Uniform Study: Military Style
by Christopher Daley
the 19th Century, vests were an essential part of any
gentlemen's clothing in civilian life. Whether he was a
laborer or a politician, his vest was worn in public with few
exceptions. When enlisting in the army in the 1860's, most men
still desired to wear a vest, although most were upset to find
out the quartermaster did not issue vests to troops (with the
exception of some zouave units).
left officers and enlistedmen to search other areas to procure
a vest. Some chose to bring their civilian style vest from
home. The variations in color, style, construction and fabric
choice among civilian vests were endless. Those choosing to
wear military vests found that their choices were a bit more
limited. Usually coming in an all wool material, these vests
commonly featured a 9 button front, two or three pockets and
came in light blue, dark blue or white. I suppose the biggest
difference between what some consider a military vest vs. a
civilian vest is the stand up collar instead of a shawl
vest that survives the war is in the collection of Don Troiani
Historical Art Prints. This vest was made from a french
blue wool, exhibited three outside pockets, had a nine button
front and a stand up collar. The topstitching was done by
machine and the buttonholes and other details done by hand.
The lining was white cotton and it was backed with brown
the exception of missing buttons, the vest itself is in great
condition. There are some stains and one rip on the inside
facing, but otherwise this 140+ year old garment is a great
example of a 19th Century military vest.
would like to thank Don Troiani and Historical Art Prints for
permission to use these photographs in this article.