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Coat and breeches

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1790-1799 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, linen, cotton; hand-woven, velvet weave, hand-sewn

  • Museum number:

    136, 137-1880

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This ensemble illustrates fashionable formal dress for men in the 1770s. The fine silk velvet indicates that it was probably worn during the evening, at the theatre, opera or the always convivial Assembly Rooms located in the more fashionable towns and cities. This type of dark-coloured cut velvet was popular for formal evening dress in the 1790s. It was also used for Court dress, when lavishly embroidered. As befits the conservative nature of evening dress, the style of this suit is similar to day-wear in the 1780s, although by the 1790s coats for day wear had a high turn-down collar.

Physical description

A man’s formal coat and breeches of silk velvet with black cut pile and voided lilac and white in a pattern of lozenges. The coat has a 2-inch (5 cm) standing collar and curving, 2-piece sleeves ending in cuffs, 3½ inches (9 cm) deep. The fronts curve from neck to hem, with 1¾-inch ((4.4 cm) deeo pleats below the hip set beside the centre back. Each front has a pocket and shaped pocket flap; the centre-back seam is open below the hip. The back and sleeves are lined with fustian, the fronts, skirts and pocket flaps with ivory silk satin, the pockets with bleached linen. There are 11 worked buttonholes along the left front; only the 5th one from the top has been cut. There are 11 self-covered buttons on the right front and 1 at the top of the pleats.

The breeches comprise 2 fronts, two backs and 2 waistbands; the back legs are cut higher than the fronts. There is a watch pocket in each front waistband. The breeches close with buttoned front waistbands, a fall front and buckle band at the back. The waistbands, pockets and fall fronts are lined with linen; the legs are lined with line along the centre-back and centre-front seams. Three self-covered buttons fasten the waistband and 2, the fall front. There are 5 worked buttonholes and 5 self-covered buttons on the outside of each leg above the knee and a buckle knee band below.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1790-1799 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk, linen, cotton; hand-woven, velvet weave, hand-sewn

Descriptive line

Man's formal coat and breeches, British, 1790s, of silk velvet, black cut pile on voided lilac and white


Silk (textile); Linen (material); Fustian


Hand weaving; Velvet weave; Hand sewing


Clothing; Formal wear; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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