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  • Place of origin:

    Spitalfields (woven)

  • Date:

    ca. 1734 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, brocaded with coloured silks and silver thread

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 1

Object Type
The waistcoat was an essential part of a gentleman's dress in the 18th century. It was worn with a coat and breeches, and typically made of a contrasting colour and fabric. The waistcoat was often the most decorative item in a man's wardrobe, and surviving examples in museums reveal a wide range of exquisite fabrics and elaborate decorative techniques.

Materials & Making
A brown ribbed silk is richly brocaded with coloured silks, chenille and silver threads. The dense pattern of large flowers is typical of the 1730s, and corresponds to similar designs found in embroidery of the period. The lavish use of metal thread extends to the buttons, which are composed of a wooden core covered with silver foil and thread.

When the waistcoat was introduced in the late 17th century, almost all were sleeved. As the 18th century progressed and coat sleeves became tighter, waistcoats became sleeveless for ease of movement. The inclusion of sleeves on this example suggests that it was a more formal garment, and allows the wearer to show off its lavish fabric at the cuffs.

Physical description

Man's waistcoat of brocaded silk with designs of fantastic flowers.

Place of Origin

Spitalfields (woven)


ca. 1734 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk, brocaded with coloured silks and silver thread


Height: 99 cm, Width: 40.5 cm

Object history note

Made from silk woven in Spitalfields, London

Descriptive line

Man's waistcoat, silk brocaded with coloured silk, woven in Spitalfields, ca. 1734

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This sleeved waistcoat was intended to be worn under a coat. The elaborate silk is rich with silver thread. It would have been expensive, and so it has been used only for the parts which would show: the waistcoat fronts, the back skirts and a wide band at each wrist. [27/03/2003]


Clothing; Fashion; British Galleries; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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