Thursday, October 18, 2012


The muff was a classic accessory of the seventeenth century.  

 Silk French Muff, 1680

 Marie Antoinette (2006)

It was worn by both men and women, not only for warmth, but also as a pocket.

Madame de Pompadour

 Keira Knightley in The Duchess (2008)

A man's fur muff -- made from beaver, otter, or even panther -- hung from his belt.  As it was the custom to comb one's hair in public, you can bet a comb was tucked inside.

By the 1700's, cloth muffs, festooned with ribbons, were worn throughout Europe. 

Hood and Muff, 1780
Silk Muff, 1780

But in the middle of the century, in an effort to give his business a boost, a Parisian furrier whipped up a velvet muff and presented it to the local hangman.  No one was allowed to wear what the hangman wore so cloth muffs were instantly taboo.  Now everyone flocked to their furriers to buy muffs.

In the 1770's muffs took a beating in Frederick the Great's German court.  Finding a large muff belonging to his enemy, Herr von Kameke, Freddy flung it into the fire -- thus dampening the fashion for muffs in Germany.

Silk Muff, France, 19th Century

Hat & Muff, 1890

In the 1900's Pioret gave the muff a comeback, and smartly dressed women were seen carrying muffs that matched their fur stoles, providing an elegant look for promenading and prettily posed Currier & Ives ice skating prints. 

 Edwardian Era

Isa Miranda in Hotel Imperial, 1939


Marilyn Monroe

Over time, as the agile-fingered glove won out, the fashion was muffed.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lunn Schnurnberger