Cream satin embroidered waistcoat in chenille; lined twilled cotton and linen fronts each in one section, fastening from round neck to just below waist with fifteen silk thread buttons (one missing) and buttonholes; pocket,twilled linen and cotton,each side at waist,with shaped flap; back in two sections,flared skirt open from waist at side and centre back seams;front edges and skirt lined finely corded cream silk; additional corded silk section inserted in side seams; long sleeves in two sections with corded silk underarm section extending to elbow and with narrow gusset under arm, open for 6 ins.from wrist at outer arm; front and front bottom edges,pocket flaps and surrounds,and bottom edges of sleeves embroidered with heavy floral design in chenille, in shades of pink,red,green and blue, worked in laid thread, with some yellow silk worked in french knots. The substantial added wadding below the left arm (only) in this waistcoat clearly suggests remedial padding to remedy some physical defect: see Costume, vol 17 (1983): Lesley Edwards: Retrospective Diagnosis of an Eighteenth Century Waistcoat (pp. 59-63)

Display Label

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.

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