Last month, we wrote about the quilted waistcoats that 18th & 19th c. gentlemen would have worn for relaxing at home, or underneath a jacket. It was an easy, informal style, and a warm one, too, a welcome layer in a drafty room heated only by a fireplace.
But what of the ladies? What were they wearing as they sat at their equally drafty desks, writing and reading those endless letters that seem to have begun most every well-bred lady's day? They wore their own form of quilted waistcoats, often called jumps. Made of wool, or silk, or linen, they were heavily quilted to give them shape, and only lightly boned, if at all. They could take the place of stays (corsets) while at home, or could also be worn over them. Some had separate sleeves that could be tied on at the shoulders for extra warmth. Add a quilted petticoat (we'd call it a skirt) and wool stockings, and a lady would be well-fortified against the cold.
But as we saw with the gentlemen's quilted waistcoats, keeping warm didn't mean being unfashionable. These two reproductions, both stitched by the mantua-makers of Colonial Williamsburg, are not only elegantly quilted (all that diamond-patterned stitching is done by hand), but the example at lower left is also beautifully embroidered. The flaps on the lower edge are to accommodate the gathered fullness of the petticoats.
Here are two more examples, a bright yellow one from the Victoria & Albert Museum and another from the CW collections.
Coming on Friday: what the 18th c. lady wears out-of-doors to keep warm!