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Waistcoat shape

Waistcoat shape

  • Place of origin:

    France (possibly, made)
    Great Britain (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, silver-gilt thread, hand woven

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss Anne Thirlwall Davies and Mrs Sandra Thirlwall Jones in memory of their beloved mother, Mrs Frances Grace Davies

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Fabrics woven or embroidered specifically to be made into waistcoats were common in the 18th century, and known as ‘waistcoat shapes’. In this example, the narrow length of silk has been brocaded with coloured silks and silver-gilt thread in the shape of two waistcoat fronts and two pocket flaps. Such a fabric would have been purchased at the silk mercer’s or haberdasher’s shop and taken to a tailor to be cut out and made into a waistcoat. The backs of 18th century waistcoats were usually a plain wool or linen, and with very careful cutting and piecing of the brocaded silk, a splendid waistcoat could be fashioned.

The regular arrangement of the floral design here suggests the influence of Neo-Classicism. However the skirt of the waistcoat, fairly deep for 1780, indicates that it was worn for quite a formal occasion and is therefore conservative in style.

Physical description

A length of oyster-coloured figured silk, brocaded with silver-gilt thread and coloured silks, in the shape of 2 waistcoat fronts and 2 pocket flaps.

Place of Origin

France (possibly, made)
Great Britain (possibly, made)


ca. 1780 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk, silver-gilt thread, hand woven


Length: 139.4 cm approx., Width: 54.0 cm selvage to selvage

Descriptive line

Waistcoat shape, oyster-coloured figured silk brocaded with silver-gilt thread and coloured silks, France or Great Britain, ca. 1780


Silk; Silver-gilt thread


Hand weaving; Brocaded


Textiles; Clothing


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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