TAILORING MATERIALS, COSTS &C

Although my biography of Louis is (hopefully) almost complete, it received a setback recently, occasioned by the discovery of his detailed accounts with the Prince.  This means that a great deal more information about his tailoring activities, which had been previously rather sparsely covered (like a tramp’s backside), now has to be added.  It also means I am on a very steep learning curve, trying to come up to speed on the materials and techniques of high-class gentlemen’s tailoring in the Georgian period.  Unlike women’s clothing of this time, there is not much material (pun intended) about men’s.
As far as costs are concerned, the outfits ordered in the previous blog come to an astronomical total, which of course would never have been mentioned at Carlton House, and would in any case not have received a single thought by the Prince, who characteristically cared not a whit what things cost or how they would be paid for. 
Typical materials used were:-
Beaver (not the actual beaver underfur, which was felted and used for hats and heavy overcoats, but wool, felted and brushed to have a beaver finish) at thirty shillings a yard.  Bear in mind that a frock coat for the Prince required 5 yards of cloth.
Plain silk for linings at about 7/- a yard and fancy silk at 25/-.  Embroidery was extra of course.
Velvet at 30/- , ‘spaniolet’ (haven’t discovered yet what this was) at 14/- and cassimere – usually spelt kerseymere, (a woollen suiting cloth of plain or twill weave, corruption of Cashmere) at 10/-.

Buttons, unless of the sort covered with the same material as the coat, were expensive – e.g., plated buttons at 8/- a dozen, ‘pearl & stone’ buttons at 2/6 each, rising to ‘rich fancy buttons’ at 5/- each.

Stocking breeches (which were made of stockinet, which was knitted on a stocking frame, rather than woven, and which were tailored to take full advantage of the elasticity of the cloth to give a clingy fit) were charged at £2/14/- for silk while ordinary cassimere breeches were half the price.  Drawers were 7/6 a pair.

An example charge for a fancy dress coat and waistcoat, consisting of 9 yards rich spot velvet at 14/- a yard, embroidered satin foreparts in gold and colours, satin linings, 28 covered buttons to the coat and 18 ‘rich’ buttons to the vest – was £35/2/7, of which 10/- was for ‘sewing silk & twist’ and only £1/11/6 was for all the rest of the labour in making it up.  Assuming that Louis enjoyed, say, a 50% mark-up on the labour as well as the materials, that would mean that the cutters, tailors, finishers and ‘table-monkeys’ received very poor wages, which I suppose doesn’t come as a surprise to us.

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2 Responses to TAILORING MATERIALS, COSTS &C

  1. Charles Bazalgette says:

    Many thanks for that research. Unfortunately, I don’t update blogs when I discover something (not that most people, unlike you, take the trouble to rummage back through them). I had worked out also that is was espagnolette but it too me a while.

  2. Charles Bazalgette says:

    Well, good luck with your blog and thanks for playing with mine. All your help is much appreciated

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