The controversial second marriage of James, Duke of York (1633-1701), younger brother of Charles II, took place in 1673.
Wedding suit of James, Duke of York by Unknown Artist, 1673
© V&A Picture Library
- Wool with silver & silver gilt threat & Venetian lace
- Chest: 91.4, length of coat: 91.4 cm, length of breeches: 68.6 cm
- Art Fund grant:
- Acquired in:
- Private vendor
His bride was the fourteen-year-old daughter of the Duke of Modena and a Catholic, an unpopular choice with the British public, as it was taken as an indication that James had accepted the Catholic faith. The suit is a unique survival of historical British royal dress, made and worn for a specific occasion. It is a great example of men's 17th century fashionable dress when they began to wear the simpler, three-piece suit of coat, vest, and breeches. The coat bears the embroidered Star of the Order of the Garter on the left breast. Although there are buttons from neck to hem, these were never used as it was customary to leave the coat undone in order to reveal the rich silk vest and costly lace ruffles and cravat. The breeches are perhaps the rarest and most fascinating feature, illustrating the complexity of the transition from full-skirted petticoat breeches to knee breeches.