Hello, vintage lovers!!!

As I start to learn an ext specifics on the vintage layouts which us know and love, I’m often found in a conundrum of education pursuits.

You are watching: How to tell if a fur coat is mink

Today’s write-up is an example: one of the season’s hottest modern trends is the of fur. We saw it everywhere the runways in a range of styles, from Rachel Zoe vests to full-on hair coats, gloves, earmuffs, scarfs and everything in between.

I think about myself nothing an ext or much less than an pet of this earth. And as an animal, i feel it’s really important come respect the rights of all other brother & sister animals.

That’s why I desire to begin today’s article — i m sorry is an exploration and also education on identify 5 of the most usual vintage furs supplied to develop warm outerwear apparel — v the declaration that I will never ever buy new fur or animal leather products.

However, ns will likewise declare that I will certainly buy vintage hair or leather assets as a sustainable option to usage the sources which are pre-existing. As an additional alternative, i can likewise decide not to stay these clothing to perpetuate the popularity of brand-new production of hair & leather products by choosing to utilize them in various methods as outlined in this blog post I created last January on exactly how to Recycle Vintage Fur.

I believe that us each have a appropriate to our own opinions, no issue the topic matter. Ns respect anyone’s comparable or differing opinion, and welcome further suggestions ~ above how finest to tackle this honest fashion conundrum in the comments.

So, vintage lovers! for the sake of today’s post, i hope that you leave v a greater understanding that vintage hair as a whole, which will certainly fuel your very own opinions and also decisions on exactly how to engage with this styles and also trends this winter.

Keep analysis after the run to learn just how to determine vintage mink, fox, rabbit, beaver & raccoon — and also to understand just exactly how the hair industry has actually influenced fashion yesterday with today.

Whether you’re a vintage fur wearer or not, i hope the today’s write-up provides further insight into how to identify fashion furs and some expertise on why different furs were popular at details points in ours fashion history.

What i love most about vintage fashion is the glimpse into our society’s history it offers. While the times they might be changing — and less and less “new fur” is encouraged to it is in made and also bought — the vintage fur industry remains, and also it’s with the finest knowledge that we deserve to make the right layout decision for us.

Thanks to everyone for analysis today’s post and hopefully, offering their very own vintage fur knowledge in the comments below!

Or feel cost-free to Tweet, Facebook, Instagram or subscribe to my newsletter below. 

xx, SD



Before launching right into identifying vintage furs that mink, fox, rabbit, beaver and also raccoon 101, i must allude out that hair is a large trend for winter 2011-2012. The runways collection the phase for trends and mainstream ready-to-wear developers take note.

The proof of this cold weather season’s fur trend is apparent on the cover of the Bloomingdale’s catalog cover above, i m sorry I obtained in mine mailbox simply yesterday.


When we speak that fur, four crucial words are used to define how the fur piece is constructed.

UNDERCOAT: This is whereby you discover the denser/thicker hair near the skin of the animal

GUARD HAIRS: These space the shinier, an ext delicate hairs which lay end the undercoat. Lock are an ext aesthetically pleasing while the undercoat is the helpful warmth layer.

PILE: The “pile” is offered to define the direction the the hair growth, i.e. “the pile grows inward from the tail or external from the height of the belly to the bottom of the torso.”

PELT: The literal skin that the animal, and the phrase provided to define the variety of animals needed to develop one fur garment. “This hair coat forced 10 pelts that a fox,” for example.

OTHER RESOURCES: You can learn much more about different species of fur and how to identify it by discovering the Ebay guide to Vintage hair & the Vintage Fashion Guild overview to Fur.

1.) MINK


THE ANIMAL: Wild or ranched mink, a form of weasel which have the right to swim at cost-free will (referred to as “semi aquatic”) and also is most generally found in phibìc America and countries the Siberia, China and also Japan.

HOW come IDENTIFY: Mink fur is flat and short and also because the animal itself is small (imagine no larger than a common squirrel), the pelts space long and narrow when taken together to type the garment. The look of a mink piece is defined as being practically “shiny and also wet.” This renders sense because the pet can swim, therefore it’s virtually as if the hair is favor aquatic skin.

Fur is normally very light however still thick, and also according come the Vintage Fashion Guild, dark mink is the most recognizable (see photo of wild mink above). Ranched mink are not born through dark hair coloring, so their hair is often dyed to various shades the browns and even white or a “silver blue” shade.

POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: The definitive “mink coat.” if other pet fur is provided for cold weather protective outer garments, the mink style is what i associate v Hollywood glamor and luxury.

My grandm passed down her mink stole come me (worn below). The trend of mink began in the 20th century after mink to be trapped for some time in huge quantities. Beaver had actually been an ext popular previously, together you’ll find out why reading just how to determine vintage beaver hair below.

It renders financial sense why mink is linked with such glitz & glam: because the mink animal is for this reason small, it calls for dozens of them to make a cloak or a stole. Thus the garment itself is more expensive than the same format made through a larger animal with larger pelts, like a fox.

