Tuesday, 15 January 2013

French Clothing in the New World Part Five.


1. "Garment worn under the justaucorps or the suit. It has sleeves, basques and pockets, and is buttoned, but it reaches only to the knees. (Diderot., "Vests").
2. Garment with four flaps (pans), which reaches to the knees.
(Larousse XX siècle, "Vests").
Polonaise (Lb., see polonaise, E.1)
1. Short sleeveless garment worn under a vest, jaquette ... etc. A sort of camisole of wool or cotton, which was worn next to the skin or over a shirt. Thegilet is a vest without basques, and originally without pockets. (Larousse, XX siècle, "gilet").
2. see camisole, D.2
o    This information has been collected from Diderot's Encyclépédie, the Dictionnaire Larousse de XX siécle. The Cut Of Men's Clothes: 1600-1900 by Norah Waugh (London 1964, "Other Types of Garments", p. 89, "French Terms used with the English Equivalent", p. 90), XV111E Siècle: Institutions, Usages et Costumes by Paul Lacroix (Paris, 1885, po 493), and the Louisbourg Archives.
o    We have studied here only the garments which are mentioned in the Louisbourg documents.
o    The origin of each detail is given in parentheses.
o    In order to avoid repetitions each time a term appears, we have indicated cross references the first time a term appears.
o    (a) Justaucorps
o    The ,justaucorps, the 'jacket' of the 18th century suit, hung to the knees. It could be closed along a row of buttons at the front. It had no collar. Each side had large box pleats called "basques" and the back was open from the waist. The sleeves had cuffs, called "buttes de la manche". The pockets had flaps with button-holes matching the buttons sewn on the coat.
o    After making his measurements and tracing the contours onto the material, the tailor cut out the pieces: two front pieces, two for the back, two pieces for each sleeve, two sleeve cuffs and two pocket flaps were the main parts of the garment.
o    The tailor assembled the two pieces of the back by a seam from neck to waist, in the center of the back. The tails were left divided. Then the front pieces were prepared. Each side was more rigid near the center, since the pieces were reinforced by a strip of buckram (bougran) on the inside of each piece. Button-holes were cut down the left side of the front. Openings for the pockets were already cut and the pockets were attached from the inside, though the flaps were sewn to the outside of the fabric.
o    Before joining front to back, the tailor sewed in a precisely fitted lining. The side seams ran from the armpit towards the waist, where they stopped. Then the garment was sewed above the shoulders. The collar was finished with a narrow strip of fabric attached to the outside and folded over the hem.
o    Below the waist, the front and back had a surplus of material on each side. This was pleated. The pleats, held up by points of stitching, formed the pleats known as "basques".
o    The sleeves remained to be assembled and attached. Two seams were made to assemble the pieces which formed the upper and under sides of the sleeves. Cuffs were done in the same way and attached to the sleeves. Each cuff was trimmed with five buttons and button-holes. The lining, separately assembled, was sewn to the sleeve. That done, the sleeve was sewn to the body.
o    (b) Vest
o    The vest, which used the same basic model as the justaucorps, was similar in assembly, though it was simpler. It was not as long and had neither pleats at the sides nor cuffs on the sleeves. The sleeves were slit a few inches up the wrist; a button-hole was made on one side of the cut and a button placed on the other.
o    (c) Breeches
o    Breeches reached to just below the knee where they ended with a garter. They closed at the front by either a brayette, a simple buttoned vertical opening in the center, or by a pont or bavaroise, a larger opening which buttoned at each side of the front.
o    Four pieces were cut to make breeches. Two formed the front and two the back. The tailor used the same material to line the tops of the pockets and the slits at the bottom, which were at the sides and rose to the knee. He sewed five buttons and button-holes around these openings. The front piece and the back piece were then joined down the sides to the opening, and along the insides of the thighs. The crotch-piece seam (la couture de l'entre-jambe) between the two back pieces stopped three pouces from the waist. The one at the front stopped at the brayette.
o    A waistband with several pleats took up the surplus material. It could be adjusted at the center of the back with a buckle and closed at the front with two buttons and button-holes.
o    The lining, made of dressed sheepskin ("peau de mouton chamoisée"), fustian, or toile, was made separately and added to the breeches after pockets had been sewn inside. Finally, the garters were sewn into the bottom of each leg. They were narrow bands of the same material, held together by a buckle.
o    The three pieces which made up the suit were all common in men's wardrobes at Louisbourg. It was less common to find them as an ensemble, made of the same material. When that was the case (See Table No. 4) the suit often would be made of plain materials woven without twill ("drags: tissu simple, sans croisure") of different qualities, or other allied materials such as camlet (camelot). There were also velvet-like fabrics such as plush. Colours were usually sombre: blue, black or different shades of gray or brown.
o    Merchants or merchant-brokers, [61a] ship's carpenters., [62] engineer., [63] bailiff of the Superior Council: [64] these were the occupations of those who wore suits. Some exceptions can be found, such as the master baker [65] and the lighthouse-keeper [66] who had suits, but theirs were of inferior quality, made of "rough brown cloth" or "common material".
o    A few details show the refinement attainable by the wealthy. Such is the case for a suit for which material was ordered in France in 1729[67] It was made of "drap d'Elbeuf or something more beautiful, iron gray in colour, with fine red lining, and with all the trimming matched".
1713 to 1745
8 cloth (drap):          3 unspecified type
                  1 d'Elbeuf
                  1 d'Abbeville
                  1 "gros drap"
                  2 "canelle"
3 material (étoffe):  1 unspecified type
                                  2 common stuff
                                  3 plush
                                  1 camlet on silk
                                 1 short nap maroccan (ras de maroc)

