Named for the Latin word pellicus, meaning "made of skin," the pelisse was a loose cape made of fur, or made of velvet or satin and lined or trimmed with fur. Popular during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the pelisse was a warm outer garment, commonly worn by women and children. The design is thought to be an example of Middle Eastern influence on European and American styles.

A kind of combination cloak and coat, the pelisse usually had a large collar, though some had hoods to give even more protection from the weather. The length of the pelisse varied from ankle length to hip length, and the fashionable length changed from year to year, the way women's skirt hemlines did during the mid-twentieth century. Most pelisses had slits in the front for the hands to reach through, but some were designed with short or long sleeves, making them resemble a loose, flowing coat. Some of the sleeved pelisses were fitted more closely to the body and looked almost like an overdress.

A variation of the warm fur-lined pelisse was the pelisse robe, which was worn by women indoors. Usually made of muslin (sheer cotton fabric) or other light material, the pelisse robe was designed in much the same way as the outdoor pelisse, as a cape with a collar, worn over the dress for modesty and warmth.


Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Western Dress, Prehistoric to Present . Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Yarwood, Doreen. Fashion in the Western World: 1500–1900 . New York: Drama Book Publishers, 1992.

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