Dressing Up, Dressing Down

Back to Dressing up, Dressing down

coat 1954.1106
coat side 1954.1106
coat back 1954.1106
coat sleeve 1954.1106
suit 1954.962

This man's coat is a very remarkable survival, not only because it is an early garment, but also because it is made out of wool which was spun and woven at home and not professionally manufactured. The fabric is straight off the loom and has not been finished or dyed, and the garment is unlined so that it feels and looks rather primitive, resembling sacking. Nevertheless this simple cloth has been constructed into a very fashionably cut coat with deep pocket flaps, wide cuffs and full pleats in the coat-skirts. Remarkably, it exhibits all the fashionable elements for a man's coat of the 1740s, made in a fabric worthy of the stable! The fashionable woven silk suit below, dating from a little later, shows how accurate the silhouette has been achieved in this unsophisticated wool.

Although unfortunately we do not know the wearer, the wool fibres are Scottish in provenance, and it is tempting to imagine a smallholder or croft-farmer making his own cloth and then commissioning a family member or an itinerant tailor to produce a coat for him to an up-to-date fashionable design. He would, no doubt, have been proud to have worn something that was the product of his own endeavour, and it was a way for someone of severely limited means to afford to dress smartly and fashionably.

Full item descriptions:

"coat" [1954.1106]
"suit" [1954.962]

Related Themes:

Materials and Making
18th Century Men's Fashion