do you have any idea what a robespierre waistcoat is? i'm always confused when i read the passage where r wears one and since youre a fashion blog i figured you might know
ok first things first take everything I say with a grain of salt – I’m not a fashion historian by any means, and nearly all of what I say is just based on observation. if anyone who knows more about this than I do wants to chime in, please do!
that being said, while it’s difficult to pin down the exact specifications of a robespierre waistcoat, we can get a pretty good idea.
I think to understand what they were, we should look at what they weren’t first. if we take a look at waistcoats from directly before the revolution, we notice some very prominent patterns:
(that last one a rare less aristocratic example, to round this post out a little)
they all have relatively small or no collars, and most importantly, never any lapels.
the waistcoats robespierre brought into fashion during the revolution were the polar opposite: above all, really really huge lapels (big enough to flap over the lapels of the coat, no less!), as well as more frequently having higher collars (this being a trend, but not the definitive rule.)
^ brought to you by the style icon himself.
this is the most obvious french example I’ve found from the revolution era:
you can see a pretty clear difference between these and the older ones. them both being yellow is just a coincidence, they could come in any color or pattern.
some other examples from outside the exact country and era:
^ british, revolution era
^ the same
^ american, mid 19th century
and my personal favorites, the first owned by an american in the first quarter of the 19th century, presumably sympathetic to the old french republic:
and finnish, from 1800-1829:
I have no idea why the MET didn’t fold down the lapels on the first one, but if you look closely you can see impressions of where they were, and the shape of the unfolded lapels in general should give you an idea. these ones are special first of all because they’re cut to the natural waist, as waistcoats were throughout the 1830s as well; secondly because they’re the revolutionary scarlet color that grantaire wore, and that so terrified good, respectable folk – the horror of one passerby at bahorel’s red waistcoat comes to mind.
those were the most prominent physical examples I could find, but there’s also this 1830s fashion plate bearing some suitably enormous lapels:
these from ellie valsin’s fantastic post on waistcoats. note that after the revolution ended, and lapels became standard on waistcoats, to get your republican point across your lapels would probably have to be even bigger, hence
grands airs grantaire making a show of pressing down his lapels.
anyhow, that’s the sum total of all I have to say. again: I have not genuinely studied this, this is just what I’ve seen. if anyone has any corrections or additions, please add them!