The Coatdress: Dressing for Success
"You can do anything you want in life if you dress for it."
- Edith Head, How to Dress for Success (1967)
The coatdress has been a staple of professional women's wardrobes since the 1960s. In fact, in the 1970s, it was often worn on-screen by Minnesota's most famous working girl, Mary Tyler Moore. While modern version of the garment emerged around 1915, it became particularly popular during the latter half of the century.
The coatdress shares many features with outerwear, including front closures with buttons or zippers. While they are similar in silhouette to the shirtdress, the coatdress is generally made out of the same fabrics as outerwear - like the wool and tweed examples here. During the 1960s and 70s, the dress was often cinched at the waist with a coordinating belt, seen in the coatdress above from Bill Blass. The garment's flat, pointed collar was also a popular feature in women's wear during this period.
However, the silhouette shifted during the 1980s. The coatdress became both boxier and less tailored to the body. The noted shift is apparent in the version below from Yves Saint Laurent. The angular, padded shoulders and large notched lapels of this double-breasted dress mirror trends in contemporary blazers.