Dressing Up, Dressing Down

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engraving 1956.111
1770-1785 silk suit (1952.359)
1770-1785 silk suit detail (1952.359)
1770-1785 silk suit buttons (1952.359)

Whilst everyday clothes for men were increasingly made of wool from the 1770s, for formal occasions such as court events or official receptions and assemblies in regional towns, menswear remained much more sumptuous, decorated and colourful. Suits were made of rich silk satins and velvets, which were exquisitely and ornately embroidered with coloured silks in floral designs. Such suits were often professionally sewn by the piece in French workshops, then imported to England where they could be made-up and fitted to the wearer by an English tailor.

This court suit was probably worn by Sir John Stanley of Alderley, who was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to George lll. The museum also has five other suits from the same source, several of them equally highly embroidered. Such suits would have been worn with a fine ruffled linen shirt and cravat, white silk stockings and a black wool-felt bicorne hat as carried by the man in the fashion plate. They represent the height of eighteenth century elegance and opulence, when men were as elaborately dressed as women.

Full item descriptions:

"suit" [1952.359/3]

Related Themes:

Suits for Men & Women
18th Century Men's Fashion