Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/57

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45
DEVELOPMENT IN DRESS.

skirt, up under the arms, and these were made to button up, in a manner similar in all respects to the slit of the tails. The sword was usually worn under the coat, and the sword-hilt came through the slit on the left side. Later on these slits appear to have been sewed up, and the buttons and button-holes died away, with the exception of two or three buttons just at the tops of the slits; thus in coats of about the year 1705, it is not uncommon to see several buttons clustered about the tops of all three slits. The buttons at the top of the centre slit entirely disappeared, but the two buttons now on the backs of our coats trace their pedigree up to those on the hips. Thus it is not improbable that, although our present buttons represent those used for making the waist, as above explained, yet that they in part represent the buttons for fastening up these side-slits.

The folds which we now wear below the buttons on the back are the descendants of the falling plaits, notwithstanding that they appear as though they were made for, and that they are in fact commonly used as, the recesses for the tail-pockets; but that this was not their original object is proved by the fact that during the last century the pockets were either vertical or horizontal, placed a little in front of the two hip-buttons (which have since moved round toward the back), and had highly-embroidered flaps, buttons, and button-holes. The horizontal pockets may now be traced in the pocket-flaps of court-dress before alluded to; and the vertical pocket is represented by some curious braiding and a row of buttons, which may be observed on the tails of the tunics of the Foot-Guards. The details of the manner in which this last rudiment became reduced to its present shape may be traced in books of uniforms, and one of the stages may now be frequently seen in the livery of servants, in the form of a row of three or four buttons running down near the edge of the tail, sewn on to a scalloped patch of cloth (the pocket-flap), which is itself sewed to the coat.

In the last century, when the coats had large flapping skirts, it became the custom (as may be seen in Hogarth's pictures) to button back the two corners of the coat, and also to button forward the inner corners, so as to separate the tails for convenience in riding.[1] This custom left its traces in the uniform of our soldiers down to the introduction of the modern tunic, and such traces may still be seen in some uniforms, for example, those of a lord-lieutenant and of the French gensdarmerie. In the uniforms of which I speak, the coats have swallow-tails, and these are broadly edged with a light-colored border, tapering upward and getting broader downward; at the bottom of the tail, below where the borders join (at which joining there is usually a button), there is a small triangle of the same color as the coat with its apex at this button. This curious appearance is explained thus: the two corners, one of which is buttoned forward and the

  1. It seems to have been in actual use in 1760, although not in 1794. See Cannon's "Hist. Rec. of British Army" (London, 1837), the Second Dragoon Guards