Man's Suit

A man's 18th century suit consists of breeches, waistcoat and coat (=justaucorps). Unlike the modern coat, the 18th coat is not an optional garment for outdoor use only, but an integral part of the suit without which a gentleman wasn't properly dressed. With a shirt, stock and overknee stockings, the man was fit for the public. The basic technique for making a suit was the same for all of the 18th century, with one exception: Until about 1750, the breeches usually buttoned in the centre front, whereas later, fall-front breeches (culotte à la bavaroise = Bavarian-style breeches) became fashionable, probably because it looked better with the shorter waistcoats of the time. For the later (1770s/80s) styles, there is a number of commercial patterns available from suppliers that cater to American War of Independence reenactors. For earlier styles, there isn't much to be found yet, so I was happy to find a guinea pig for a 1750s suit. The results can be seen below.

Important warning: Before you start a project like this one, you should have advanced tailoring know-how. I will not explain about seam allowance, flat-felling, inserting a pocket and the like. It may help if you've made a modern suit before, but it can also be a drawback whenever you have to forget about modern techniques, which is often the case. In most cases, you will have to fit the size of the pattern, so you should also have some experience there. Please read all of the instructions before even buying the fabric since something mentioned in a later chapter may impact earlier stages.

And as always: Please let me know if anything isn't clear enough. It is quite conceivable that I find my instructions perfectly logical and understandable while others don't. Especially since I've written each chapter while I was one or two steps further, so I may have forgotten to mention something.


  1. Preparations and Material
  2. Pattern and cutting
  3. The breeches
  4. The coat
  5. The waistcoat
  6. Wear and care


Wednesday, 15-May-2013 23:53:14 MEST