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.

Fur Cloth for Fall

Anne St. Marie photographed in Vogue 1019,
Anne St. Marie wears Vogue 1019 by Jacques Griffe, Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1961. Photo: Kazan.

Whether you call it fake or faux, this season’s fur trend is only fashion’s latest take on synthetic fur.

Many vintage sewing patterns call for fur banding and fur cloth. The reversible coat shown above, Vogue 1019 by Jacques Griffe, is fully lined with the latest black, synthetic fox fur. (Hover for full caption.) More recently there’s Donna Karan’s coat for low-pile fake fur, Vogue 1365, from the Fall 2012 collection:

Joan Smalls wears a faux fur coat from Donna Karan FW 2012
Model: Joan Smalls. Image: vogue.com.

Here’s a look at vintage patterns that call for fur trim or fur cloth, with an emphasis on the trendy, unusual, and outrageous.

1920s

From Winter 1926, this dolman coat by Martial et Armand has a deep fur collar and narrow fur banding at the cuffs:

1920s Martial et Armand coat McCall 4667 illustrated in the Winter 1926 McCall Quarterly
McCall 4667 by Martial et Armand in McCall Quarterly, Winter 1926-27. Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

This opulent, late 1920s evening wrap calls for a length of 4.5″ fur banding. A reproduction is available from EvaDress:

Late 1920s evening wrap pattern - McCall 5945
McCall 5945 (1929) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

1930s

Thirties patterns show many creative uses of fur trim. These two ca. 1933 coats both call for fur cloth accents. McCall 7206 has an attached scarf and contrast lower sleeves, shown in synthetic Persian lamb, while McCall 7207 has a deep fur collar and matching, triangular sleeve patches:

McCall 7206, 7207 Spring 1933 coats
Two coat patterns, McCall 7206 and 7207, illustrated in McCall Fashion Book, Spring 1933.

Simplicity 1541’s dramatic, curving collar and pointed cuffs can be made in contrast fur cloth; the fur-trimmed version was illustrated on the cover of the holiday 1934 issue of Simplicity Pattern Magazine. A reproduction is available from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:

Via eBay
Simplicity 1541 (1934) Image: eBay.

From the autumn of 1939, McCall 3420 is a swagger coat with built-up neckline and optional, tapered lower sleeves and semi-circular shoulder insets. View A is shown in faux Astrakhan (matching hat unfortunately not included):

1930s coat pattern shown in check or faux Astrakhan - McCall 3420
McCall 3420 (1939)

1940s

McCall 3875, a World War 2-era swing coat, can be made with elbow-deep fur cuffs:

1940 coat pattern - McCall 3875
McCall 3875 (1940) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

This wartime cape pattern, previously featured in my vintage capes post, includes an evening cape with stand-up fur collar:

1940s cape pattern in evening or street length - McCall 4134
McCall 4134 (1941)

1950s

High-end postwar sewing patterns sometimes assume natural fur will be used and direct the home dressmaker to a specialist. From November 1949, Vogue 1075 is one of the earliest Balmain patterns. The voluminous “melon” sleeves can be made in fur contrast; the envelope back says, “Note: Have fur sleeves made by furrier”:

1940s Balmain coat pattern - Vogue 1075
Vogue 1075 by Balmain (1949) Image: Etsy.

This Vogue Couturier design includes a wide-necked evening coat with big fur collar and elbow-length sleeves:

1950s evening dress and coat with fur top-collar - Vogue 190
Vogue 190 (1959) Image: Etsy.

1960s

From Nina Ricci, Vogue 1217’s cape has a broad shawl collar that can be made in faux fur:

1960s Nina Ricci dress and coat pattern - Vogue 1217
Vogue 1217 by Nina Ricci (1963) Image: Etsy.

Vogue 1897 is a design from Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 1967-68 haute couture collection, inspired by Queen Christina (see Paco’s post here). The fur-trimmed evening cape requires a taffeta stay for the fur trim unless made by a furrier:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent Queen Christina evening dress and cape pattern - Vogue 1897
Vogue 1897 by Yves Saint Laurent (1968) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

1970s

David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965) seems to have prompted a fashion for Cossack coats and hats. Vogue-Butterick had Vogue 1983, and McCall’s had this fur-trimmed coat pattern:

1970s red, fur-trimmed coat pattern - McCall's 2676
McCall’s 2676 (1970) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

There was even a pattern for fur hats for men, women, and children, McCall’s 2966:

1970s faux fur hat and bag pattern - McCall's 2966
McCall’s 2966 (1971) Image: eBay.

