Barbra Streisand wore this beautiful 1940’s style, tailored wool trench coat during the filming of “The Way We Were” (1973). Though the scenes she wore this coat in were cut from the final edit of the film, it was featured prominently in many promotional stills and can briefly be seen in a montage. In several of them we see Katie and Hubbell seated at the Pulitzer Fountain, which is located at Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza on 5th Avenue and East 59th Street. This 22-foot high fountain was funded by Joseph Pulitzer and created by sculptor Karl Bitter and architect Thomas Hastings. Bitter died in a car accident before ever seeing his bronze sculpture of Pomona, the goddess of abundance atop the fountain. This fountain makes another appearance in the final scene of the film.
Costume design for The Way We Were was a joint effort between Dorothy Jeakins (1914-1995) and Moss Mabry (1918-2006). Jeakins was unusual in that she freelanced, never signing a long-term contract with any one studio. She ended up leaving the production before it was completed and Mabry took over. Due to this, they were nominated for the Best Costume Design Academy Award as a team.
In the 1940’s this style of coat would have been restricted by L-85. This was a rule issued by the US War Production Board, with the goal of a 15% reduction in the amount of textiles used in women’s wear. Guidelines included that coats must not have a bi-swing back, must have a two pocket maximum, and sleeves were limited to being demure rather than dramatic and oversized. Like this one, most popular coats were herringbone and made from wool or rayon-wool blends. They were often created using re-purposed wool from used coats and wool blankets.
Katie’s style of coat were called wrap or trench coats. These were typically somewhat loose-fitting, but not over sized. The A-line shape of this coat was extremely flattering on Barbra and a similar style jacket was worn in the iconic last scene of the film. This multi-colored jacket features a wide pointed collar with a fully lined, pleated bodice. There is a large button at the upper-right side and oversized button-hole at the collar. This was worn unbuttoned in the film. A hook and eye closure is at the waist interior. A tan, leather, detachable self-tie belt provides outer closure. Two elegant slit pockets are tucked away on each side of the coat which gives it some functionality without distraction. The back of the coat has two darts, which give a waterfall effect to the fabric below. This was accessorized with a simple grey scarf, fingerless gloves and quintessential 1940’s peep-toe heels. This costume piece sold at Julien’s Auctions in 2004 for $2,040.00.