Friday, November 17, 2017

Attachable Sleeves - 1640 - 1722

In 1667, New York City, Madam Cornelia de Vos was seen wearing...

                                             “…, a pair of red and yellow sleeves,…”

Ms. de Vos's "red and yellow sleeves" turn up both in an "as seen" court record but also in her probate inventory. Both "waistcoats" and "mantels" with attachable sleeves were commonly used by farmers, traders, crafts people and even merchants of different status levels for the entirety of the 17th Century and into the 18th Century. Of the probate inventories in my database; there are 36 pairs of sleeves, with one particular 1640 inventory demonstrating the practical nature of New Netherland wardrobes with a number of doubles, waistcoats and mantels with attachable sleeves; whereas the 1641 and 1646 inventories sampled below also include furred jackets, robes and other garments reflective of farmers a bit more well off. Nevertheless, farmers, trades and crafts people regardless of wealth were wearing waistcoats with attachable sleeves.

1640, Female, Fort Amsterdam, (Manhattan) Tobacco Farmers (5 or more pairs of sleeves)

2 pairs of sleeves; 1 pair of woolen yarn, 1 pair of damask,
4 little mantles, one of them with fur,
2 pairs of white sleeves,
(?) pairs of yellow sleeves

Sleeves come in a variety of colors with some being patterned. They show up in mostly women's but also in men's and children's list of clothes. Some fashion historians tend to define a "waistcoat" as always having attached sleeves, and this tends to be true for some nations or regions. But primary sources show that the opposite can be true for other nations and regions. This is a great example of why research in one town, city or region can not be wholly (100% or always) applied to another town, city or region. They can over lap and we will see this in a later post when we look at New England and New Netherland as there are items that clearly overlap, some are adopted across ethnic lines and others only have "comparables". Belo
w cropping of painting by Gabriel Metsu - Das Bohnenfest. Link.

1641, Female, Pavonia, (New Jersey) She is a sheep farmer and married to a Dutch WIC employee, (2 pairs)

1 undershirt of woolen yarn,
1 pair of damask sleeves, half worn,
1 little black vest with two sleeves

1646, Female, Albany, Crops and Dairy Farmer, (2 pair)

1 little black silk mantle with a pair of sleeves,
1 pair of old sleeves

During the first half of the century, the attached sleeves are associated with Jackets and Mantels, but later it is not obvious. It may be because waistcoats and bodices also had sleeves. Cropping of painting by Gerard ter Borch (Dutch, 1617–1681), about 1650/51. Link. 

The wearing of jackets with attachable sleeves continues into the 1690s and through to the 1720s. They can be very colorful and came in a variety of fabrics:

1702, Male, Merchant, NYC - To one old “Coats”, waistcoats without “sleaves” 000:7:6

1722, Female, Shop Keeper, NYC - 7 prs woman's sleeves 5.3

Of the 36 pairs of sleeves in New Netherland and later New York; 6 inventories had only one pair, 3 inventories had two pairs and two inventories had 3 pairs; the remainder had 5 or more pairs of sleeves. There was no correlation between having 1, 2 or 3 pairs based on decade or time frame. The inventories range from Manhattan to Kingston (Wiltwijk) to Albany, and span 1640 to 1722. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your posts! :-) It's interesting that the sleeves were once pretty common across the social scale, and so late too; today they seem so exotic and unusual.

    John Styles' "Threads of Feeling" (textile tokens from the London foundling hospital) has a couple of baby sleeves, left in 1745 and 1746 respectively, so attached sleeves might have stayed in use longer in baby wear.