Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of the International Business Machine Corporation, 1960
Not on view
Waistcoats of the 18th and 19th centuries served as a layer protection and ornamentation during a period in fashion when the coat was intended to be left open in the front. The color was often chosen to complement the suit and covered in imaginative embroideries, heavily woven patterns or shiny satins made to draw the eye. The style of the neck, the length and the hem treatment fluctuated as the tastes changed from over-sized coats of the early 18th century to narrow tightly fitted coats of the late 18th century and onward.
This very elegant vest is indicative of the taste for very high stand collars alongside double-breasted waist-length styles which came into focus near the end of the 18th century. The use of satin is flashy next to the elaborately embroidered waistcoats of the previous century, and shows their fashionable continuation as a decorative element in the male wardrobe. The embroidered flowers are a remnant of the styles of the previous century and indicate the transition into the heavily patterned woven textiles used for vests in the 1820s.