Eeva Simola-Erholtz (Finland)
Eeva brings us up-to-date with her continued love for this simple garment, transforming it to her own, very personal design:
"...Kotitakkis, or house coats as they were called here, were straight cut, had buttons on the front, and big rectangular sewn-on pockets on the sides for hankies, keys, matches... and a simple shirt collar.
Here in the middle is my grandmother Eva Elisabeth Simola née Friman in her very typical green apron.We call it ”kotitakki”, domestic coat. I am in the pic, too, in a blue jacket, holding the beagle puppy’s lead.
Grandmother Eva wearing the same domestic coat. On her right, my nanny, left my grandfather, my mother and me.
Textile patterns were often floral or geometric, and followed the trends of the time, but only subtly.
My granny Eva Elisabet née Friman, always wore thick brown long socks that wrinkled on the knees, woolly hand-knitted socks and in winter, ankle high slippers with rubber soles.
Her red slippers were my first introduction to tartans! Those red slippers had what we called 'Scots check pattern', i.e. Tartan! The boiled wool had a red-beige tartan(ish) check pattern on the shoe, beige turns on the sides, and big red bobbins on top.Those slippers were and are called Aino. Aino was a young lady in the Kalevala, Finnish national epic.
The house coats were durable, washed well, and were made of cotton or cotton drill. My granny never went out of the garden gate or front yard in her house coat. A brief exchange over the fence with a passing-by neighbour was possible, but otherwise house coats were for domestic use only.
Some later models were of crimplene or polyester, had a tighter cut, short front zips and collars or round neck. They were often of ugly beige and brown colours.
I have house dresses, too! They are a bit different, some rather fancy (and by Bitte Kai Rand like the one in the pic). My older ones I wear even for gardening or rowing the dingy, and I can find myself wiping my wet hands in the hem!
Just two years ago, I asked a dressmaker and a friend who is arts and crafts teacher to help me and make me modern house dresses:
Took my fisherman's smocks (Norfolk slops) to them with some new material, and just asked them use the model but add some tens of centimetres to the hem. That makes a perfect modern house coat!
These garments are so smart and I am so proud of them, I use them both for meetings and at home, but I no longer wipe my hands on them! I wear them both as dresses with heavy tights, and as tunics with leggings or trousers, tight or loose but straight.
Being loose cut, a thin sweater under a long smock or slop will make it warm in winter.
I just love the simplicity and freedom of these garments and their large pockets, and well cut necks are beautiful. The pockets are never ever empty...
My arts & crafts teacher friend and her friends have followed my lead and now enjoy their long smocks, too...."