A closer look at the Frock Coat

Historical seamstress Michelle Barker displays the tailoring on a men's frock coat from the 1790s

Seamstress Michelle Barker creates replica Georgian costumes from original patterns. On her latest visit to Coleridge Cottage, she showed us her recent acquisition; a 1790s male 'frock coat'. Intrigued, we had to find out more.

How old is the frock coat and what is it made of?

It was made in the 1790s from striped woven silk,

What is a 'frock coat'?

Earlier in the 1700s, a 'coat' would have been a fashionable coat worn by men with a stand-up collar. A frock coat initially developed as a working-mans coat which was more flexible and could be used for hunting and sport. Gradually, the frock coat became a less formal fashion statement among young men, and unlike its predecessor, was worn very tight with a turned-down collar.

Who would have worn it?

This frock coat would have been worn by a young man. We can tell by its length he would have been tall and slim, although it was probably designed to be tight-fitting. From looking at the coat we can guess he might have been what the Georgians knew as a 'dandy'; a fashion-conscious young man. Caricatures of dandies show them wearing lots of stripes and tight-fitting frock coats like these.

What are your plans for it?

I will be studying its construction and tailoring, and hope to make a pattern from it so I can make replica frock coats. Studying clothes from this period is fascinating as this decade was really the birth of modern tailoring, and you start to see tailoring methods we would recognise today.

Michelle Barker