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waistcoat detail 1953.455
waistcoat 1953.455
waistcoat seam 1953.455
waistcoat bit 1953.455
waistcoat pocket 1952.357

Decoration on men's clothing in the eighteenth century could be highly florid, extravagant, exaggerated and flamboyant, mirroring in design the large-scale floral patterns popular for women's woven dress silks. This example has been lavishly embroidered with heavy chenille threads in a bold multi-coloured design, aimed to impress with colour and texture, and to draw the eye to the masculine chest below. The mid eighteenth century fashion-conscious male had no intention of being over-shadowed by his female companion!

Waistcoats like this were invariably embroidered "in the piece", that is as flat separate sections, which could then be assembled and stitched together to fit the individual wearer. For this quality of embroidery, the workers were often professional, frequently French, usually male, and highly skilled. Sometimes, however, experienced amateur female embroiderers also produced such items as a present for loved ones, to exhibit their needlework skills, and as a special token of affection. The pocket detail from another, but later, eighteenth century waistcoat, also shows superb embroidery.

Full item descriptions:

"waistcoat" [1953.455]
"court waistcoat" [1952.357]

Related Themes:

18th Century Men's Fashion