Gentleman's WaistcoatThroughout the 18th century, textiles of various types and qualities were produced in both Europe and America. While nearly everyone owned some textiles, wealthier individuals often possessed a greater quantity and variety of objects. More commonly produced textiles available to the general population, such as bedding and clothing, were often made of cotton, wool, or flax fibers. Textiles using “exotic” fibers, such as silk, were more difficult to obtain due to their limited availability and high costs associated with their production. Ownership and display of elaborately decorated fabrics, in the form of clothing and home furnishings, was yet another way in which the elites of eighteenth century Virginia displayed their wealth and understanding and appreciation of the latest in European tastes.
The George Washington Foundation’s collections include examples of 18th-century clothing, quilts and needlework.