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Court suit

Court suit

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1899 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lamb, Edward (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Velvet suit with silk lining and cut steel buttons, cotton shirt and suspenders, machine-knitted silk stockings, patent leather shoes and beaver hat

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sydney Vacher

  • Museum number:

    T.61 to C, F to L-1918

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125b, case 3 []

Object Type
Despite the changes in fashion during the 19th century, court suits resemble the type of clothes a late 18th-century gentleman might have worn. They were cut in the style of fashionable 1790s men's dress, with waistcoat, tailcoat, knee-breeches worn with silk stockings, buckled shoes, a sword with a cut-steel hilt and a bicorne hat.

Ownership & Use
Court suits were worn for important cermonial occasions and at court. Sydney Vacher wore this court suit for the laying of the foundation stone of the Victoria and Albert Museum on 17 May 1899. On 28 April 1918 he wrote offering it to the Museum:

'It has just struck me would the Museum accept my Civic costume I wore at the laying of the foundation stone of the Museum. It is the ordinary civilian's black velvet with steel buttons ... I don't see that I shall have any further use for it. The material is English Silk Velvet and I had it made up for me.'

Design & Designing
After 1869 new regulations were introduced for gentlemen's court dress. The cut and form of the this style of suit were much the same as before, but the coat and breeches were usually made of black velvet instead of dark cloth. Waistcoats also tended to be made of plain white silk or black velvet.

By 1900 there were two main designs for court dress. This court suit is an example of the 'new style', which included a black velvet tailcoat which was worn open. The 'old style' consisted of a velvet frock coat with fronts sloping back from the waist, stand collar and black silk wig-bag.

In the early 20th century an alternative to these two styles was a cloth coat of mulberry, claret or green with matching breeches, and white waistcoat. The coat collar, cuffs and pocket flaps were decorated with gold embroidery.

Physical description

Velvet suit with silk lining and cut steel buttons, cotton shirt and suspenders, machine-knitted silk stockings, patent leather shoes and beaver hat

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1899 (made)

Artist/maker

Lamb, Edward (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Velvet suit with silk lining and cut steel buttons, cotton shirt and suspenders, machine-knitted silk stockings, patent leather shoes and beaver hat

Dimensions

Length: 130 cm

Object history note

Made by Edward Lamb, Military Tailor, 111 Jermyn Street, St James's, London, for Sydney Vacher, who wore it at the laying of the foundation stone of the Museum on 17 May 1899

s. T.61-1918 (CoAt); T.61A-1918 (wAistCoAt); T.61B-1918 (BreeChes); T.61C-1918 (hAt); T.61D-1918 (sworD); T.61F-1918 (sworD Belt); T.61G&h-1918 (stoCkinGs); T.61i&j-1918 (shoes); T.61l-1918 (suspenDers)

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Court dress was worn for royal, ceremonial occasions. It did not change in line with fashion as did the rest of men's clothes. By 1900 there were two main styles. This is an example of the 'new style' which included a black velvet tailcoat. The 'old style' was based on an 18th-century frock coat. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Velvet; Steel; Silk; Cotton; Patent leather; Beaver

Techniques

Tailoring

Categories

Fashion; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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