V238: What Is This Style of 18th Century Jacket?

A beautiful image popped up on my Pinterest feed this morning:

1730-60, French manufacture, held in the Digitalt Museum

I find this extant ensemble really interesting because, well, it matches.  Matching gowns and petticoats we are all familiar with, but matching jackets and petticoats?  And how about those long, 2-piece, shaped sleeves?

This jacket is super-duper similar to these…

Meg Andrews, 1770s
Met, 1770s, English manufacture
National Trust, 1760-70, also found in Janet Arnold’s “Patterns of Fashion 1” pg 26

This seems to have been a fairly common style, popular from the earlier part of the 18th century through the 1770s.  They are all made the same, with no waist seam, meeting center front, and with godets in the skirting.  The sleeve styles vary, but essentially the structure is the same.

Does this type of jacket have a specific name?  Do you think this style of jacket was often worn with a matching petticoat?  If that’s the case, it begs the question…were those matching patterned petticoats worn with other jackets or gowns?


  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    August 26, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    Oh Lauren, I went to a lecture this morning by Ian Kelly about Beau Brummell's London, and it was SO intriguing! And I kick myself for not taking paper and a pencil as he put up a slide of portraits of Beau B's parents, and the gown his mother is wearing is like nothing else I have seen. It's a portrait that is held in a private collection too.
    It got me thinking that if costumiers stick only to extant garments and paintings as inspiration for accuracy, what about all those portraits and garments that noone ever gets to see? How many more variations are we missing out on that were worn? I am intrigued! I am buying his book, "Beau Brummell, Ultimate Dandy", and I hope the portraits are in it. It's published in US as "Beau Brummell, Ultimate Man of Style"
    Anyway, I really cannot imagine that noone wore matchy matchy jackets and skirts, it just makes sense that this would happen. But perhaps it not being a formal look, women wouldn't wear such a garment for a portrait, and skirts and jackets would be separated more easily over the centuries – a petticoat would be a tempting source of fabric for later remakes! 🙂

    • Lauren Stowell

      August 26, 2012 at 8:51 AM

      MrsC, I'm going to add that book to my wishlist! I completely agree – it doesn't make sense on a practical level that the matching floral or striped petticoats that go with a gown or a jacket (in this case) would never be worn mis-matched with anything else, like a solid colored jacket or gown. I have only ever seen one example of a floral painted silk petticoat paired with a solid pink gown, in the Kyoto Costume Institute "Fashion" book, and I've been told that it wasn't done, but knowing that fabric was a valuable commodity and a way to advertise your wealth and status, it just seems like common sense that those patterned petticoats would be worn with more than just the matching gown. I agree, perhaps not for a formal look, which may very well be why we don't see examples of this being done in portraiture.

    • Cassidy

      August 26, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      what about all those portraits and garments that noone ever gets to see?

      This really gets to me. It's pushing me into making a book of patterns from garments in small, local museums that don't get shown often and especially don't get seen by wider audiences … but at the same time I think of the many, many other museums across the state, let alone the country, and it's incredible. There are just so many that could show so much variety, and they're almost completely unknown.

  • Katy Rose

    August 27, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    This is a tough one…When you look at the Larsdatter site under Casaquin and Caraco, there are very similar styles. The first link under Caraco is identical in style, http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/80003001. As well as this quote taken from Sue Felshin “Woman’s jacket made of shaped panels, closely fitted in the upper body and flaring in the skirts, and often having no seaming at the waist.” (It also appears to be used as a generic term for a jacket, in many cases.) In what I've seen, the ones described as Caraco's had matching skirts. and usually fell to knee or mid thigh in length.

    I really am having a hard time wrapping my head around a specific jacket being called a Caraco…I think it's a term to describe jackets in general. YET…most of the time I see and jacket and petticoat that match, the resulting description is of a Caraco. SO I've come to believe that the Caraco is basically a shorter, Knee or mid-thigh version of a gown, because it has a matching petticoat and because the front either has a stomacher or open front.

    The Casaquin I think is identified by its quarter back cut and flared skirts. The skirt and bodice are cut as one and the fullness is achieved by either pleats of gores/godets. http://www.kikirpa.be/www2/cgi-bin/wwwopac.exe?DATABASE=object&LANGUAGE=0&OPAC_URL=&%250=20049481 Also the sleeves seam to be tighter and longer, indicating that it was in the later part of the century…80's and beyond.

    • Lauren Stowell

      August 27, 2012 at 12:26 AM

      Katy, I agree – I've seen "Caraco" refer to a number of different jackets, and also refer to ALL jackets. It's so confusing! I was nosing around on Dames A La Mode hoping to find a fashion plate showing a jacket like these, with a name for it, but no such luck.

      For the green jacket and petticoat, do you think the jacket was remodeled from an earlier garment? The long sleeves are throwing me. What I wouldn't give to have a good, up-close-and-personal eyeballing of this one. 🙂

    • Katy Rose

      August 27, 2012 at 2:20 AM

      Its hard to tell, But my "gut" feeling is that it is remodeled. It looks out of place with the petticoat and the flower pattern is large, which means the fabric would be earlier. Again not fitting with the date of when the long fitted sleeves came in. The other thing that is bothering me about the jacket is that it seems to be cut on the cross grain. On the petti the slubs/lines(for lack of a better term) are running horizontally around the body, on the jacket they seem to be running vertically. Which in my mind if you are trying to create an updated style with an old one, you would have to be creative and lay your pattern across the grain instead of with it in order to get the yardage.

    • Lauren Stowell

      August 27, 2012 at 2:24 AM

      Good eye! I didn't see the grain/slub lines, but that makes perfect sense. I agree – sleeves are later, but textile is earlier. Then again it could just be a freak garment? I wish there were a super-zoom function to see if there are any picking marks.

  • Kendra

    August 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    From my research, "casaquin" is an all-purpose term meaning "jacket" in the first half of the 18th c.; "caraco" is the same in the second half of the century. As to what this is specifically – no idea!

  • Hallie Larkin

    August 29, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Terminology is an issue for all of us, particularly since the costume history terms used today are French and the English in their documents and in the existing searchable databases, did not use those terms at all. The word caraco is not to be found in the Historic Newspapers. Jacket is the term used by the English, neither did they use "robe ala Anglaise or "Francaise". We need identifiers to discuss rationally the different styles, and the costume world has settled on the French terms. But we can't transfer those terms when researching English clothing, they are just not there. Coming up with our own versions of what we think they thought they meant, is a slippery slope to even more confusion. But we have to have words that we all understand, a thorny issue, but as more research is done, more information will be available. I am sure of it.


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