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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Fur coats: the status symbol
for women in mid 20th century Britain

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Fur coats, 1940s-50s

Various fur coats. Screen shots from old films.

Fur coats were status symbols for women while I was growing up in the in the late 1940s and 1950s, although my mother never had one. They must have been hot things, but nevertheless out came the fur coat, almost whatever the weather, for all events where people would be meeting one another at special occasion events.

The status extended to the type of fur, probably for no reason other than that fur from some animals was more expensive to harvest than from others.

Mink seemed to be the most expensive, and 'a touch of mink' was often used to describe a woman with money. When fashions changed, expensive furs were taken to specialist tailors to be remodelled.

A fox fur, died black; face and snout of the fox are clearly visible.

A fox fur, died black, photographed at Brooklands 1940s day when visitors were invited to wear period clothes. The face and snout of the fox are clearly visible; the face of the wearer is blanked out to preserve her privacy.

Rabbit was at the other end of the scale, and one of the nastiest things anyone could say about a woman was to talk about her 'little bit of rabbit'.

A group of women at an event in the 1950s, all in their fur coats, the 'uniform' of a well-dressed woman.

A group of my relatives at a special occasion in the 1950s. They would have considered themselves improperly dressed without their fur coats.

Fox fur was particularly common, even to the extent of having the fur from the fox's body draped round women's necks like scarves with the head still hanging on - albeit with glass eyes. I found these things quite revolting but they were surprisingly common.

There were no particularly vocal animal rights organisations at that time.

Furs were counted along with jewellery for insurance purposes, which further supports their perceived value.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer
webmaster