Decorative trimmings and imaginative construction enhance many early nineteenth-century women's sleeves. Here, applied panels of pleated silk give the impression that the cuff is turned back to reveal a layer of fabric underneath. It is actually the patterned silk that has been slit vertically at the wrist and folded to provide a backing fabric for the triangular wings. The diagonal and vertical pleats create an interesting visual effect and a perfectly placed tassel anchors the design. Pleated silk decorates the front of the pelisse to match the sleeves.

The pointed shape of the cuff is reminiscent of cuffs on British light cavalry uniforms dating back to the late eighteenth century. It became very fashionable to borrow regimental trimmings, and an outdoor garment provided an ideal vehicle for display. The bodice also follows military models as it resembles the plastron fronts on regimental dress, derived from lancers' jackets. The word plastron comes from the Italian for breastplate, and in military terms was originally a panel of fabric placed across the chest and attached by two rows of vertical buttons. The high stand collar is equally military in style, although, like the rest of the garment, light, delicate materials give it a feminine appeal.


  • Title: Pelisse
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1815/1824
  • Location: Great Britain
  • Provenance: Given by Marion Dawson
  • Medium: Silk

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