Layton Jacket

The Margaret Layton jacket, early 17th century, Britain. The Margaret Layton jacket, early 17th century, Britain. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, acc. no. T.228-1994.

The Layton jacket is an example of an early seventeenth century English woman’s jacket (sometimes described as a waistcoat, using the seventeenth century meaning of the word, namely a coat that came to the waist). It is an example of the type of garment worn on formal occasions by English women at the end of the sixteenth and in the early seventeenth centuries.

The garment is unusual because it is known who originally wore it, namely Margaret Layton, and there is a portrait of her wearing this particular jacket. Both the jacket and the portrait are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (painting; E.214-1994; jacket T.228-1994). The jacket was made between 1610-1615 and in the 1620's an edging of spangled silver-gilt bobbin lace was added. It is made from linen with a pink silk taffeta lining.

The outside of the jacket is embroidered with an overall pattern of scrolling vines worked in a plaited braid stitch using a silver-gilt thread. From the vines spring a variety of flowers, fruits and insects. Many of these images derive from versions published in contemporary emblem, herbals and pattern books. These are embroidered using coloured silks and silver-gilt threads. The embroidery stitches used for the work include buttonhole stitch, chain stitch, plaited braid stitch, seed stitchstem stitch, as well as couching. In addition, parts of the design are highlighted with spangles. The jacket was originally worn with an Italian needlelace collar and cuffs with sleeve ruffs, a neck ruff, a black velvet gown, a red silk petticoat and a whitework apron.


  • CUNNINGTON, C. Willet and Phyllis CUNNINGTON. Handbook of English Costume in the 17th Century, London: Faber and Faber.
  • HART, Avril and Susan NORTH (1998). Historical Fashion in Detail. The 17th and 18th Centuries, London: V&A Museum.
  • LEVEY, Santina (1983). Lace. A History, London: V&A Museum and George Maney.
  • THORNTON, Claire (2011). 'Margaret Layton's Waistcoat', in: Susan North and Jenny Tiramani (eds.), Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns, vol. 1, London: V&A Publishing, pp. 22-33.



Last modified on Wednesday, 18 January 2017 09:07