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Suit

  • Place of origin:

    France (possibly, woven)
    England (suit, sewing)
    England (possibly, woven)

  • Date:

    1750s (woven)
    1750s (sewing)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, linen, buckram, horsehair; hand-woven, figured silk, hand-sewn

  • Museum number:

    T.137 to B-1932

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This formal man’s suit of the 1750s is silk, patterned in cerise and cream. The design of diagonal scrolls with small floral motifs is typical of the patterns used for men's clothing, and could have been woven in England or France. Such a luxurious material would have been worn for the most formal evening occasions, such as theatre or the opera. The lack of additional decoration in the form of embroidery or appliedwoven metal lace indicates that it is made and worn in England. The silk is fairly lightweight, which suggests the suit was intended for summer wear. The deep pleats, open cuff, buttons and buttonholes running from neck to hem on the coat, and lack of fall front on the breeches, are characteristic of formal suits of the 1750s.

Physical description

A man's coat, waistcoat and breeches of figured cerise and cream silk. The coat has a round neckline, bound with a narrow strip of silk. The two-piece, shaped sleeves widen toward the cuff, ending above the wrist with a deep, open cuff (16 cm at top, 19.5 cm at bottom). The coat is cut close to the torso, curving from neck to hem. Wide skirts extend below the hips, arranged in 2 pleats on the front and 2 on the back (22 cm) at the side seams. There is an inverted pleat on each side of the opening at centre back. There is a scalloped pocket flap at hip level on each coat front. The pockets are lined with bleached linen; the rest of the coat is lined with white silk. The cuffs and pocket flaps are interlined with buckram, the front edges and front skirts probably with horsehair. Twenty one silk-covered buttons on the right front correspond with 21 buttonholes on the left front, the top 13 are cut. There are 6 buttonholes on the pocket flaps, the centre 4 are uncut, with 6 buttons on the coat below. There are 5 uncut buttonholes on each cuff, with 6 buttons stitch through to the sleeve. There is one button at the top of the side pleats, another holdinge front and back pleats together above the hem, and 2 more on the back pleats at the sides. Nine uncut buttonholes edge each side of the back vent.

The waistcoat is made of 2 fronts and 2 backs of the figured silk. The neckline is round and bound with a narrow strip of silk. The waistcoat is cut close to the torso, curving from neck to hem. At the front the wide skirts reach to mid-thigh. There is a scalloped pocket flap at hip level on each front. The waistcoat is lined with white silk; the front skirts and front edges are interlined with buckram. Twenty small, silk-covered buttons on the right front correspond with 20 buttonholes on the left, the top 15 uncut. There are six buttonholes on each pocket flap, worked in yellow silk (all others on all 3 garments are worked in mixed strandes of cerise and cream silk), the centre 4 are uncut. There are 6 small silk buttons on the coat below.

The legs of the breeches are cut in 2 fronts and 2 backs with the waistband in 2 pieces. The backs are higher than the fronts and gathered into the waistband. There is no fall front. There are 3 pockets: one in the waistband and one in the waistband/front leg seam on each side, with a pocket flap. The centre front fastens with 4 buttons (2 large on the waistband, 2 small on the leg) on the right side, 2 buttonholes on the left waistband and 2 on a strip sewn to the centre of the left front leg. At the knee on each side are 5 buttonholes on the front leg and 5 buttons on the back leg. The knee is bound with a strip of silk extending into a band for the buckle. There are straps of silk on each side of the waistbands at centre back, for a buckle. The legs, waistbands and pockets are lined with bleached linen.

The waistcoat was enlarged at some point. The seam of the waistcoat and lining at centre back was unpicked from mid-back to waist, the lining and silk roughly tacked together and 3 pairs of linen tape ties added.

Place of Origin

France (possibly, woven)
England (suit, sewing)
England (possibly, woven)

Date

1750s (woven)
1750s (sewing)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silk, linen, buckram, horsehair; hand-woven, figured silk, hand-sewn

Descriptive line

A man's coat, waistcoat and breeches, 1750s, English; Figured cerise and cream silk, English or French 1750s

Materials

Silk (textile); Linen (material); Buckram; Horsehair

Techniques

Hand weaving; Hand sewing

Categories

Formal wear; Europeana Fashion Project; Men's clothes

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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