Sunday, November 27, 2011

All About The Elliot Coat—I Mean, Robe.


So what's the deal with Elliot College's robes?

What do they look like, exactly...and do they come in taupe?

Many questions have been asked. Few have been answered.

Until now...

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Elliot College's tradition of fine seasonal outwear dates back to the mid 1600's, when the proud institution was founded in the newly established colony of New Haven. During their day-to-day business, Elliot students donned the standard academic regalia of Europe, now referred to in America as "cap and gown" attire. These days, the cap and gown is only worn during graduation ceremonies, but these robe and beanie combos were in fact a day-to-day affairs only a few centuries ago. No one batted an eye at them in town, and these classic robes served young Magi well. The journey from initiate to adept can be quite hazardous. Stout protection from the errant fireball or bolt of lightning is a must (and even more so after bad break-ups).

But the academic robe was not timeless. As the times changed, Elliot students began receiving strange glances in public. By the 1800's, other local universities such as Yale had abandoned the ancient relics, and the puritanical witch-roasts remained fresh in every mage's mind. The administration was finally convinced that Elliot students needed to better blend in with the surrounding Imperiti hordes. Thus, just prior to the start of the American Civil War, Elliot College commissioned a new design "to mimic the contemporary couture".


Unfortunately, the old hag awarded the design job had not left her forest abode in over fifty years. This initial frock style was quickly abandoned, largely due to the First Elliot Robe Revolt (1859), in which students were known to chant, "Get frocked yourselves! We'd rather meet the shivers!" while prancing about in their nightgowns. (The faculty finally gave in when a wave of yellow fever decimated the campus.) They authorized a more rational double-breasted riding coat that became the standard for many years.


The new design was not without its critics, however. The cumbersome buttons made dawning the coat a chore, and the tufted velvet exterior had a tendency to catch alight. After a few close calls, the issue came to a head in the winter of 1917, when a heavily mittened third-year named Jed Starling strayed a wee bit to close to one of his circle's candles. Despite the garment's thorough charming, the poor lad was immolated in front of his Iota squadmates at the very center of Elliot's great lawn. Eyewitness testimony describes the desperate Starling thumbing at the coat's resistant buttons until the roaring flames obscured him from view.

The deans rushed into production a Western duster made of asbestos-infused canvas. This model was far hardier, but the mostly Bostonian student body declared the design beyond appalling. A man-high mountain of the flame-retardant coats was set alight in front of Central Hall. When the coats failed to burn, some students began to urinate on them. Infuriated by this breach in decorum, the dean of student affairs cast a frost spell. The five most proximal lads had to be hospitalized, and the Second Elliot Robe Revolt began.

After a counter-hex turned all wall coverings on campus into sheets of revolting purple paisleys, the chancellor herself intervened. The dean of student affairs was summarily dismissed, and a professor by the name of Joseph Albright was brought in to replace her. Dean Albright proposed a new robe based on a British Navy coat that had become popular during the war. Surplus coats were readily available, and after the student body president signed off on it, the change was made that very evening. The students especially liked the coat's wooden toggles, which could even be undone while wearing mittens.


Known varyingly as the convoy coat, the navy coat, and the Montgomery coat, the Elliot Duffle Coat has hung from the shoulders of Elliot students from 1917 until the present. The coat is the garment any long-time resident of New England associates with Elliot College. It is all that is required to obtain a student discount in New Haven, and why Elliot students are lovingly referred to as toggle-heads.


The modern Elliot Robe is composed of a material called duffel. Duffel is a form of coarse wool originally developed in Belgium. The material is both thick and cheap, offering a high degree of warmth at a very reasonable price. Coats made of duffel became popular during the two World Wars, when burgeoning armies and navies required thousands of coats that were cheap and easy to construct. Duffle was chosen because it could provide warmth even while wet and could be taken on and off with ease. There are actually many types of duffle coats, but the British style is the most well known.



The British style consists of:
  1. A three-quarter length coat
  2. Made of genuine Duffle material
  3. Lined with a woolly tartan pattern of the maker's taste
  4. Cinched by four or more front wooden or horn toggle-fastenings with rope or leather loops to attach them to
  5. With two or more large outside pockets with covering flaps
  6. And a large pancake hood with a buttonable neck strap
The finest examples of the British style are produced by a company called Gloverall. Gloverall was founded in 1951 by Harold and Freda Morris. Apparently, Britain had a ton of surplus duffle coats left over from WWII, and the Morris family started their business selling off the inventory. When demand failed to slack, they began to produce the duffle coats themselves.

The Elliot duffle most closely resembles the Gloverall Classic. Gloverall describes their Classic as featuring "a wool rich main with fully bound seams and a slim tapered fit, contrast leather and buffalo horn toggle fastening, twin flap cover pockets, strap to the cuff with a toggle fastening, pancake hood that lies flat against the body and an inverted box pleat to reverse."


In the following video, the company demonstrates the inevitable awesomeness that ensues when you wear one of their duffle coats in public:


Elliot mages love the large pancake hood of the classic British style because it offers both discretion in public and singe-free casting in the forest. However, unlike the Gloverall design, an Elliot coat is nearly full length and offers a more plentiful array of internal pockets. Like all the Elliot robes before it, the Elliot Duffle is charcoal grey. This is consistent with the school colors (charcoal grey and gold). 

Dieter Resnick's personal duffle coat has undergone a free dye job thanks to a rather nauseated Nostophoros. His coat now boasts an alizarin crimson underhue, which is noted to wax and wane in Zero Sum.

B.

4 comments:

DarkRubberNeck said...

You should sell Dieter version coats to your fans. I know I would love to get one ^_^

Andrew Spisak said...

Oddly enough, I just bought a coat like that at Macy's last week. I though it looked good looking and warm. I second DarkRubberNeck, you should sell custom coats.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, I wasn't expecting the third book to be published so quickly, and for free on your blog nonetheless!

--Dep

B. Justin Shier said...

@DRN: ah...branding opportunities...hehe

@Andrew: I'm gonna have to swing over to a Macy's and evaluate it.

@Anon: -_- I see what you did there