Plus, mink fur is short and also glossy, make mink the go-to pet for high-fashion pieces looking to radiate that luxurious shine.



2.) FOX


THE ANIMAL: There room 12 types of what we know as the “fox,” the many recognizable of together being the red fox (shown above) or gray fox, which room the indigenous types of fox in phibìc America.

The US, Canada and Finland are the world’s leader in manufacturing of fox fur, or basically the production of the “pelts” required to do the apparel as a whole.

POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: Fox pelts complete with head and feet (see picture below) were popular in the ’30s – ’50s.

Special note: While it is certain the creepiest, the easiest way to recognize a form of fur is come take note of even if it is the garment contains the head or tail the its animal.

Mink stoles that the ’30s-’50s ages (on Etsy, watched sold regularly from the ’50s) were likewise often designed with heads and tails still intact, which ns assume ended up being trendy since it to be much much easier to use the entire pet versus simply looping together smaller sized pelts.

I’d love to understand why using animal heads/tails to design a hair garment because less famous after the ’50s. To mine knowledge, PETA was established as an organization in 1980, so over there is much less chance that this organization had influence of fur trends & styles prior come that.

I additionally noticed — along with rabbit & beaver — that fox fur is a popular an option for hats, presented in the picture farther above. The hat over is hair from a white fox. I think that because there are so numerous “natural color choices” of foxes, the dying fox fur is no as famous as dying mink fur.

HOW to IDENTIFY: once you’re assessing a piece sans head or feet, identifying even if it is the fur is fox or no depends mainly on touch.

The fur is much longer in to compare to various other woodland creatures. It’s a soft fur that come in a range of colors relying on the kind of fox species: beige, blue, brown, red, silver- or white.

Wild red and also gray fox space the least expensive the fur due to the fact that they are aboriginal to phibìc America, so manufacturing remains local instead of outsourced in order to dropping the as whole average expense a garment.



THE ANIMAL: The rabbit, technically a “rodent” pet that is quite literally found all end the world in a range of species, size, color and also personality.

POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: Rabbits are so plentiful and common that plenty of rabbit piece are much less expensive than say, a mink or a beaver piece.

According come the Vintage Fashion Guild, hare furs to be more often dyed before the 1970s. because rabbits are one of the least expensive hair garments, the trend was come dye the rabbit hair to resemble a more expensive creature. Maybe this is why with vintage furs, us so regularly see a rabbit item dyed dark brown together if it to be mink, beaver or fox.

HOW to IDENTIFY: as soon as petting a garment do from rabbit, it must feel like you are petting a domestic cat. Because the coloring of a hare garment could be just around anything — from white to black and also any shade in between, thanks to popular of dice rabbit fur — it’s most important to take keep in mind of the garment’s longer, denser hair that room silky soft. You’ll want to rub the garment on her face, lot like a cat would certainly rub it’s human body on you when wanting to be stroked!

Beginning in the 1970s — as soon as a love and acceptance of all things “natural” started thanks come the peace, love & flower power generation — the natural colors of rabbit fur were embraced as a trend and also less dying occurred.

Also, the demand for “higher quality fur” had actually lessened. Mink to be the luxurious go-to fur of its day, for this reason rabbit fur was dyed formerly to the ’70s to resemble mink fur.

The rabbit vest you check out pictured above is from the ’70s and also not dyed. This grey-white colour is really unique come the common varieties of phibìc American rabbit, therefore it’s much easier to identify more modern-day rabbit pieces based upon color alone.

Angora is an additional style that rabbit hair with recent popularity do from the sheared hair of the angora types of rabbit, presented below.

We’ve all loved ours “cashmere” sweaters, which room soft come the touch and made native wool. Angora is a comparable touch and feel come cashmere, however you’ll recognize it’s angora due to the fact that you’ll notice small threads of fur arising from the garment product that can almost be “brushed” like fluffy, not-thick hair.




THE ANIMAL: There room two distinct varieties of beaver: The Eurasian beaver (Europe) and the phibìc American beaver (Canada/US/Northern Mexico).

The Eurasian beaver to be literally hunted into extinct in Europe in the 17th century. The rodent biology is just recently gift introduced back into its native European countries.

As because that North America, the exact same population-decline the the beaver developed because beaver trapping came to be so renowned in the 1600s come mid 1800s. The literally became an industry of supply & demand, and major beaver trapping suppliers were born the end of the trend to develop all-things-outerwear from this when plentiful creature. Once the beaver was hunted into helpful extinction in 17th century Europe, the French & British travel to north America to set up fur trade there.

POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: When beaver to be such a search after pet in the 1600s – 1800s, the was typical for aristocrats to wear beaver “wool felt” hats. When the formats of hats changed over the food of 200 years, the legacy remained the same: guys were to wear a hat no issue the social situation — Always!

