Buy our pattern for this perfect Regency waistcoat.
Full size paper patterns for Men's Waistcoats for the 1780s and 1790s with and without collar. Single- and double-breasted versions both included.
Fits chests 34"-54". All sizes included in one envelope. Embellishment suggestions included.
lightweight silk or linen for lining
heavy linen or canvas for interlining and back
2 yds at least 45" wide
(1 yard each if making plain linen back)
Up to 20 1/2" buttons for front closure
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Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:
By the end of the 18th century, the frock coat had transformed. Not only did the skirts continue to narrow until the didn’t show in front at all and the cuffs become smaller, but the materials and decoration of the coat became dark and sober. In a reversal from the previous decades, the front no longer only hooked over the breast, but closed in front along a straight edge. Double-breasted coats also came into use. Padding in the chest had disappeared. Fronts were cut away in gentle slopes as well as dramatic straight waistlines. Decoration was gone; coats relied on the beauty of well-made wools in dark somber colours. Collars were sometimes ridiculously high and coat fronts were turned back into large revers (lapels), but the overall look of the Regency Frock Coat was one of restraint.
Waistcoats changed too. Necklines came close to the neck, often with small stand collars. Front openings became straight and double-breasted versions were common. Revers were faced with contrasting fabric that would show if the revers were worn open. The bottom of the waistcoat now ended at the natural waist, in keeping with the cut-away fronts of the frock coat. Taking up the yoke of colourful decoration, at the turn of the 19th century waistcoats became the one place a man could still show elaborate embroidery and bright colours. Thus was born the dress element that survives today in three piece suits.
The typical cut and variations in waistcoats are demonstrated admirably by two waistcoats in the collections of the Swedish Royal Armoury. On the left is a chartreuse silk single-breasted waistcoat embroidered with silk, metal wire, and silk ribbons. The waistcoat is cut straight on the bottom as well as at the front opening. It closes with 14 covered buttons. The shaped pocket flaps of the previous decades are gone and have been replaced with straight pocket slits decorated with a welt. The lining and back of the waistcoat are plain linen.
On the right is a faded pink silk double-breasted waistcoat decorated with thin strips of blue and black velvet and decorative borders of stars and dots. Again the bottom is straight across at the waist and the pockets are parallel to the bottom. This one, however, sports a stand collar that does not quite reach around fully to the front and the top few buttons are left open and the revers turned back to reveal decoration inside the front opening as well. Past the front facings which match the outer material, the waistcoat is lined with ruched cotton and the back width may be adjusted by three ribbon laces.
The sartorial perfection of this time period is demonstrated by Jean-Louis Davis in his portrait of Monsieur de Sériziat from 1795, shown at right. Pierre Sériziat is a Frenchman and yet in this portrait we see him attired as an English country gentleman. He sits on his dark green riding cloak with gold-braided collar, but the rest of his costume is dark and subdued. He wears a black high-collared, double-breasted coat, white double-breasted waistcoat, and skin-tight, chamois-coloured fall-front breeches. Boots, crop and hat complete the outfit, giving the impression that he is more ready for a canter on his estate than a stroll in the city. His waistcoat is double breasted and open to the bottom of the sternum, the top turned back into revers and the space filled in with his white cravat. It is impossible to see if the waistcoat has a collar or not.
If we take changes in clothing as an indication of changes in social concepts, it is not surprising that this is the outfit that heralded the rise of the middle class, the beginning of the change from an agrarian to an industrial society and the start of the idea of the working rich.
Andersen, Ellen. Moden i 1700-årene. 1977: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen.
Baumgarten, Linda. Eighteenth-Century Clothing at Williamsburg. 1986: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia.
Boucher, François. 20,000 Years of Fashion. 1987: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York.
Burnston, Sharon Ann. Fitting & Proper. 1998: Scurlock Publishing Co. Inc., Texarkana, TX.
Payne, Blanche. History of Costume. 1965: Harper Collins, New York.
Ribeiro, Aileen. Art in Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750-1820. 1995: Yale University Press, New Haven, CT and London.
Waugh, Norah. Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900. 1964: Routledge, New York.
For more, purchase this pattern.
This information © 2007 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History