Ensemble, designer unknown

Ensemble, designer unknown

Ensemble (waistcoat with suit and top hat)
Designer unknown
1845-55, and 1871
Great Britain
Jacquard-woven silk, covered buttons, lined with cotton and backed with scrim, foreparts lined with leather (waistcoat)
Museum no. T.10-1951(waistcoat); T.47-1947 (frock coat)
Waistcoat given by Miss W. Shaw

This is an excellent example of a double-breasted frock coat. The jacket, trousers and waistcoat that comprised the suit could be of one colour and were then known as 'dittos'. Alternatively, a contrasting waistcoat and trousers were often worn to add colour and variety to the outfit. This style continued until the 20th century and became identified as the city business man's suit of black coat, striped trousers and bowler hat (replacing the top hat).

Just visible over the collar of the frock coat is a bright waistcoat. In the 19th century waistcoats tended to be one of the more elaborate and colourful pieces of the male wardrobe, which is partly why they survive in relatively large numbers. They might also have been kept for their decorative quality or for sentimental reasons when they went out of fashion.

Floral designs such as this were fashionable in the 1840s and 1850s. In this example a delicate pattern of vine leaves and speedwell is jacquard-woven in blue and cream giving a variety of textural effects.