The reuse of 18th Century silks, apparent in surviving dresses of the 1840s, was not a practice restricted to women’s garments, as can be seen from this handsome example of a man’s waistcoat. Pieces of figured silk, probably woven in the late 1720s or early 1730s at Spitalfields, the centre of the English silk industry, have been expertly joined to form the front of the waistcoat. The vibrant design of opulent flower heads, appearing to droop under their own weight, and pale, delicately lacy foliage has been realised in lustrous silks in a variety of weaves. Their glowing colours are set off by the matte black ground, and by the later velvet collar. Surviving examples of 18th Century figured silks with black grounds are uncommon, the chemicals used in the dying and mordanting process (which could be lengthy to achieve a deep black) tending to weaken the fibres, causing them to deteriorate with time.