Free Pattern: Incroyables Tailcoat

Incroyables ensemble, ca. 1790-95
Incroyables ensemble, ca. 1790-95. Image: LACMA.

Happy quatorze juillet! For Bastille Day, here’s a pattern for an Incroyables tailcoat.

The tailcoat, which dates to Revolutionary France, was part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s 2016 Reigning Men exhibit, currently on view at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

Incroyables and Merveilleuses were the dandies and fashionistas of the revolutionary period. Today, Directoire style evokes glam rock, Marat/Sade, and John Galliano. The style famously inspired Galliano’s 1984 graduation collection, entitled Les Incroyables, as well as his work for Givenchy.

Adam and the Ants, Prince Charming (1981)
Adam and the Ants, Prince Charming (1981) Image: Discogs.
David Bowie 50th birthday distressed frock coat 1997
David Bowie at his 50th birthday concert, 1997. Image: Pushing Ahead of the Dame.
The Royal Shakespeare Company presents Peter Brook's motion picture "The Persectution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as performed by the inmates of the asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade, by Peter Weiss
John Steiner and Glenda Jackson in Peter Brook’s Marat/Sade © 1967 United Artists.
Givenchy Haute Couture by John Galliano, 1996. Steven Meisel / Grace Coddington
Linda Evangelista in Givenchy Haute Couture by John Galliano, Vogue, December 1996. Photo: Steven Meisel. Fashion Editor: Grace Coddington.

Here are the museum notes:

This handsewn silk tailcoat, with its high collar, wide lapels, short front, and long back exemplifies how French fashion extremists (incroyables) adopted and exaggerated traditional wool riding coats from England. The sleeves of this tailcoat, set unnaturally close together, forced the wearer to hold his shoulders back and thrust his chest forward to create a “pouter pigeon” silhouette which was fashionable in the late eighteenth century.
Detail, 1790s Incroyables ensemble
Detail, 1790s Incroyables ensemble. Image: LACMA.
1790s Incroyables tailcoat, back view
1790s Incroyables tailcoat, back view. Image: LACMA.
Back detail sketch by Thomas John Bernard
Back detail sketch by Thomas John Bernard. Image: LACMA.

Download the pattern here.

Note: Gridded pattern. Does not include seam allowance.

Length at centre back: 49″ (124.5 cm)

Notions: 14 1 1/8″ (2.9 cm) buttons for front and coattails; 6 3/4″ (1.9 cm) buttons for cuffs.

Harem Scarum

Pucci dice: affascinate lo sceicco (Sheikh) - Vogue Italia editorial photographed by Gian Paolo Barbieri
Pucci tunic and harem pants, Vogue Italia, January 1968. Photo: Gian Paolo Barbieri. Image: Pleasurephoto.

The early ’90s are back—and so are sarouel, or harem pants. Here’s a look at vintage patterns for this distinctive trouser style.

Like caftans, sarouel originated in ancient Persia. Persian sirwāl became Turkish şalvar, entering the Western fashion vocabulary via Ottoman culture and the early modern vogue for turquerie.

Tilda Swinton in 18th-century Ottoman dress in Sally Potter's Orlando
Tilda Swinton in 18th-century Ottoman dress in Sally Potter’s Orlando (1992) Photo: Liam Longman. Image: Pinterest.

Şalvar were introduced to Western women’s clothing in the 19th century as part of the Rational Dress movement: Amelia Bloomer conceived her eponymous trousers as “Turkish pants.” (On cycling bloomers see Jonathan Walford, The 1890s Bicycle Bloomer Brouhaha.) Couturier Paul Poiret is usually credited with making “harem” pants fashionable in the period before World War 1.

Bert Green illustration "The Harem Girl," 1911
The Harem Girl. Bert Green for Puck magazine, 1911. Image: Wikipedia.
Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) in her new harem ensemble. Downton Abbey, season 1, episode 3
Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) on Downton Abbey, Season 1 (2011). Image: Pinterest.

1960s

In the mid-’60s, harem pants enjoyed renewed popularity as glam loungewear. (I Dream of Jeannie started airing in September, 1965.) This Vogue pyjama with matching, dolman-sleeved overblouse has a cuffed trouser option:

1960s pyjama and overblouse pattern Vogue 6435
Vogue 6435 (ca. 1965) Image: Mermaid’s Purse.

