Sewing: enlightenment vest

A long vest in Ralph Lauren fabric

In the 1600s-1750s, it was common for men to wear either multi-hued knee-length vests in silk or jacquard brocades, or banyans and turbans. The banyan, a loose-sleeved robe popular in England and France, was modeled on Asian costume but fitted for an intellectual and western-facing audience. The American colonies, lacking a homegrown luxury fabric market until late in the 1700s, tended to avoid the banyan in favor of the long vest, and in relatively earth-toned solid hues rather than the elaborate embroidery of the centers of empire.

So I find myself producing the 18th century vest, these days, not in American homespun but in quilting prints and this Ralph Lauren fabric that’s still 100% cotton. I like the yellow and orange paisley over a navy blue background. It’s got a manliness to it but also an opulence.

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