Davis Clothing Collection
I have to admit it .
. . I'm a Thrift Shop Diva! If there's one in the area, I'm there!
Sometimes you get lucky as I did in the early 80's when I frequented
a small thrift shop about a half mile from my house. At that time
I was doing singing telegrams and looking for some cool clothes to
wear. The owner of the thrift shop told me that she just came back
from New York City where she attended a huge rummage sale in a church
parking lot. At the end of the day, someone from the church approached
her and said they had a number of boxes filled with some man's clothes
and wanted someone to take them off their hands. She loaded them into
her van and when she arrived home and started going through them,
she found many of the clothes with the label: "Styled for Miles Davis"
or "Emsley of New York" and some with both. All of them
were about the same size. She invited me to her house (as I was one
of her best customers) and let me tell you . . . the boxes where huge,
like the kind you use when doing some serious moving. And she had
five or six of them. I recall going through them, holding up the pants
and commenting what a little butt this Miles Davis guy had. Since
my mindset was to obtain some nice jackets for my singing telegrams,
I didn't see any need for the pants. (Oh, hindsight!) So, I only took
some of the jackets and coats. At the time, neither the thrift shop
lady nor I had a clue about who Miles Davis was. You can't imagine
how many times I could kick myself for not taking ALL of the clothes.
I often wonder where the rest of these clothes ended up.
I went through her boxes
piece by piece, spreading stuff all over her suburban living room
and gathered my own little pile on the floor, not even realizing their
value and importance. When I got home, I did research on who Miles
Davis actually was, back when there wasn't any Internet so it took
me awhile. After reading up on him I decided that I would not wear
these pieces as costumes for my singing telegram business, although,
I did wear some of them on social occasions a few times. Once, while
at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Philly, I took off the jacket and showed
a guy the label. I took my eye off him for a second, and the next
thing I know, he's headed towards the door with the jacket. I had
to chase him to the door to get it back.
So, there you have it!
I would like to thank all of those with whom I have been corresponding
with who have found photographs of Miles in these clothes. Your help
is greatly appreciated!
Here are photographs, descriptions and measurements. Most of the pieces
I have are size 32 and 34. Miles sure was a little in size but mighty
in his style and talents!
Below is one of my favorite jackets from the entire collection.
It looks like the one that Miles is wearing for the cover of his
album Cookin' at the Plugged Nickel. It is a black wool with
gray pin stripes. It contains a label for "Emsley of New York" in
the inside right breast and "Styled for Miles Davis" on the inside
left breast. There is a breast pocket inside, under each label.
There are adjustable side belts with silver buckle. There are five
pewter/copper-color buttons that close the front as well as one
button on each sleeve. The outside is in perfect conditions but
the lining has some slightly worn spots.
Note: This jacket was on display at the Rock and Rock Hall of
Fame for an exhibit commemorating the life of Miles Davis who
was inducted into the Hall on March 13, 2006.
Update 2009: The jacket is now on display at the Grammy Museum
in Los Angeles! We have concluded that these may be some of the
only surviving pieces from the Emsley era. Miles was featured
in an article called "The
Art of Wearing Clothes" in Esquire Magazine in 1960.
For more about Miles and his tailor Emsley click here: www.tinyurl.com/emsley.
Davis Miles Davis was one of the 20th Centurys
most creative artists changing the sound of popular music many
times in his six decade career. His musical experimentation
beginning in the late 60s created a fusion of jazz with
rock and roll, soul, funk and hip hop.
June 2010: Two additional pieces are now in the
The black double breasted full length leather coat and the purple
Pin striped jacket at the Grammy since 2009. See below.
Another of my favorites, this hip length wool jacket below has
a very unique style. It is a size 34 with a two button closing,
button on the sleeves and two buttons just above the back flap
opening which measures 14 inches up from the hem. It has a
"Styled for Miles Davis" label which appears on the inside of
the left breast inside the jacket and the "Emsley of New York"
label on the right, each with a breast pocket inside. There is a patch pocket on the front
outside left and two patch pockets in the front just below the
waist, each with a crescent shape to the top of the pocket (instead
of straight across). Unfortunately, the lining of this jacket
did not wear very well. Miles must have liked this one too. I
recall the underarms were torn when I bought it. One of the buttons
on the sleeve is missing.
