continues over the shoulder for maybe 10-12" and sweeps away from the top of the overcoat to reveal the shirt and tie underneath. Like anything else, as difficult as construction would be for this garment, the thought process involved in the design for such an overcoat is even harder. But back to your illustration, it certainly functions well as a starting off point which I hope that between myself and others will result in a design that would be worthy of Chris Despos or Tom Mahon or any other competent bespoke tailor of note. drrobert
 

Sator

Honors Member
Your illustration of an Inverness coat is a good place to start at, but I would want something more modernistic. Possibly it would mean the caped portions would be much shorter so that buttons would show more or it might mean a 12-18" flap on the back in gray wool with red lining that could be seen underneath the flap and then that flap just continues over the shoulder for maybe 10-12" and sweeps away from the top of the overcoat to reveal the shirt and tie underneath.

It's really up to your imagination and your tailor now. You can also see that the first pattern gives you options for a cape that is more or less full so obviously they made adjustments according to individual preferences back then too. I find it is a fine balance between wanting to maintain authenticity and modernising the garment to make it as wearable today as you can.

Maybe some of the tailors here can provide some input?
 

medwards

Honored Professor | Moderator, All Forums
Moderator's Note: In the course of the discussion about the demise of the hat as an essential element in gentlemen's apparel, a conversation began about the Inverness cape/cloak/coat. In order to keep that discussion from being lost among the postings on headwear, I thought it prudent to begin a separate thread on this subject. The previous four postings in the thread you are now reading were from that thread. One can find the introductory postings as well as the discussion of what caused the disappearance of men's hats here.
 
Last edited:

DougNZ

Elite Member
Inverness capes are still regularly worn by people in Scottish National Dress, particularly pipe bandsmen. These are mainly nylon to be waterproof, but some of the manufacturers make beautiful examples in wool, also.
 

Kav

Inactive user
This is a gut reaction and niether condemnation or approval for your project. I got to try on an Inverness, have a maker in the U.K. earmarked from an older post for one someday. Many garments, especially for outdoors have settled on dimensions and details because THEY WORK.
 

comrade

Senior Member
Probably 35 years ago J. Press in New York,
before they even had a street-level storefront,
sold Inverness Capes. I assume it was RTW,
although the garment could have been a sample
for their "custom" trade. In any case, one might
contact them. At the time, of course, Press
was a family-owned business and records and/
or patterns may have disappeared when the firm
was acquired by a Japanese(I believe) corporation
in the 80s.
 

WA

Honors Member
Capes are rather easy to make. Not much to them.

Decide what you like, how many buttons, if any. How long or short. Inverness means sleeveless coat.
 

Concordia

Elite Member
Apart from the antique-show value, does anyone have a sense of what the practical use of the Inverness might be?

It seems that the cape has some ability to deflect snow and rain that might otherwise cling to the back of a standard topcoat. But the wearer's suit jacket sleeves would be exposed, which is an obvious deficit in extreme weather.

Any other thoughts?
 

drrobert

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
To Concordia

Inverness capes can be purchased or designed with sleeves below the caped portion and therefore remedying your concern about exposure to the elements if such an Inverness coat did not have such sleeves for protection. Some would argue that an Inverness coat with sleeves below the caped portion is no longer a true Inverness coat. Perhaps medwards can give us the definitive answer as to whether an Inverness overcoat with attached sleeves is by definition still a true Inverness overcoat or not. drrobert
 

WA

Honors Member
Inverness capes can be purchased or designed with sleeves below the caped portion and therefore remedying your concern about exposure to the elements if such an Inverness coat did not have such sleeves for protection. Some would argue that an Inverness coat with sleeves below the caped portion is no longer a true Inverness coat. Perhaps medwards can give us the definitive answer as to whether an Inverness overcoat with attached sleeves is by definition still a true Inverness overcoat or not. drrobert

I believe if you add sleeves it would be another type of coat with another name. Or, several types of coats. Some Great Coats have one or more capes.

Sleeveless is for more freedom of movement.
 

Sator

Honors Member
I believe if you add sleeves it would be another type of coat with another name. Or, several types of coats. Some Great Coats have one or more capes.

It is then called an Ulster overcoat. The cape is usually detachable.
 

Mister Antony

Starting Member
Inverness Capes

I was contacted by DRRobert who suggested I may make a useful contribution to this interesting thread.

I have been involved in the manufacture of Inverness Capes for 25 years.
My company in Glasgow, Scotland is the only company worlwide which specialises in this product.