1920s BEAVER hair FELT HAT

Flash front to the 20th century vintage pieces, and also beaver appears to have been a much more popular format for outerwear accessories than anything else. Act a quick Etsy search of “beaver fur” still results in beaver coats, but additionally beaver earmuffs (see above), scarves and also yes … the famous beaver hat!

(BRIEF) BEAVER trading HISTORY: Beyond simply the socially renowned beaver feel hat, beaver was commonly made to develop practical devices of warmth and stable structure, like blankets, bags and coats.

In 16th to 17th century phibìc America, Beaver pelts were also used as a currency value, as in “this knife is worth 2 beaver pelts.” Beaver belts were traded by indigenous American Indians and once they arrived to collection their own fur trade industry, the european white man used pelts as an alternative of money too.

Because beavers to be literally trapped right into extinction in Europe because of the reality that they were the #1 selection for the day’s hat styles, explorers to phibìc America — including also Lewis & Clark! — sought new land there since they likewise desired to find brand-new options to boost the availability of fur.

And boy, go Beaver lock find! That’s why the “beaver hair wars” of the mid 1600s to be so crucial in territorial history: The Iroquois Indians wanted to maintain rights to land whereby Beavers lived. Yet of course, the freshly arrived French want these lands too for their very own financial gain.

The result? A bloody war over the desire to just produce and trade Beaver pelts.

The background of the beaver trade doesn’t avoid in the 1600s. The industry grew until the 1840s, once hat styles started to adjust and a need for beaver lessened.

Also, lot like was skilled in Europe, beaver were being slowly trapped into a dwindling population. I provided this Economic background of the fur Trade as a source for this (brief) ring up, and also in the write-up it explains that background has no true “population” to speak of because that beavers prior to current day. Yet it’s suspect that as the price the Beaver pelts decreased, an ext and an ext were being trapped to consist of for this shed income. Thus, an ext beavers were eliminated from their natural habitats.

HOW come IDENTIFY: Beaver was so sought after as early on as the 1600s due to the fact that it quite literally is the sturdiest, warmest and also most hard-wearing the all hair on this list. It provides sense the the beaver doesn’t hibernate: Its hair is thick and also warm enough that it can survive literally life in freezing-cold water v the food of the winter.

When examining a fur garment, keep in mind how dense the warmth the hair feels. You deserve to see in the snapshot of beaver earmuffs above that the fur virtually looks prefer a bear’s cold-bearing fur.

Beaver apparel have less tendency to fall apart or shed. According to the Economic background of the fur Trade, “Wool feeling was offered for over 2 centuries to do high-fashion hats. Feeling is stronger than a woven material. It will certainly not tear or clearly in a directly line; that is much more resistant come water, and also it will organize its shape even if it it s okay wet. These qualities made felt the prime material for hatters specifically when fashion called for hats with big brims. The greatest quality hats would certainly be made fully from beaver wool, whereas lower quality hats contained inferior wool, such as rabbit.”

While ns can’t speak to it from experience, I would imagine that beaver garments may be most basic to uncover antique (100+ years old) just since they are just that long lasting.



THE ANIMAL: The raccoon is a nocturnal biology who resides throughout every one of North America. In desert areas — think the American southwest — these night-loving creatures hang much more around garbage cans of her home because there are much less woodlands to make their home. Friend can’t mistake a raccoon for an additional creature thanks to its ringed tail and also the black mask across its face.

And if you see a raccoon out during the day, operation the other way! The pet is most likely infected v rabbis and also a potential injury to humans.

POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: Raccoon is consisted of of about 90% undercoat — i m sorry remember in the hatchet above, is the hair which insulates the animal and is because of this the densest & warmest.

According to searching stats retained on record, raccoon trapping for outdoor garment use got to an all time high in the ’70s once 5.2 million raccoons were captured in the hunting season the 1976-1977.

The factor for such searching popularity of the ‘coon is many likely as result of the reality that other animals used for warm outerwear — (cough cough) beaver — were still struggling to regain population after gift over hunted for literally numerous years.

Raccoon was likewise popular in the ’20s & ’30s prior to the tendency of “long haired fur” ended up being less renowned in the ’40s-’50s when the quick haired mink reigned can be fried & many stylish.

An amazing vintage trend to note is that once Walt Disney released the movie “Davy Crockett: King the the Wild Frontier” in the ’50s that raccoon hats — finish with tails and all — became popular.

HOW come IDENTIFY: Raccoon fur is a lot of like fox fur — longer and soft to the touch — but the coloring offers it a distinct difference from that of fox.

Based ~ above my research study raccoon fur was no a typically dyed fur, therefore you’ll likewise know it’s raccoon due to the fact that its body is a silver-gray coloring, while the tail has actually a brown base that’s easily established thanks to black tiger-esque stripes.

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The Davy Crockett ‘coon cap — while well-known in the ’50s — was sold mainly using faux raccoon fur. I guess this was due to the fact that the hat was mostly well-known with young guys who might not have had the income to buy a bonafide coonskin hat.