Pucci’s interest in harem pants predates the jewelled version at the top of this post: a short, blue harem ensemble was part of his 1965 Braniff flight attendant uniform. These high-waisted palazzo pyjamas also have a cuffed, harem option, as worn by Editha Dussler:

1960s Pucci palazzo pyjamas and jacket pattern Vogue 1692 feat. Editha Dussler
Vogue 1692 by Pucci (1967)

Anne de Zogheb modelled these Pucci harem pyjamas, which feature an intriguing self-lined skirt with side openings:

1960s Pucci harem pyjama pattern Vogue 2094 feat. Anne de Zogheb
Vogue 2094 by Pucci (1969)

1970s

Bouffant knickers are a variation on the harem pant. This gold brocade, coat-and-knickers ensemble from Yves Saint Laurent’s Winter 1970 haute couture collection evokes the hippie trail. The model is Viviane Fauny:

1970s Yves Saint Laurent haute couture coat and knickers pattern Vogue 2501
Vogue 2501 by Yves Saint Laurent (1971) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

From 1976, this Kenzo pattern includes a cuffed harem pant option. (A copy is available in the shop.)

1970s Kenzo pattern Butterick 4793
Butterick 4793 by Kenzo (1976)

Hot pink harem pants catch the eye on this Very Easy Vogue pattern, which also includes palazzo pants and a maxi skirt:

1970s maxi skirt, harem or palazzo pant pattern Very Easy Vogue 9633
Vogue 9633 (ca. 1977) Image: Etsy.

1980s

This gold satin pair, from Krizia, has no side seams:

1980s Krizia pattern - harem pants detail - McCall's 7307
McCall’s 7307 by Krizia (1980) Image: PatternVault shop.

In the early ’80s, the dropped-crotch, Zouave style of harem pant came to the fore. This Simplicity pattern includes Zouave pants in two lengths:

1980s Zouave and harem pants pattern Simplicity 5538
Simplicity 5538 (1982) Image: Etsy.

The trousers in this Versace ensemble evoke the harem silhouette, with draped volume tapering to a fitted ankle (see my Versace post for more photos):

Early 1980s Gianni Versace tunic and draped pants pattern Vogue 2702
Vogue 2702 by Gianni Versace (ca. 1981) Image: PatternVault shop.

Very Easy Very Vogue got on the dropped crotch bandwagon with three styles of Zouave pants—view C with side drape:

1980s Zouave dropped-crotch pants pattern Very Easy Very Vogue 9591
Vogue 9591 (1986) Image: Etsy.

1990s

By the early ’90s, hip-hop musician MC Hammer had made so great an impact on popular culture that his characteristic trousers were known as “hammer pants.” Simplicity’s official MC Hammer unisex pants pattern came with not one but two iron-on transfers. (See envelope back here. There was even a doll clothes pattern for the MC Hammer action figure.) Drop-crotch pants could also be found as Butterick Classics and a unisex costume pattern.

Hammer time! 1990s official unisex MC Hammer pants pattern Simplicity 7455
Simplicity 7455 by MC Hammer (1991) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Issey Miyake designed these lowest of the low dropped-crotch pants, as worn by Phina Oruche:

1990s Issey Miyake pattern including dropped-crotch pant Vogue 1328 feat. Phina Oruche
Vogue 1328 by Issey Miyake (1994) Image: Etsy.

Recent patterns heralding the return of the sarouel include McCall’s 5858, Kwik Sew 3701, and the unisex Burda 7546. If the trend continues, perhaps we’ll see a pattern for Rachel Comey’s Pollock trouser…

Dancers from the robbinschilds company (Pollock sarouel pant), Rachel Comey Resort 2016
Dancers from the robbinschilds company, Rachel Comey Resort 2016. Image: Vogue.com.

And the Winner Is…

Detail from McCall Style News, January 1939. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

The results of my random number generator are in! The lucky number is 20, and the winner of my blogiversary giveaway of a choice of 5 PatternVault e-booklets is:

sewsable (the 20th person to comment—Rachelle of Warming crafts)

Congratulations, Rachelle! I’ll send you an e-mail with the details on claiming your e-booklets.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway. Thanks especially for all of your kind regards, suggestions, and feedback! The most-mentioned favourite post types/topics were the designer histories and vintage hats and accessories. You can expect more pattern history and millinery in the coming months.

As a thank you to all of you, I’m having a flash sale in my Etsy shop through this Sunday, July 20th—25% off with coupon code YEARTHETHIRD.

Detail from Vogue Patterns leaflet, December 1931. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.