The Inverness style of cape is most definitely sleeveless. If it has sleeves then it is not an Inverness. As far as we know it takes its name from a Lord Inverness who once sported this style of garment. Differences in style can occur with the length of the top-cape which can either be made as a 'full cape' (see picture below) or as a 'half-cape' ( where the top-cape disappears into the back of the armhole ).



An Inverness Cape is a rather unique & versatile style of garment. It is most often worn as a special alternative to a heavy overcoat, by Sherlock Holmes devotees or traditionally with Scottish Highland Dress.

The most popular usage today worldwide of the Inverness style is by pipers & drummers in Bagpipe bands who wear Inverness Raincapes. The unique styling offers the wearer double-layered protection and complete freedom of arm movement. This allows the bandsmen to play without restriction while giving protection to themselves & their instruments. (see picture below)



The Inverness is also popular with other niche market users such as highland dancers, dogwalkers, hillwalkers, fisherman & shooters.




It is difficult to imagine that the Inverness style of cape could reappear as a more commonly worn type of everyday outergarment. The combination of top-cape & undercoat make it a relatively bulky garment which does not really fit in with the majority of people whose lives are lead in the ' fast lane '. Those whose lifestyle can cope with such a garment will find pleasure & enjoyment which will 'turn heads' over many years.

A healthy, safe & happy New Year to you all !

Antony M Mistofsky
Glasgow, Scotland
www.invernesscapes.com
www.misterantony.com






 

Goldrush

New Member
Casco Bay Wool Works advertises in the New Yorker, as I recall. Inverness capes, they're clearly not.

Their capes drape like they added fabric to the basic overcoat design. They look like the cuffs and seam insides blew out.
 

Kav

Inactive user
Prehistoric ( Oetsi) to historic ( Holmes) capes work in rain and snow mostly by deflection instead of repelling. Oetsi's reed cape naturally channeled rain and snow down by the tapering of the tightly threaded canes and channels. Wool, which can easily absorb 30% of it's own mass in water and remain warm and relatively watertight works by swelling tight and the drape. leather garments wick rain down the often present fringe also found on many wool and silk garments. All of these garments also offer the additional quality of silence. The rather loose, bulky cut also reflects this wicking phenomenon. If you've spent time in a tent or awning in the rain or snow, you know touching the walls will draw water through and create a drip point.The appearance of oiled, tarred and finally ( yech) plastic materials destroyed this quality of silence. Ask any horseman to tack up a fresh colt in a rainstorm after snap,crackle, popping up to him in the dark in some dayglo yellow thing.
 
Last edited:

Doctor Damage

Connoisseur
These capes are absolutely magnificent in tweed. I was once surprised to see a man wearing one in a local bookstore, and he/it looked great. To my eye, they sort of need a hat of some sort, for proportion, but this can easily lead to the Holmes references.

Loden might work better without a hat, than tweed.
 

jsprowls9

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
The tailors on the forum might like to confirm this but my impression is that it is much easier if you give your tailor a working pattern to cut off rather than getting him to draught a tricky garment from scratch.
Patterns are certainly appreciated with you have them. Especially when discussing historic recreations, or incorporating historic details into a modern garment. However, most tailors skilled in design and patterncutting could recreate any style from a clear photo.

For those who may not be interested in investing in references like Devere's you could try to convince your tailor to contact a costume shop, especially a university theatre. Or, check out your local library's interlibrary loan program for references, too.

From a style perspective, I doubt this garment will specifically turn heads; but, it is an interesting personal statement. If you want one, by all means strike up a conversation with a local tailor and see what he/she can do for you. Please let us know how this project shapes up for you.
 

Kav

Inactive user
The Inverness also enjoyed popularity in pre war Japan. Most were very formal black and sometimes sported fur ruffs. You could see a few still worn in San Francisco's Little Tokyo into the early 60s. There is a Jimmy Cagney movie set in prewar Japan. Cagney meets with a peace advocate member of the imperial family who is wearing one. There is a taste of traditional fun in these garments. An Inverness for Holme's fans, Duffle for mariners and desert rats, Ulster worn by Conway stepping forward to greet Chang in Lost Horizon and Spade in his Burberry. But a poly cotton pullover Anorak with AC/DC logo? Thats for skateboarders.
 
Your email address will not be publicly visible. We will only use it to contact you to confirm your post.

IMPORTANT: BEFORE POSTING PLEASE CHECK THE DATE OF THE LAST POST OF THIS THREAD. IF IT'S VERY OLD, PLEASE CONSIDER REGISTERING FIRST, AND STARTING A NEW THREAD ABOUT THIS TOPIC.

Deals/Steals

Trad Store Exchange