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Title: Justacorps  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: 1650–1700 in Western European fashion, Capote (garment), Open drawers, Peascod belly, Motoring hood
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Luis Francisco de la Cerda (later Duke of Medinacelli) in a red justacorps with horizontal pockets and lavish decoration.

A justacorps or justaucorps is a long, knee-length coat worn by men in the latter half of the 17th century, and throughout the 18th century. The garment is of French origin, and was introduced in England as a component of a three-piece ensemble, also consisting of breeches and a long vest or waistcoat. This ensemble served as the prototype of the modern-day three-piece suit.[1] The fabric selection and styling of the justacorps varied throughout time periods, as fashions frequently altered.

The Three-Piece Outfit

In 1666, Charles II of England declared to reset men’s fashion by introducing a new and incredibly uncomfortable garment, referred to as a vest, or a waistcoat. The vest was knee-length, worn in conjunction with breeches and an overcoat of equal length. The coat became known as the justacorps, and this outfit is thought to be the prototype of the modern day men’s three-piece suit.[2]

Seventeenth Century

Despite the outfit introduced by Charles II in 1666, the justacorps did not establish itself as a popular component of men’s dress until around 1680. It replaced the doublet, a previously popular shorter style of coat. The justacorps was worn to the knee, covering an equal length vest and breeches underneath. It opened center front, typically having many buttons and buttonholes lining the entire length of the opening. The sleeves were fitted, and featured deep cuffs. Some styles of the justacorps remained fitted throughout the bodice, though other versions feature a more accentuated, flared skirt through the addition of gores and pleats.[3] Justacorps also featured decorative pockets, often placed too low for the wearer to take functional advantage. Worn primarily by aristocratic, wealthy men,[4] justacorps were very ornate in design and made of luxurious fabrics. Colourful silk, satin, brocade, damask, and wool were commonly used textiles. Justacorps often were accented with contrasting fabrics of different colours and patterns, displayed through turned back cuffs or a decorative sash worn across the shoulders. By the early 18th century, the silhouette of the justacorps had become wider, with a fuller skirt, and laid the foundation for men’s fashion throughout the rest of the century.[5]

Eighteenth Century

In the first half of the 18th century, the justacorps altered in appearance. The garment’s opening remained at center front, however the buttons only extended to the waist area, allowing extra room for the extension of a fuller skirt. The cuffs became tighter and no longer folded back, and pockets were functional, located at a more accessible, hip-level region. The opening of the justacorps was rounded towards the mid chest, and flared away from the body.[6] In the second half of the 18th century, justacorps decreased in their skirt fullness becoming narrower. A straight edge, similar to 17th century style openings, replaced the rounded opening of the coat and sleeves reverted to a deep, turned back cuff. Textiles for the justacorps varied depending on the situation they were used within. Durable fabrics, like wool, were used in ordinary, everyday situations. Justacorps worn in this situation typically had less ornamentation compared to ones worn in elegant, formal situations. These coats were made of ornate fabrics like silk and brocade, and decorated with elaborate embroidery and lace.[7] The justacorps should be distinguished as different from the frock coat, which were less ornate, differed in cut and silhouette, and not worn popularly until the late 18th century.

See also


  1. ^ Tortora, Phyllis (2010). Survey of Historic Costume. New York: Fairchild Book. 
  2. ^ Tortora, Phyllis (2010). Survey of Historic Costume. New York: Fairchild Book. 
  3. ^ Condra, Jill (2008). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Throughout World History: 1501-1800. Greenwood Publishing Group. 
  4. ^ Riberiro, Aileen (2005). Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England. Yale. 
  5. ^ Condra, Jill (2008). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Throughout World History: 1501-1800. Greenwood Publishing Group. 
  6. ^ Tortora, Phyllis (2010). Survey of Historic Costume. New York: Fairchild Book. 
  7. ^ Tortora, Phyllis (2010). Survey of Historic Costume. New York: Fairchild Book. 

External links


  • Condra, Jillian: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Throughout World History: 1501 - 1800, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008, ISBN 0-313-33664-5
  • Payne, Blanche: History of Costume from the Ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century, Harper & Row, 1965. No ISBN for this edition; ASIN B0006BMNFS
  • Picken, Mary Brooks: The Fashion Dictionary, Funk and Wagnalls, 1957. (1973 edition ISBN 0-308-10052-2)
  • Ribeiro, Aileen: Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England, Yale, 2005, ISBN 0-300-10999-7
  • Tortora, Phyllis G & Eubank, Keith: Survey of Historic Costume: 5th Edition, Fairchild Books, 2010, ISBN 1-56367-806-6
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