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18th century lady's waistcoat



#1822   Sold

Brocaded silk faille lady's waistcoat, c.1770

Ladies' waistcoats or vests were worn in the Middle Ages for warmth. In the 18th century they were again borrowed from gentlemen's suits to serve several different functions.

Boned waistcoats with sleeves were worn under the open robe à l'Anglaise to fill in the front. Waistcoats that buttoned up the front were part of the riding habit. Finally, soft waistcoats without boning were worn for comfort indoors with a loose jacket and skirt. The plain back of this waistcoat suggests that it was worn with a jacket.

The cone-shaped waistcoat fronts are fashioned from brocaded peach corded silk. From a distance, the texture of the corded weave resembles very fine line-quilting. The plain back and straps of silk shantung match the color of the fronts. The waistcoat is lined with beige linen. The edges are bound with matching silk ribbon. Everything is hand stitched.

The ripe peach hue is gorgeous! The silk ground is covered with brocaded flowers in shades of rose, green, blue, and ivory. What a delicate, feminine floral design! This beautiful garment, which has no known provenance, speaks to us across the ages, providing an intimate snapshot of an elegant lady from long ago.

The waistcoat is practical, yes, but also delightful to the eyes of an intimate friend. Did the wearer ever listen to her lover recite these lines of the then fashionable poet Andrew Marvel?

An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest...

The condition is excellent and all original.

With the fronts touching, it measures: 34" bust, 30" waist, and 18" from the shoulder to the hem.

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