3 brown
2 iron gray
1 black
1748 to 1758
9 cloth:  6 unspecified type
 2 d'Elbeuf
 1 new and fine
3 camlet:  1 unspecified
 2 on silk
1 friezed Cadiz cloth
1 short-napped
2 gray-white
2 gray
1 brown
1 coffee-coloured
3 blue
3 black
o    1713-1745: 16 fabrics and 6 colours specified
o    1748-1758: 14 fabrics and 12 colours specified
o    1713-1758:30 fabrics and 18 coleurs specified
o    Ornamentation also contributed to the quality of a suit. Buttons could be flat, cloth-covered or simply of an ordinary metal-like copper or tin. But sometimes gold or silver buttons were chosen, or the suit was decorated with braids, fringes or variously embroidered ribbons. Louisbourg inventory of 1750 listed a "blue camlet suit with buttons of gold thread and with a white taffeta lining, a blue vest with a gold braid and a white silk lining" and a pair of blue breeches. [68] It belonged to a boat captain and was worth 120 livres, though at the time it was "somewhat used'". The high price itself suggests why this sort of suit was a rare thing in Louisbourg.
o    Other suits were so splendid as to make them a true luxury item. "The most beautiful ... are the embroidered suits, of silk, with golden or silver flowers, or of golden cloth, etc." [69] These were almost non-existant at Louisbourg, except in exceptional cases. The governor, whose situation was clearly unique, owned one of these suits, valued at 333 livres in 1744. [70] The three pieces were not of the same material, but were designed to be matched: the coat was "cinnamon, braided with gold, lined with crimson silk" and the vest was "Naples cloth (gros de Naple) the colour of fire, also gold braided and lined with white silk ...and breeches of the same material".
o    Up to this point, we have considered suits as designed by the tailor in their most classical form. Most often these were three pieces of the same material. We might call "street clothes" (habits de ville) those that were of sombre colour, while others, much more rare and luxurious, were reserved for more sophisticated occasions.
o    It is wrong, however, to assume that all those wearing suits looked the same. Although style was more conformist at that time than in the 20th century, one was allowed to make variations within certain limits. Except for a few details, the model remained the same, but one could combine different materials, colours or garments. Several examples will show this variety. Rather than giving the complete list, which would mean repetition and a confused picture, or on the other hand giving only a general outline, we have chosen to use a selection of valuable examples. Two criteria have guided the choices: we have used citations which both serve as representatives of the whole and offer precise details. They are listed by the different possible combinations and may be a useful guide for costume reproduction.
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