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  • Place of origin:

    France (textile, weaving)
    Great Britain (ensemble, sewing)

  • Date:

    1735 - 1740 (weaving)
    1735 - 1740 (sewing)
    1870 - 1910 (altered)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, linen, horsehair, wool, buckram, silk thread, linen thread; hand-woven, hand-sewn, passementerie

  • Museum number:

    T.614:1, 2-1996

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

TThe large and complex design of this fashionable French silk is an unusual design for a man’s suit. The wide sleeves and deep pleats of the coat, with buttons and buttonholes continuing to the hem are conservative features by the late 1730s, but appropriate for a formal suit. The layers of wool and buckram in the pleats made them stand out from the coat and swing rhythmically when the wearer walked. The buttons are made from a domed wooden core covered with beige silk thread and further adorned with tightly coiled silk cords, in a technique known as passementerie.

Physical description

A man's coat and breeches of oyster-coloured silk figured with ribbing and satin weave in a design of floral motifs with a shell-pattern ground. The coat has a round neck bound with a narrow strip of silk. The sleeves are cut wide in two curved pieces ending below the elbow, with square open cuffs. The body of the coat is cut to fit the torso to the hip, with wide skirts below and two pleats (ca. 24 cm deep) at front and back of the side openings. There is an inverted pleat either side of the centre back opening of the skirts. The centre front edges curve from neck to waist. There is a scalloped pocket flap at hip level on each coat front. There were 20 oyster-coloured silk passementerie buttons (4 now missing) on the right coat front and 20 buttonholes on the left coat front. Only the top button hole and 5 in the centre are cut. The pocket flaps have 5 buttonholes - the outside ones cut- with 5 corresponding buttons on the coat. There are 5 buttonholes at the top edge of each cuff; the cuffs held to the sleeve with 5 buttons. Four buttons secure the pleats at the side openings, and there are 9 uncut buttonholes on either side of the back vent. The sleeves are lined with linen. The coat body, cuffs, pocket flaps and pockets are lined with oyster-coloured silk twill. The front edges and skirts of the coat are interlined with buckram, and the skirts padded with two layers of wool with horsehair between.

The breeches are cut in 4 shaped pieces for the legs, with the waistband in two pieces. There were 3 buttons on the right front and 2 on the right waistband (all now replaced), with corresponding buttonholes on the left waistband and a strip of silk sewn to the left front of the breeches. The legs are fastened with 5 small oyster-coloured silk passementerie buttons on the back opening (one missing on the right leg and 3 missing on the left), and corresponding button holes on a strip of silk sewn the front legs. A band of dark yellow linen tape with a loop at one end and a button and tassel and the other, secures the bottom of the leg openings. There is a buttonhole at the centre back left waistband with a corresponding buckle band on the centre back right waistband. The waistbands are lined with linen. The legs are unlined, with the centre back and front seams and inside leg seams bound with silk twill tape. There is a watch pocket at the top of the right waistband, a pocket in the waistband/leg seam on each side and a pocket with a pocket flap on each leg. The pockets are all made of chamois leather.

A patch pocket of linen was crudely stitched in the inside of the coat on each side of the front, and the side and back seams taken in (now unpicked), probably for fancy dress or theatrical use.

Place of Origin

France (textile, weaving)
Great Britain (ensemble, sewing)


1735 - 1740 (weaving)
1735 - 1740 (sewing)
1870 - 1910 (altered)



Materials and Techniques

Silk, linen, horsehair, wool, buckram, silk thread, linen thread; hand-woven, hand-sewn, passementerie

Descriptive line

A man's coat and breeches, 1735-40, British; oyster figured silk, 1735-40, French; altered 1870-1910

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Hart, Avril and Susan North. Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries. London: V&A Publications, 1998, pp. 44 & 116


Silk (textile); Linen (material); Buckram; Horsehair; Wool (hair); Silk thread; Linen thread


Hand weaving; Hand sewing; Passementerie


Men's clothes; Textiles; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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