Man’s embroidered silk satin suit, 1780s

This exquisite man’s suit shows a stark contrast between areas that would be seen and those that would be concealed. The coat is intricately embroidered particularly along the front opening; however, the interior is lined with a relatively coarse linen lining.

While the coat is the most visible element of the suit, the waistcoat is only seen along the center front where the coat opens. The back of the waistcoat is therefore made of much less costly material, in this case linen. The stitching on the linen is rather crudely done – widely spaced and not overly neat. Because this garment was not worn against the skin, it would not get heavy wear nor be washed so time was not wasted in fine workmanship.

Although the 18th century suit is an easily recognizable style, the shape of the breeches is unfamiliar. The cut of these breeches differs strikingly from the style of modern trousers. The breeches were only visible along the center front and below the hem of the coat, so the fullness in the rear is rarely seen. All three pieces of the suit include pockets. Those for the coat and waistcoat are conspicuously embroidered, while those for the breeches would not be seen at all when the suit was worn. Although normally hidden from view, these breeches have several flaps and panels that form three pockets on each side for a total of six!

  1. Embroidered silk satin coat, waistcoat and breeches
    English, 1780s
    Silk satin, silk embroidery, linen lining
    Silverman/Rodgers Collection, KSUM 1983.1.22 a-c

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