The John Bright Collection owns a number of fine examples of men’s waistcoats dating from the 1830s to the 1850s. During this period waistcoats provided decorative elements to masculine attire that had become increasingly subdued, employing a great variety of colours, fabrics and decoration.
This double-breasted example is woven with an allover design of roses. It is lined in cotton and backed with silk twill. The back is adjusted with a tape threaded through three pairs of metal eyelets on tabs. These metal eyelets, patented in the mid 1820s, were a great improvement on the stitched eyelets that preceded them, being able to take greater strain. In turn, they were replaced by metal buckles by the end of the 1840s. Nevertheless, the method of adjustment was very much up to the preference of the wearer. John Westwood, for example, opted for two pairs of tapes that simply tied together, common in the 18th Century, on his wedding waistcoat of 1839 (See Related Item).