Saturday 4 August 2012

Safari jackets, a three-post primer, Part I

As some of you may recall, we had to catch up on three years' worth of summer vacation due to family illnesses. And boy, have we done that this summer.

I'm now uploading dozens of photos, but realize that in the end, few of them relate to sewing: I spent the last month in a series of bathing suits and sarongs. However, here is one relevant photo, from which I'm inspired to post (as I did with the kimono pattern in Burda) a three-part series.  I'm wearing a home-sewn travel outfit, arriving in the Split airport early in the morning, waiting for pickup by the host's boat chauffeur cum chef for a week of private cruising up and down the Dalmatian coast.
Tough life, I know.

The bottoms are the Burda cotton trousers with the pocket flaps (but no pockets!) that I sewed two summers ago.The jacket is an unlined OOP Vogue safari jacket that I made in both white and black cottons fifteen years ago. I doubt I've ever had more wear out of a sewing effort in my four decades-plus of sewing. A white safari jacket always looks natty for summer travel or meetings, but not too "officey," and can dress up or down. I subscribe to the "travel sharp" rule, borne out time and again. Returning from this trip, the Easyjet people took us from the back of a queue of hundreds when I said my husband was in pain from his back fractures and just opened a new queue to speed us through. (They were hoping to skip "Speedy Boarding" for some reason.) Frankly, I don't think we would have got that kind of service if we've been wearing flipflops and cutoffs like everyone else.

I use my safari jackets lots. It's the only time, apart from sewing my husband birthday pyjamas, that I set up multiple sewing machines, to end up with two completed jackets in one sew-through. Safari jackets feature lots of pockets for travel, useful these days when airlines don't always let you carry a purse along with your carry-on suitcase—sunglasses, lipstick, I-pod, ID, boarding card and reading glasses, credit card, lounge card—there are pockets galore for all of these items.

I do love the safari look. You can go wild, like Veruschka in YSL, or sleek, like Grace Kelly in Mogambo. (Clark Gable would unravel that prim look later in the movie) You can do the shirt-jacket version like Lauren Hutton or a shirt like Ava Gardner below. There are vest versions, sleeved versions, dress versions, probably even evening gown versions if I looked hard enough. The elements required are flap pockets, often on the upper bodice, and always very large pockets on the hips, preferably with double pleats, (what the French charmingly call bellows pockets) as well as shoulder epaulets, an open collar, and a tied or buckled belt. Snaps, utility rings and a good fit help.
But please, never confuse the safari look with the trench coat look which features chest guards.

In part II, I'm going to show you all the sewing safari looks I've collected over the years, either tracing Burda or collecting Vogues. Put on your pith helmet and Enjoy the Adventure!
(Part II follows)


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