Miles 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.

Special Note: This jacket had been 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! Research by my husband Doug has 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, I have shortened a google search to the following convenient url:

Miles Davis – Miles Davis was one of the 20th Century’s most creative artists changing the sound of popular music many times in his six decade career. His musical experimentation beginning in the late 60’s created a fusion of jazz with rock and roll, soul, funk and hip hop.



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 it.


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 wear it.

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 condition. I often wonder to what kind of occasions Miles would have wore 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:
Kongelig Hofleverandor
Siden 1817



One of my favorites . . .

This 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 and jackets.


Last but not least --

A leopard 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 com.

All photos (except album cover) Copyright Grace Kirkwood 2009 and beyond