Captain’s Full Dress (1774)

Captain James Tiberius Robertson

The Full Dress, i.e. the gala uniform of our Captain’s James Tiberius Robertson, is the detailed replica of a historical original that is exhibited in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

During a visit to the museum, a large number of detailed photographs of the uniform were taken. In cooperation with the tailor Peter Sendtko, the replica was completed in February 2020.

Captain’s full-dress coat,
1774 pattern.
National Maritime Museum Greenwich.

The almost 250 year old original has of course lost some of its luster over time. In the replica, the original splendor of the blue and gold uniform comes to life again.

Before the 1740s, Royal Navy officers and seafarers did not have specific uniforms. Officers were only distinguished by their upper-class clothing and wigs, which indicated their social status. The coats were often dark blue in order to reduce the fading caused by rain and splashing water. Gold embroidery on the cuffs and stand-up collar indicated the wealth and status of the officer.

In 1748, uniform regulations for naval officers were issued for the first time. The officers’ uniforms initially consisted of an embroidered blue coat with white covers and white knee-breeches.

From 1767, a distinction was made between the “dress” and the “undress”. While the “undress” was worn in the day-to-day operation of a ship, ie a lighter and much less expensive clothing, the “Full Dress” was intended for all gala occasions. These included – from a modern perspective, strange – any fighting.

The officer’s sword was also only worn on official occasions and in battle.

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