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!
- Embroidered silk satin coat, waistcoat and breeches
Silk satin, silk embroidery, linen lining
Silverman/Rodgers Collection, KSUM 1983.1.22 a-c
1770s man’s embroidered silk satin suit, KSUM 1983.1.22
When worn, the inside of the coat’s tails would be very visible. These areas are faced in beautiful silk satin. The upper back and sleeve linings were not visible so they were lined in a relatively coarse linen.
The facing of the coat tails was stitched in small and regular, but visible stitches.
The embroidery along the tails continues into the folds.
The edges of the waistcoat along the neck are finished with a facing of silk satin, but the back of the piece is made from a coarse linen. The seam along the center back is felled although the hand stitching is relatively widely spaced.
The front of the waistcoat is finished with deep facings of silk satin similar to those of the coat.
The seam along the back of the waistcoat is sturdy although not as neat as the more visible seams, such as those along the bottom and front edges.
The hem of the back of the waistcoat is finished without the luxurious facing that backs the front. The side seams have a very large seam allowance, suggesting either that the piece has been taken in or that extra was provided in case it needs to be let out.
The lowest buttonhole has been carefully placed on a seam. The facing for each side is made from two pieces in order to minimize the amount of satin fabric that is used.
The embroidery on the buttons is done before cutting the satin. The circles were then cut out and used to cover the buttons.
The cut of these breeches differs strikingly from the style of modern trousers. The complicated flaps and panels conceal a total of 6 pockets!
This image shows the two pockets on the right side of the breeches. The full back of the breeches is also partially visible here. the cut of the breeches is very different from modern trousers.
When the buttons at the knee of the breeches are unbuttoned, the pink selvedge edge of the satin is visible. The inclusion of the selvedge indicates that the tailor used the entire width of fabric. It also makes the edge easier to finish since the selvedge will not unravel.
A look into the knee opening of the breeches shows the linen lining. The bottom edge curves up at the back of the knee then dips lower at the outside.
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