Waistcoat

1610-1620 (made)
Waistcoat thumbnail 1
Waistcoat thumbnail 2
+24
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Embroidered waistcoats were worn as formal dress by women of the gentry and informal dress by aristocratic women. They were long-sleeved upper garments, opening down the front and fitted at the waist using inserted gores. Waistcoatswere worn with petticoats (skirts) and loose gowns over the top, accessorised with fine lace cuffs and ruffs or bands (collars). The tight-fitting sleeves and natural waistline of this example suggest a date between 1610 and 1620.

While a number of embroidered linen waistcoats survive in museum collections, this is an unusual example of one made of silk. Its embroidery pattern follows the characteristic design of this period, with scrolling stems. However the floral motifs are quite abstract, moving away from the naturalism typical in embroidery in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

The waistcoat has been altered twice, first to reduce the fullness below the waist. The second alteration was in increase the width across the back and around the armholes, either for the original wearer or for another larger person.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread, silver; hand-sewn and hand-embroidered
Brief Description
Woman's waistcoat of silk, 1610-1620, English; embroidered with blue silk & spangles
Physical Description
A waistcoat of pink silk taffeta embroidered with couched blue silk thread and silver spangles in a repeating pattern of scrolls and abstract floral motif. The waistline is at the natural level, with gores inserted at the hem. The sleeves are long and tight-fitting, with shoulder wings and semi-circular cuffs. The silk is backed with and embroidered through coarse unbleached linen, and faced and part-lined with blue silk taffeta. Fastening the front are five bows of alternating blue and pink silk ribbon.
Dimensions
  • Overall, approx. length: 56.6cm
  • Bust, approx. circumference: 81cm
  • Waist, approx. circumference: 73.5cm
Style
Summary
Embroidered waistcoats were worn as formal dress by women of the gentry and informal dress by aristocratic women. They were long-sleeved upper garments, opening down the front and fitted at the waist using inserted gores. Waistcoatswere worn with petticoats (skirts) and loose gowns over the top, accessorised with fine lace cuffs and ruffs or bands (collars). The tight-fitting sleeves and natural waistline of this example suggest a date between 1610 and 1620.



While a number of embroidered linen waistcoats survive in museum collections, this is an unusual example of one made of silk. Its embroidery pattern follows the characteristic design of this period, with scrolling stems. However the floral motifs are quite abstract, moving away from the naturalism typical in embroidery in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.



The waistcoat has been altered twice, first to reduce the fullness below the waist. The second alteration was in increase the width across the back and around the armholes, either for the original wearer or for another larger person.
Bibliographic References
  • John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.79
  • Tiramani, Jenny, 'Pink Silk Waistcoat', in North, Susan and Jenny Tiramani, eds, Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns, vol.1, London: V&A Publishing, 2011, pp.34-47
Collection
Accession Number
179-1900

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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