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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1710-1720 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk damask lined with fustian and silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case 2

Object Type
Waistcoats were part of the three-piece ensemble that made up men's dress in the 18th century. At the beginning of the 18th entury, waistcoats often had sleeves and were usually as long as the coat that was worn over them. This example is unusual in that the silk has been used for the back as well as the front. Normally, the expensive, decorative fabrics were reserved only for the front. Waistcoat backs were usually made of fustian (a blend of cotton or linen) or some cheaper fabric, since the back was never seen in public.

Materials & Making
The waistcoat is hand-sewn and lined with fustian. The buttonholes are sewn with silver thread.

Ownership & Use
The monochrome colour, simplicity of weave and scant use of metal thread indicate that the waistcoat was intended for informal wear. It would not have been worn at court or to formal public events.

Designs & Designing
The silk is a damask weave in a large pattern of trailing leaves and abstract geometrical shapes. (Damask is a type of weave whose effect depends on the differing play of light on its pattern surfaces, which alternate between the smooth face and the contrasting reverse of satin weave.) It is similar to patterns designed for damask by the silk designer James Leman in 1708. These patterns by Leman and other designers are known as 'bizarre silks'.

Physical description

Man's sleeved waistcoat of white silk damask, lined with fustian and silk. The buttonholes are sewn with silver thread.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1710-1720 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk damask lined with fustian and silk


Length: 89 cm neck to hem, Width: 96 cm maximum

Object history note

Made in England

Descriptive line

Man's sleeved waistcoat of silk damask lined with fustian and silk, England, 1710-1720

Labels and date

British Galleries:
A gentleman wore this waistcoat informally during the day, with a plain coat and breeches. The coat would have been left open to display the fashionably patterned silk (see photograph), with the waistcoat buttoned at the waist to show off his shirt and ruffles. [27/03/2003]


Fashion; Men's clothes; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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