The Gallery
Contact Us

Gentlemen's Costume

Men's Silk Dressing Robe
English, c. 1830-40

By the mid-nineteenth century, dressing gowns for men were a well-established component of their informal, at-home wardrobe.  This example made of block-printed Indian silk reflects the Eastern origins of this type of garment in its overall shape, technique, and palette. Initially imported into Europe from India in the early seventeenth century, banyans (as they were known in England) became highly fashionable and were widely adopted by gentlemen of leisure, often figuring in eighteenth-century portraits of the well-to-do, intellectuals and artists.  The loose fit and thin, soft silk of this dressing gown with its simple button closure convey its use as a comfortable alternative to the much more tailored wool coats of the period. The brilliant shades of red and yellow are traditional throughout India as are block-printed designs. The stylized sprig pattern in the red stripes is similar to the filling motifs seen in woven cashmere shawls, another type of Indian textile that was highly admired and sought after in the West.


  Man's Silk Dressing Robe
Men's Undress Cap
English, early 18th c.
  Men's Undress Cap  

Beneath the elaborate wigs that fashionable men wore from the mid-seventeenth to the late eighteenth century, their heads were usually shaved. While relaxing at home, an informal hat kept their heads warn. These undress caps took a number of forms and were constructed from luxurious silks, velvets, and wools. Humbler versions, such as this example made of fine cotton with undyed natural silk tambour embroidery, rarely survive. The technique is characteristic of the skilled embroiderers working in the area of Bengal on the northeastern coast of India. The shape is indebted to earlier Tudor and Elizabethan caps, which were often constructed from four pointed quarters joined along their curved edges. This cap was made from four triangular quadrants of white cotton, embroidered identically with stylized branches, blossoms, and leaves and accented with a border of serpentine guilloche on the wide up-turned brim. The separate pattern pieces were first embroidered on one side, and then flipped over and worked on the other so that the embroidery would show around the entire circumference of the cap with a minimum of cutting.





Silk Petit Point Suspenders
English, 1840s

Men's suspenders of the nineteenth century were often highly decorative accessories and would have complimented the colorful waistcoats with which they were worn. This pair, embroidered in silk thread on a silk canvas ground, reflects the English love of the garden and flowering plants with its continuous band of carnations, bluebells, bleeding heart, pansies, morning glories, and daffodils. Many women's fashion periodicals of the mid-nineteenth century included patterns for a variety of accessories—including suspenders—and it may well be that this pair was made by a woman for a male relative. A nice touch, given that it would not have been seen, is the use of a self-figured ivory silk ribbon with a leafy vine on the reverse side.



  Silk Petit Point Suspenders

Home | Gallery | Services | Calendar | Affiliations | Listing | Catalogues | Newsletter | Ordering | Contact Us | Resources | Credits

Copyright©2002-2017 Cora Ginsburg LLC. All Rights Reserved.