1980s

Eighties excess brought the more-is-more aesthetic to designs for synthetic fur. McCall’s 7736 is a raglan-sleeved jacket for lightweight fake fur or woolens:

1980s jacket pattern - McCall's 7736
McCall’s 7736 (1981) Image: Etsy.

From the Connoisseur Collection, Simplicity 7078 is for fake fur only:

1980s faux fur coat pattern in 2 lengths - Simplicity 7078
Simplicity 7078 (1985) Image: Etsy.

In addition to a hat and stole for fur-like fabrics, accessories pattern Vogue 9981 includes a muff with concealed pocket:

1980s hat, stole, and muff pattern - Vogue 9981
Vogue 9981 (1987) Image: Etsy.

1990s

The 1990s were another good time for synthetic fur—so good that Vogue Patterns licensed a designer specializing in faux fur outerwear. Not quite vintage, this reversible coat pattern by Issey Miyake calls for high pile fake fur:

1990s Issey Miyake reversible faux fur coat pattern - Vogue 2182
Vogue 2182 by Issey Miyake (1998) Image: Etsy.

From Alexander McQueen’s Fall 1998 ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy, Vogue 2228’s jacket has a fur-trimmed hem and large, standing fur collar that recalls the 1940s evening cape shown above. (See my earlier McQueen post here.) I have one copy for sale in the shop:

1990s Givenchy fur-trimmed suit pattern by Alexander McQueen - Vogue 2228
Vogue 2228 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1998) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2233’s fur-trimmed dress and jacket are from Anna Sui’s Fall/Winter 1998 collection (click to purchase from the shop):

1990s Anna Sui fur-trimmed dress & jacket pattern - Vogue 2233
Vogue 2233 by Anna Sui (1998) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2233 is one of the most ’90s patterns ever: Björk meets Britpop. The jacket was worn on the runway by Kirsty Hume—hat by James Coviello:

Kirsty Hume on the runway, Anna Sui FW 1998
Kirsty Hume, Anna Sui FW 1998. Image: firstVIEW.

There was also a pattern for Anna Sui faux-fur accessories, Vogue 7950 (see my earlier Anna Sui series).

Tips for sourcing synthetic fur

  • Tissavel: This luxury French faux fur mill is unfortunately now closed, but ends can be found on Etsy.
  • Faux Persian lamb/Astrakhan: Available as a special order from Emma One Sock.
  • Fur banding: Mokuba carries high-quality synthetic fur banding in various widths.

Working with vintage furs and synthetic fur

Vintage patterns often direct the home dressmaker to a furrier; old sewing books and magazines also provide tips for refashioning vintage furs. (Woman’s Day 5045 came with a special instruction booklet and fur needle.) Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide includes a chapter on fur.

For tips on sewing with synthetic fur, see Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide, Fehr Trade’s post, and Shannon Gifford’s post for Emma One Sock.

Rock the Caftan

Grès caftan by Irving Penn for Vogue, Sept 1963
“Arab déshabillé from Grès.” Vogue, September 1963. Photo: Irving Penn.

Caftans, long, loose-fitting tunics with origins in ancient Persia, have been gaining momentum as an alternative to more structured formal dress. With any luck, there will be some caftans among the goddess gowns at tomorrow’s Academy Awards ceremony.

They say Tsarina Alexandra was the first westerner to make a fashion statement in a caftan, when she dressed as a seventeenth-century Tsarina for a costume ball in 1903. Paul Poiret also advanced the caftan cause, but it was not until the 1950s that the garment really began to influence western fashion. Here’s a look at caftan patterns from the 1950s to now.

Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna as the 17th-century Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna
Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna as the 17th-century Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna. Photographed by L. Levitsky for the album of the February 1903 fancy dress ball at the Winter Palace. Image: Pinterest.
Tsarina Alexandra's Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna masquerade costume
Tsarina Alexandra’s Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna masquerade costume. Image: The Hermitage Amsterdam.

