18th Century Men’s Jackets

This collection of images includes a variety of styles of men’s short jackets, worn by laborers and other working men throughout the second half of the 18th century. These are not all the same, exact style of jacket, and there are probably several ways that they were made; shortening the tails of a coat, adding sleeves to a waistcoat, etc.

The most common colors for these sorts of jackets are brown (including buff, tan, or natural), indigo blue, and madder red. They don’t always have pockets, and they don’t always have linings. They are often worn open, over a shirt and a colorful neckcloth, but without a waistcoat.

The only extant example I know of is a late 18th century French broadcloth jacket in the collection of Henry Cooke.

There are some occupations that seem to be associated with specific styles of jackets. Butchers are often depicted in a sleeved waistcoat, sometimes striped, generally buttoned up, as in Saint Monday in the Afternoon, English Funn or Docking the Macaroni, and The Female Bruisers. Sailors’s jackets are more likely to be blue, are often double-breasted, generally worn open over a waistcoat, and have metal buttons, like The Sailor’s Return, The Sailor’s Present, The Sailor Riding to Portsmouth, and Poor Tom Bowling.