Hem differentials & Finished Ensemble

Am I the only one in the fashion world who has a hang-up when it comes to coat length? Do designers have a rule which determines how long the coat should be in relation to the dress? Whenever I put together my own ensembles, the question of the coat length sometimes presents a conundrum. Should the coat be longer than the dress, shorter, or cut the same length?

I'm torn. Take a look at the ensembles below.


Some days, I love this look, but on other days, I’d prefer it to be an even length. What do you think? If the dress is longer than the coat, is it considered tacky, making it appear as if a slip is showing?


I began researching ensembles where the dress was longer than the coat. This Jacques Fath ensemble has pleasing proportions and the differential is intentional and classically beautiful. She reminds me of a flower.


This Lilli Ann ensemble isn't my favorite, but here's another example where the coat is shorter than the dress. I can't explain why I don't care for this ensemble as much.


In the Nina Ricci ensemble below, the shorter outer cape coat is proportionate and beautiful.


Here is another example, a tailored Jacques Fath ensemble with a shorter coat. (That's him in the background, isn't he so happy and playful?)



Below is another Nina Ricci. Only this time, there’s a huge differential between the dress and the coat! I’m not sure if I am drawn to the dramatic contrast.



Here, the Dior hem feels comforting. The coat is the same length as the suit.


Going back to the Patou ensemble, the cover of the pattern looks like the coat and the dress are the same length. That means, if any hem adjustments are made to the dress, one must also consider re-proportioning the coat as well.



Even though we may think the coat is cut the same length as the dress, I measured the differential the house wanted us to have. The coat is actually 5" longer than the dress! This makes sense because the design was meant for the entire dress to be covered. When worn, the eye doesn't pick up the differential.


Keeping in mind the hem differential, I finally finished the ensemble. Success! The dress does not peak out from under the coat. The coat has to be constructed to be broad and wide to cover the poofy nature of the dress. Truth be told, I’m not used to wearing such an oversized coat!






Maybe hemlines will always be a point of discussion, trends, and disagreements. I discovered, after making this Patou ensemble, that my taste leans towards the coat covering (and slightly exceeding) the dress hemline.


I'll leave you with a photo of the Patou ensemble from the American edition of Vogue Magazine, November 15, 1957. Isn't this a beautiful creation and timeless photograph?







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