Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/56

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servant would be little inclined to think that he wears his cockade on the left side to give his sword-arm full liberty.

Coats.—Every one must have noticed the nick in the folded collar of the coat and of the waistcoat; this is of course made to allow for the buttoning round the neck, but it is in the condition of a rudimentary organ, for the nick would probably not come into the right place, and in the waistcoat at least there are usually neither the requisite buttons nor button-holes.

"The modern gentleman's coat may be said to take its origin from the vest, or long outer garment, worn toward the end of the reign of Charles II."[1] This vest seems to have had no gathering at the waist, and to have been buttoned all down the front, and in shape rather like a loose bag; to facilitate riding it was furnished with a slit behind, which could be buttoned up at pleasure; the button-holes were embroidered, and, in order to secure similarity of embroidery on each side of the slit, the buttons were sewn on to a strip of lace matching the corresponding button-hole on the other side. These buttons and button-holes left their marks in the coats of a century later in the form of gold lacing on either side of the slit of the tails.

In about the year 1700, it began to be the fashion to gather in the vest or coat at the waist, and it seems that this was first done by two buttons near the hips being buttoned to loops rather nearer to the edge of the coat, and situated at about the level of the waist. Our soldiers much in the same manner now make a waist in their loose overcoats, by buttoning a short strap to two buttons, placed a considerable distance apart on the back.

This old fashion is illustrated in a figure dressed in the costume of 1696, in an old illustration of the "Tale of the Tub," and also in the figure of a dandy smelling a nosegay, in Hogarth's picture, entitled "Here Justice triumphs in his Easy-Chair," etc., as well as elesewhere. Engravings of this transition period of dress are, however, somewhat rare, and it is naturally not common to be able to get a good view of the part of the coat under the arms. This habit of gathering in the waist will, I think, explain how it was that, although the buttons and button-holes were retained down the front edges, the coat came to be worn somewhat open in front.

The coat naturally fell in a number of plaits or folds below these hip-buttons; but in most of Hogarth's pictures, although the buttons and plaits remain, yet the creases above the buttons disappear, and seams appear to run from the buttons up under the arms. It may be worth mentioning that in all such matters of detail Hogarth's accuracy is notorious, and that therefore his engravings are most valuable for the study of the dress of the period. At the end of the seventeenth, and at the beginning of the eighteenth centuries, coats seem very commonly to have been furnished with slits running from the edge of the

  1. Fairholt, p. 479.