On This Day: 28 October 1690

On this day in 1690, Thomas Bowrey visited his tailor, William Killingworth. This type of document is among my favourites in Bowrey’s papers. They can give such insights into life at the time.

During his time in England, Bowrey spent a lot of time and money at a number of different tailors, often using more than one during the same period. In the first few years after returning from the East Indies, his visits to the tailors were particularly frequent for two reasons: the clothes he brought back from India were simply not warm enough here and he was preparing for his marriage.

On this particular day, Bowrey ordered alterations to, and mending of, his striped coat and waistcoat. He spent a proportionally high amount on having items of clothing mended compared to having new items made. It would be interesting to know if this was common practice, a measure of Bowrey’s thrift or a hangover from his time spent on board ships in the East Indies when replacement was more difficult.

Over the next eight months, he purchased long lengths of flannel to line his old waistcoats and make new ones. Flannel waistcoats were not fashion items and my guess is that these were a form of additional undergarment worn to keep out the cold. He also purchased button – six dozen at a time. Books on costume at this time show buttons used as decoration on coats as well as fastenings.

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