V114: Incredible 18th Century Jackets from the Imatex Online Collection

I have to give mad thanks to Emily over at My Vintage Visions, who showed me the secret of searching the Imatex costume collection, a wonderful resource with gigantic photos in which you can see every stitch and detail.  It is serious costume porn, especially in the area of 18th century jackets.

‘Course, I went on a pinning frenzy, and you can see all my personal faves on my 18th century costuming pin board, Colonial Williamsburg inspiration board, and Pierrot Jackets board.  When you click through the images to the Imatex website, if the record does not come up, click the tiny link at the bottom for “English,” and then click “Access as External User.”  Next, click the word “Imatex” on the left hand side, then “Search,” and have at it.

Here are a few of my favorites:

My first “must have this NOW” jacket – red velvet bound in blue!  Long sleeve make me think 1780s-90s, but when you click through and see the front, it closes with a stomacher.  Confusing!
I adore the tabbed bodices.  This one is cut all in one.  Isn’t the textile just delicious, too?
This one has hand-painted silk trim, and what appears to be some awesome metallic tinsel stuff.  I dated this to the 1790s – yes/no?
I found this jacket fascinating because it is *very* similar to the aqua 1790 KCI Jacket and Gilet we all lust after – you know, the one that you can’t see the back of?  Well here is an option!
Be sure to check out the other views of this polonaise jacket.  I dated it for the 1770s based on the cuffs, trims, and style.  It has a cutaway front, and skirtings in back formed like a man’s jacket.  We don’t have many extant examples of polonaise jackets, so this is extra special.
This jacket is a similar style to one held in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, an profiled in Costume Closeup.  It laces closed over a stomacher, in front, and has a tabbed skirt.  What’s awesome about this one is all that piecing – click through and see the huge image.  The textile is also incredible, and perfectly matched.  It feels “fresh” and bright, to me.
This is a pierrot jacket – I’d say the 1780s – with some really interesting, fluffy, looped trim.  And check out how long the front is!  Click to the pin board and see the back of it – it’s got quite the tail.
There are quite a few skirted jackets like this one, in the collection.  She’s got winged cuffs with lace – I’d say 1740s, what do you think?  The textile is gorgeous, and what I find really cool about this jacket is it’s made for a larger woman.

The one thing I wasn’t so thrilled about, with Imatex, is that I couldn’t find dates for any of these garments.  Maybe I’m just blind?  I could make educated guesses based on details like winged cuffs, stomacher fronts, size of textile repeat, etc., but don’t take any of my dates as gospel, especially when a great many of these jackets appear to be Spanish/surrounding areas, and don’t follow the French/English/American aesthetics.

All that aside, though, aren’t they just *gorgeous* ?  Thank you again to Emily!


  • Rae Arnold

    April 23, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    Oh, wow, thanks for sharing!

    Their interface really is pretty clunky, but it looks like if you open the record and click on the Thesaurus tab (at least in the English translation), there should be a "Chronology". Most of the records I’ve looked at so far show a century and a date range there.

    • Terese

      April 24, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      Wow, clunky indeed. I think I should say that to access these images on the Imatex site, one needs to go to the pinterest site first and then click thru the images. Going straight to the Imatex site using the link above is frustrating, to say the least. There is just so much cool stuff out there and so little time!! Thanks for the links!

    • Lauren R

      April 24, 2012 at 9:07 PM

      Terese, I felt the same way, and went on that pinning frenzy because i was afraid I would somehow lose my way again and not be able to access the records, haha!

  • Anonymous

    April 24, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    The reason why some of the jacket styles are confusing is because the are Spanish-styled. Spain was one of those countries, as a friend in the SCA says, "where fashion goes to die." They had the tendency to hang on to some trends waaaaaay after everyone else had discarded them (wide hoops in the 1770s anyone?) and come up with some odd fashions of their own (ie–look of the hairstyles of the royal women during the 17th century).

    • Lauren R

      April 24, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      You are absolutely right. That throws a monkey in the accurate dating wrenchworks, at least for me, because with French and English garments we are used to seeing the large brocade patterns earlier in the century, but the Spanish carry them all the way through. I am certainly a novice (even less than) when it comes to Spanish and Southern European fashions of the 18th c., but I look forward to researching more 🙂

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