The double breasted tuxedo jacket below is charcoal gray with black
trim and black covered buttons (lapel and sleeve), and has a "Styled
for Miles Davis" label which appears on the inside of the left breast
and the "Emsley of New York" label on the right, each with a breast
pocket inside. There is a breast pocket on the outside and two regular
waist pockets. This lining is in perfect condition, however, the
outside of the jacket has small holes in several places, possibly
from moths (before it was in my care). This is the jacket I had
to run after at the Blue Note because some guy was trying to steal
The wool jacket below is dark charcoal gray with ivory stripes in
size 32. It is a very unique style with a two button pocket sewn
at an angle, one on each side of breast. Nice use of stripes. It
contains the "Emsley New York" on the back inside collar. It is
not lined. On either side at the hem are slits that measure 9 1/2
inches. The back has two vented pleats that extend to the hem. Back
yoke shoulder to shoulder measures 16 inches with button down collar.
Waste measures 32 inches. This piece is in excellent condition,
no signs of wear at all. It is a very nicely tailored jacket.
Polished black satin Western-style cut jacket. This piece has the
"Emsley of New York"label. It is lined with good quality lining
material with a large button to close. There is absolutely no wear
and tear on this jacket. It is in perfect condition, however it
could use to be pressed professionally, if you actually wanted to
There is no lettering
on the back of the jacket as the above photo implies.
Click on the photo to see what it says.
Ivory satin Western-style cut jacket (like the one above) with
the label from "Emsley of New York". It is lined with good quality
lining material with a large white abalone button to close. There
is some wear and tear, and a few stains, but remember, the jacket
is ivory. If you wanted to wear it, it needs to be cleaned and
pressed professionally. Again, notice the flashy lining. This
jacket was made with much of the same features as the one above
with slash pockets and the yoke outline in the back.
This is by far my favorite jacket in my collection because it is
so unusual. It is purple velvet with bell sleeves and a scalloped
hem. It also contains both labels on the inside right breast from
"Emsley of New York" and "Styled for Miles Davis". And again with
some wild print for lining as you can see in a lot of his choices
of fabric. It measures 26 inches from the back collar to bottom
scallop. It has three snaps at the front closing. It is in perfect
I often wonder to what kind of occasions Miles would have wore this.
I can see Prince wearing this!
This navy blue suede leather jacket has no label. It has white leather
lacing for accents. It also has long navy blue leather strips hanging
from various points from the top of the collar and waist where the
jacket opens. The sleeves and bottom of the jacket were left the
way the leather naturally ended in an irregular hem. It measures
28 inches from the back collar to the bottom hem. It appears that
is could be worn either on the leather or suede side.
Below is a black velvet, size 32, full length belted coat which
does not have the Miles Davis label, however it does have the "Emsley
of New York" label on the inside left breast with pocket. It has
a pocket on either side at the hip that are velvet lined. Of course,
again, the lining is wild. Got to love his style even though his
personal label isn't in this coat. This coat is in perfect condition.
This black leather, double breasted, full length coat measures 44
inches from collar to hem. It appears to be very well made with
good quality black lining. It has a belted waist with slash pockets.
This coat is in excellent condition. When buttoned, the waist appears
to be 29 inches. This coat does not have Miles' private label in
it but was among the pile of clothes I bought from the lady with
the thrift shop, and I think I've found a picture of him wearing
it, which I posted at the blog. The label reads:
This piece is now in the Grammy
One of my favorites . . .
is a sheepskin (reversible) coat that features faux spots. It doesn't
have either of the labels, but I have found pictures of Miles actually
wearing it and even matched up the spots! Check
out the photos at my Miles Davis Threads Blog. The
leather side has two beaded medallions found on the outside of the
sleeve. It appears to be size 32, like many of the other Miles coats
Last but not least --
and beaver vest. I am not an expert on furs, but the leopard is
the real deal and I think the back is trimmed beaver. The piece
is finished with a gold/olive cording. However, if you look closely,
you will notice that the bobbin stitching for the cording was done
with black thread and quite irregular. This might indicate that
Miles purchased it from a shop or vendor while on his travels in
Europe. Another thought is that someone made it for him or possibly
gave it to him as a gift. That is just my speculation. The lining
type is unknown to me, but resembles some sort of linen with a waxy
finish. There is a pocket in the front left breast area that goes
all the way to the bottom of the vest. It's almost like the pocket
is bottomless or a secret pocket. When you look at the front of
the vest it appears as if the opening to the pocket was a tear in
the fur, but it is the opening to the pocket. There is also a leopard
pocked stitched on the front to contrast the chestnut colored beaver
fur. It is 20 1/4 inches from the end of the sleeve opening across
to the other side. There is one small tear in the fur near the front
leopard pocket and the "V" opening has slight wear.
If you would like more
information on any of these pieces,
please email mazigrace at gmail dot com or dwplatt at gmail dot
(except album cover) Copyright Grace Kirkwood 2009 and beyond