1950s

In the mid-1950s, Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga’s experiments with silhouette were partly inspired by eastern traditional dress. Dior’s Fall 1955 couture collection (Y line) included caftan-inspired ensembles—coats with high, side-front slits that reveal a slim dress underneath:

1950s Gruau illustration on the cover of Vogue Paris
A Dior caftan design on the cover of Vogue Paris, September 1, 1955. Illustration: René Gruau. Image: Librairie Diktats.
1950s Dior caftan-inspired designs in L'Officiel
Three designs from Christian Dior’s Fall 1955 haute couture collection. L’Officiel, September and October 1955. Photos: Pottier. Images: jalougallery.com.

You can see echoes of the Dior caftan look in contemporary sewing patterns like McCall’s 3525 and 3532, both from late 1955:

1950s dress and unlined coat pattern - McCalls 3525
McCall’s 3525 (1955) Image: Etsy.

McCall’s 3532, called a “slim caftan-and-dress ensemble,” was featured on the cover of McCall’s news leaflet and in the company’s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign.  According to the ad, the design is ideal for the season’s “Oriental” fabrics, such as silk twill and raw silk tussah:

McCalls March 1956 3532
McCall’s news, March 1956. Image: eBay.
Sunny Hartnett in a McCalls ad 1956
“Make the clothes that ‘make’ the woman”: McCall’s printed patterns ad, 1956. Model: Sunny Harnett; hat by Adolfo of Emme. Image: eBay.

A Vogue version of the Dior caftan ensemble, Vogue 8759, is available as a reproduction from EvaDress.

1960s

Caftans became popular in the 1960s in tandem with the increasing interest in eastern cultures. The Madame Grès version at the top of this post is cut on the bias, producing geometric seaming detail. The caption reads, “Coup of bias-work by Grès—because this piecing-together of bias angles is sinuous, stark, ravishingly Moroccan.”

This dress from Jean Patou by Michel Goma, Vogue 1699, has what the envelope calls a “caftan neckline.” The model is Beate Schulz:

1960s Patou caftan dress pattern - Vogue 1699
Vogue 1699 by Patou (1967) Model: Beate Schulz. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This circa 1968 Vogue caftan pattern has optional flexible trim:

1960s caftan pattern Vogue 7497
Vogue 7497 (ca. 1968) Image: Etsy.

Other patterns from the late 1960s and early 1970s also reference eastern dress. From 1967, McCall’s 9026 is labelled as an abba in two lengths. Abba is an alternate spelling of aba, commonly abaya: a traditional Arab garment, long, loose-fitting, sleeveless, and made from a single rectangle of fabric. (Today, caftans often function as abayat.) The model is Veronica Hamel:

1960s abayat pattern - McCalls 9026
McCall’s 9026 (1967) Model: Veronica Hamel. Image: Etsy.

Burnoose patterns were marketed as resort wear. A pompom-trimmed version of McCall’s 2377 was photographed for the cover of McCall’s Summer 1970 catalogue:

1970s burnoose pattern - McCall's 2377
McCall’s 2377 (1970) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Marola Witt models Simplicity’s burnoose in the July 1967 issue of Simplicity Fashion News. (Thanks to Mary of PatternGate for the reference.) The text promotes the design’s ‘Arabian’ exoticism: “be exotic in a JIFFY: … the burnoose, born in Arabia, brought up to date here”:

"Be exotic in a JIFFY." Marola Witt models Simplicity 7173 in Simplicity Fashion News, July 1967
“Be exotic in a JIFFY.” Marola Witt models Simplicity 7173 in Simplicity Fashion News, July 1967. Image: Etsy.

1970s

This Halston caftan pattern from McCall’s also includes a top and pants (you can buy yourself a copy from the shop):

1970s Halston caftan, top, and pants pattern - McCall's 3590
McCall’s 3590 by Halston (1973)

This flowing Dior caftan, modelled by Billie Blair, has lots of neckline detail, full-length sleeve openings, and pockets:

1970s Christian Dior caftan pattern feat. Billie Blair - Vogue 1346
Vogue 1346 by Christian Dior (1975) Model: Billie Blair. Image: Etsy.

