Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cut Down Colvinex flight suits

The Colvinex flight suit was issued during the last years of WWII and into the Korean war.  They were electrically heated with goatskin shells and large mouton collars.  As surplus, a full one piece flight suit had limited appeal, so many were cut down into jackets. The zippers used were separable bottom-type instead of the usual closed bottom type used on coveralls, meaning that cutting the suit down into a jacket could be done without replacing the zipper.  Unfortunately, the zipper terminated at the waist belt, which falls at the wearer's natural waist, right around the bellybutton.  This is perfect for a full flight suit, but when cut down, is a bit awkwardly high. The way the legs are cut means that when the suit was cut down, it left a gap between the skirt panels. I've seen a number of these cut down jackets in a variety of lengths. Although they need this skirt panel to be wearable, I feel to overcome the problems of the pattern, the shorter they are, the better.

Below is an ad from 1954 from a surplus store advertising these suits, cut down by the shop in to jackets for motorcyclists.

Here's one from my collection.  Despite (or maybe because of) the style's design eccentricities, it's one of my favorites. Mine has a large breast pocket which not all of these jackets did.  The small flap on the other side covers where the electrical leads would have been attached for the heating.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Two Tone Motorcycle jackets

A Kit Karson from 1950, with black body with white lapels. "Fine for truck drivers and other working men too".

1954  - Boltaflex (vinyl) motorcycle jacket in white with black trim. I'm surprised at how expensive this one is compared to real leather jackets of the period.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Motorcycle jacket

While variations on the waist length double breasted leather jacket style we now know as the "Motorcycle Jacket" were produced through the 1930s by specialty makers and under the "Aviator" name, the name itself didn't stick until after WWII.

1948- Kit Karson.
 The basic style has changed very little since this point. I would say the biggest difference between these and pre-war "Aviator" style jackets would be the material, with aviation jackets predominantly being produced in capeskin, while motorcycle jackets were produced in heavier horsehide. The hides used on these early jackets was still nowhere near as heavy as what you find on many of today's jackets.

  Many newspaper ads of the period used preexisting stock art from their "Aviator" models, but applied the Motorcycle name in the late 1940s.  It's possible these shops were trying to ride the wave of the Motorcycle Jacket's early popularity to get rid of old stock, but I think it's probably more likely that they were just using old advertising artwork because they already had it and it was "close enough"