Strange vintage trends: fox furs

You know my feelings about real fur by now, and if you’ve somehow missed that you can read about it here.

I have to remind myself though that the past was a very different place, where wearing fur was aspirational and fashionable and the ethics of it weren’t questioned at all. One thing I still struggle to understand though is how the strange fashion of the fox-fur stole came about.

It seems a very strange (if not gruesome) thing to want to drape a dead fox around your shoulders, especially with the head, tail and stiff dangling legs still attached. Is it the vintage equivalent of all those wooly hats with ears on them we saw last winter? Were they just seen as ‘a bit of fun’, or was it the height of vintage sophistication?

I was going to Google the history of the fox fur, but I’m too reluctant to come across the inevitable horrible skinned-fox photos posted everywhere by animal rights groups. I’m anti-fur too, but it doesn’t mean I want to look at horrible photos of bloody foxes. Can anyone answer the question for me?

Anyway, I thought  you might enjoy this strange gallery of vintage women wearing their fox furs. Some look comical, some glamorous and some downright strange. What do you think?

If you’d like to join in the debate about whether it’s right to wear vintage fur, you can here.

[7 photos]

Strange vintage trends: fox fur wraps

This fox looks a little like Basil Brush (to me anyway!) c. 1910

StrangeStrange vintage trends: fox fur wraps vintage trends: fox fur wraps

The ‘shy’ fox, hiding his face away from the camera, c. 1920

Strange vintage trends: fox fur wraps

Mrs Raymond Belmont, c. 1915. Surely this would have been nicer without the head and legs still being attached?

Strange vintage trends: fox fur wraps

Aviatrix Amelia Earhart wearing a fox fur stole

Strange vintage trends: fox fur wraps

A United Charities worker wearing a glassy-eyed fox fur selling a Rose Day button to a man, c. 1930s

Strange vintage trends: fox fur wraps

Queen Elizabeth (mother of Elizabeth II) wearing a fox fur in 1927

Strange vintage trends: fox fur wraps

The very glamourous Thornton family aboard the Cunard liner Lusitania, 1914


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11 thoughts on “Strange vintage trends: fox furs

  1. Frenchee

    Hi there: I don’t think anybody wore them to be funny or cute back in the day.They’re considered camp now but they were the height of sophistication in olden days. It is strange that the half-taxidermy, half-fashion trend ever took off (and I don’t know why or who).

    • Mary, WHV

      It is strange isn’t it? I can’t really see why a dead fox draped aroudn your neck would be a desirable thing! Perhaps whole pelts of animals were more expensive, so showed they had cost a lot of money…? I have no idea!

  2. Karen Gallo

    I also do not understand why the allure of pelts around your neck was so appealing. I remember my sister and I playing with the ones that hung in grandma’s closet, intrigued by the head and feet. I am researching information now for the historical society I work for because we have one on display in our “1920’s” house.

  3. Aunt Raven

    More affluent ladies wore mink scarfs of 2 – 5 pelts clipped together over their tailored wool suits when I was growing up in the late 40’s 1950’s. There was a silk-covered clip under the jaw to clamp them together, and a button under one of the paws and a loop on another so you could link them together in different ways.

    I loved looking at them in church on the ladies sitting in front of me when the sermons were long. When I was about 8, I got a little white “fox” stole with head, paws convincingly formed of a rabbit pelt, with a genuine ermine tail. There was a matching little bandeaux white rabbit hat with an ermine tail on each side. I loved it, and wore it as a collar until I was a teen ager and they had long gone out of fashion.

    Then I passed it along to a young niece who had always liked. it. The appeal of the heads and the tails was quite simply that it was an animal pelt that you wore, and we liked the heads and paws and tails to remind us of the fact –. I know it sounds weird, however remember that we also loved westerns in those years, and even if sophisticated, we liked references to our recent (well, recent compared to Europe) pioneer / frontier history.

    I am still old enough to remember and appreciate this, though younger people have a horror of wearing furs mainly because of the barbaric way the Chinese have of skinning animals alive –hideous. My father was a hunter and put food on our table, and my mother used to dress out pheasants and doves he shot; he dressed out the venison carcasses himself.

    We had no horror of butchering the animals — my parents grew up during the depression, and would have starved if their fathers had not killed dear, geese, coons, and opossums to put on the table. If you had lived then, you would have thought the same– nobody killed anything they didn’t eat or wear. The furs of coons and rabbits and dear were processed and people still used the skins to make caps or drape over the backs of chairs– Though deer skins tended to shed on your clothes. . . .

  4. Becker Philly

    In my grandmother’s Coney Island honeymoon photo, 1925, she is wearing what looks like a fox stole, with head and paws. She is beautifully dressed and it all looks fantastic together. She comes from a family of furriers, reaching back at least to those born in Denmark in the 1830s. I wouldn’t wear it today, but fur was often a byproduct of putting food on the table and also kept one from freezing. When I was a child, every kid had a rabbit’s foot for fun, often worn, complete with bones and claws.

  5. D.D.

    I have two vintage fox stoles like this (silver and arctic) and one red fox stole I made new. I wear all three frequently and I find them really beautiful and unique! I love the little faces.

  6. Delia

    When I was nine (1965) I spoke to two ladies who would have been in their seventies and eighties. Both wore the intact fur stole. I stared wide eyed. It was not common to the women in my family who were a later generation, So I can say I saw the fox fur head and legs stole and I also saw it in town where I lived (Dunedin New Zealand). They were in the local furriers. It seemed to me to date from the 1920’s and 1930’s and the women thought it quite normal. This was before synthetic fabrics which came about in the fifties and in the sixties and the coats were called fake fur.

  7. Joyce

    I have the fox stole that was my grandmother’s. With head, tall, and legs. It always facilitated my. Only wish that I had a picture of her wearing it.


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