Vogue 1515 by Nina Ricci is a caftan that’s open in front and attached at the neckline to a handkerchief-hemmed underdress:

1970s Nina Ricci caftan pattern - Vogue 1515
Vogue 1515 by Nina Ricci (1976)

1980s

It’s harder to find post-1970s designer caftan patterns. This wide-sleeved, Oscar de la Renta caftan is trimmed with contrast bands. When worn, the side seams swing forward to raise the hemline in front:

1980s Oscar de la Renta caftan pattern - Vogue 1027
Vogue 1027 by Oscar de la Renta (ca. 1983) Model: Alva Chinn.

1990s

From Issey Miyake, Vogue 2315 is a caftan-inspired summer dress:

1990s Issey Miyake dress pattern - Vogue 2315
Vogue 2315 by Issey Miyake (1999) Image: Etsy.

2000s

Caftan patterns started making a comeback (of sorts) in 2009. Simplicity 2584, a caftan-inspired tunic by Cynthia Rowley, is out of print but still in demand:

Cynthia Rowley dress or tunic pattern - Simplicity 2594
Simplicity 2584 by Cynthia Rowley (2009) Image: Etsy.

Ralph Rucci’s floor-length caftan, Vogue 1181 (now out of print), has an abaya silhouette and interesting construction details—overarm darts, shaped lower sections, and a hook and eye above the low neckline:

Chado Ralph Rucci caftan pattern - Vogue 1181
Vogue 1181 by Chado Ralph Rucci (2010)

The design is from Chado Ralph Rucci Resort 2009:

Rucci Resort 2009 caftans
Two caftans from the Chado Ralph Rucci Resort 2009 collection. Model: Alexandra T. Images: style.com.

Matthew Williamson’s short caftan, available as a free pattern from the Guardian, is also a 2009 design:

A caftan look from Matthew Williamson's Spring 2009 collection. Photo: Jason Hetherington
A caftan look from Matthew Williamson’s Spring 2009 collection. Photo: Jason Hetherington. Image: The Guardian.

And Heather Lou’s printed chiffon caftan is a Fashion Star pattern by Nikki Poulos, McCall’s 6552 (now out of print):

Nikki Poulos caftan pattern - McCall's 6552
McCall’s 6552 by Nikki Poulos (2012) Image: Etsy.

Would you sew a caftan?

Phina Oruche

Phina Oruche in "Hush" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 4, episode 10)
Olivia Williams (Phina Oruche) in “Hush” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 4)

“Hush,” one of the strongest and spookiest episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, stars a model-turned-actor who appeared on Vogue patterns in the mid-1990s. Giles’ girlfriend Olivia is played by Phina Oruche (b. 1972). Born in Toxteth, Liverpool to Nigerian parents, Oruche was a successful model in London and New York before she won her first role in Sydney Pollack’s remake of Sabrina (1995).

Phina Oruche on the cover of Essence magazine, September 1992
Phina Oruche on the cover of Essence magazine, September 1992. Image via Phina Oruche.

Here Oruche models Vogue 1328, Issey Miyake’s jacket, top, and hammer pants:

1990s Issey Miyake jacket, top and pants pattern - Vogue 1328
Vogue 1328 by Issey Miyake (1994) Image via Etsy.

Vogue 1344 is an ensemble consisting of a top, high-waisted pants, and jacket with custom closures from Anne Klein II:

1990s Anne Klein II pattern - Vogue 1344
Vogue 1344 by Anne Klein II (1994) Image via Etsy.

Here Oruche shows off the lace-up back of Vogue 1353, a summer dress by Betty Jackson:

Vogue 1353 (1994)
Vogue 1353 by Betty Jackson (1994) Image via Etsy.

Ornate trim highlights the seam detail on Vogue 1354, a top and skirt by Geoffrey Beene:

1990s Geoffrey Beene top and skirt pattern - Vogue 1354
Vogue 1354 by Geoffrey Beene (1994) Image via Etsy.

Just for fun, here’s a recent portrait of Oruche by Paul Jones:

Phina Oruche. Imaage via Paul Jones.

The Gentlemen are coming…

Phina Oruche in "Hush" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 4, episode 10)
Phina Oruche in “Hush” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 4)