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How much did a fur coat cost in 1940?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by pauline, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. pauline

    pauline Registered Guest

    Recently I have seen loads of 1940's photos shoots and so often the model been wearing a fur of some description, and in most cases that been taken with a steam train in the background.
    great photos etc but I cannot help thinking that the average lady would not be able to afford to wear a fur as a every day coat.
    I do know my mother always wanted a real fur coat and she was in her twenties in the fifties and it was not until 1980 when she could afford to buy a fur coat.

    So to sum up were fur coat affordable for the average lady in the 40's ?
  2. Pauline, fur coats - as you can tell - were a luxury. I remember my mum really wanted one too, it seemed to be a sign of Dad's love (or lack thereof) and she eventually got on in the '70s. After she died, I was sad to see that it wasn't a real fur coat, just a faux and I'm sure mum knew it too.

    So: yes, they were expensive. How expensive depended a lot on what sort of fur, and what sort of quality but there was probably a big second hand trade for them too.
    sewingmachinegirl likes this.
  3. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    I would say that too. My 1947 mail order catalog has one rabbit fur coat and one jacket of the same and one mouton coat, which is the most expensive piece of clothing in the catalog. And these were I would say probably the least expensive furs of them all - they wouldn't have been able to sell anything more expensive. This is a Jelmoli catalog, which was your normal middle-of-the-road kind of thing I would say. They sold pretty much everything.
    The mouton coat cost 390 Swiss Francs, the rabbit fur coat 290 francs. Simple rayon day dresses sold for as low as 35 francs, and woolen day dresses went for 60 to 80 francs. A rayon wedding dress is advertised for 59 francs! In the 1946 magazines I have from the same year, there is always a page full of small ads, people selling things etc., and there are always a few to sell a fur coat, so that ties in with Nicole's assumption.
    One of those magazines also has an ad for a bed linen trousseau - "6 pieces of everything" - for 390 francs.

  4. MissRita

    MissRita Guest

    Fur coats were indeed expensive and a f/l mink could run you the cost of a small house. Mink stoles were the cheapest and in the ads I've seen these ranged from $200 -$300 in the mid-50s, the equivalent of $2-3,000 today.

    I can't remember the name of the film but it was from the mid-30s - a woman walked into a fur salon and pulled down a f/l mink, the shop clerk told her it was $3000 or $50G today. In an I Love Lucy episode from 1951, Ricky brought home a mink coat (Lucy thought it was her anniversary gift but it was for his show) priced at $3500 or $31,000 today. By the 1980s, fur prices actually decreased but so did the quality.

    When I first started selling vintage, I was astonished to see how much more clothing in general used to be. I've had dresses from the 60s and 70s with price tags of $15 to $30, you can buy dresses cheaper today in fact. Of a lot of wedding headpieces I found from the 60s, most were priced between $15 and $70 which is $80 t0 $300 today. Don't know whether to praise or curse mass production!
  5. It's very true Rita - when I do my talks on the history of fashion, I always mention how much more expensive clothes were in the past. I worked in the fashion industry in the '80s, back when most clothes were made locally and a good skirt suit would cost $800-1000.

    Now you can't even buy the materials for what you can get a whole dress made up in China.
  6. Linn

    Linn Super Moderator Staff Member

    There are full length fur coats in the 1930's Sear's catalog - not mink but lamb and marmot from $39.50 -$79.00 cash! There are fox fur jackets in the Sear's catalog offered in 1941 for $74.50 and $54.00. Fur trim is offered on full lenghth winter coats in 1944 and 3/4 coats in ocelet and red fox are available in 1946 for $89.00 and $125.00. I have not checked what they would cost today.

    I'm not sure I agree about clothing being more expensive in the past. I think (good quality) clothing and particularly accessories are more expensive today than in the past - even figuring for inflation- but so is everything. I don't remember a good suit being anything like $800.00 in the '80's unless it was "designer." You could buy nice quality American made suits/separates and dresses for much less than today- and shoes and handbags- even imported designers bags and belts were far less.

  7. I have two new with tags early 1930 Karacul full length coats and the original price at around 300.00 ea. A mother and daughters.
    That was a lot of money when most low and average paid wage workers brought home $25.00 a week, if that.
    Most average people did not have the means for luxury goods during the 30s and 40s.

    Oh and the mens suits that came from the same estate were mended and remended.

    The price tag for the smaller one is below.

    Attached Files:

  8. MissRita

    MissRita Guest

    Wow Suzanne, those are pretty crazy prices for that time! I have a few men's aloha shirts from the late 60 to early 70s which were priced at $25 - $29 or over $150 today. Though I've never been to Hawaii I daresay a common shirt made in China costs even remotely that. In looking through advertisements, shoes and purses haven't increased as much as garments however, you can buy a pair of shoes at Payless today for way less than what they cost in the past. In 1920s ads I found, shoes ranged from $2 to $5 or close to $70. An average pair of shoes at Payless would run you about $30 or less with their BOGO promotion. I don't factor in "quality" because most goods are manufactured in Asia including those from designers/brand names today and this is the very reason we're not paying past prices.

    If you average in inflation, we're paying considerably less for clothing today and it would seem the same applies to couture. I read a couture Chanel suit today runs into the $20G+ range but when I was researching a blog, I found an article about Jackie Kennedy which reported the average suit was over $10G in the 60s or almost $75,000 today. Yikes!
  9. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    I have no resource right now to check how much those 1940s prices I mentioned would be in today's money, but I think it would run in the same direction as the dollar prices mentioned here - that clothes were a lot more expensive than today. There's an ad for tinned meat in one magazine, and the average price for one tin is like 1.50 francs.

  10. MissRita

    MissRita Guest

  11. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    Rita, thanks! Sometimes I just don't know what term to google... I found one for Swiss prices. That 390-franc mouton coat would cost 1900 francs today - that's about the same in dollars.

  12. colleen rose

    colleen rose Registered Guest

  13. colleen rose

    colleen rose Registered Guest

    in the 50's I bought a new 3/4 length Silver Fox coat from a wholesale furrier in Los Angeles for $400.00.
    Retro Ruth likes this.

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