The luxury item every woman wanted in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s was a fur coat, especially a mink coat. Fur was a status symbol popularized by the actresses of the day. Glamorous stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, and others wore fur in their movies, and were photographed attending gala events wrapped or adorned with furs.
Besides mink, muskrat, fox, raccoon, beaver, squirrel and rabbit were commonly used to make coats, capes, and stoles. From the end of World War II through the 1950s the popularity of furs soared and became an important accessory for the fashionable woman.
Growing up, I remember watching the rerun of an “I Love Lucy” episode from 1951, The Fur Coat, with my mother in which Lucy doesn’t want to take off a beautiful mink coat even to sleep. I also liked to pet the furs my mother brought with her from New York which mainly stayed in the closet. I was especially enamored with a little scarf-like stole with a head with a mouth clasp that clipped onto the fur.
In present day, the wearing of fur is controversial, and is more likely to bring the wearer scorn than admiration. Animal rights organizations have brought the realities of the cruelty of the fur industry into the public’s consciousness. Synthetic fur became available in the 1950s and is an alternative that is being used by some designers.
What do you think today’s coveted fashion items are?