Sunday 30 October 1664

(Lord’s day). Up, and this morning put on my new, fine, coloured cloth suit, with my cloake lined with plush, which is a dear and noble suit, costing me about 17l..1 To church, and then home to dinner, and after dinner to a little musique with my boy, and so to church with my wife, and so home, and with her all the evening reading and at musique with my boy with great pleasure, and so to supper, prayers, and to bed.

  1. Let us remember the exchange rate of between 500 to 1000 dollars, US (year 2000), per Pound. This was then a most expensive suit of clothes at $8000 to $17,000. The annual wage for some of Pepy’s servants was 2l. or 3l. per annum. D.W.

20 Annotations

JWB   Link to this

Price of the colored suit w/ plush lining:

We saw 2 weeks ago that the ratio of 1664 silver to 2007 silver was 5/133, so then a 17L suit in 1664 would cost an equivalent 452GBP today or ~ $935-not bad.

A. Hamilton   Link to this

A good bespoke suit costs around L2000 (and up) on Saville Row in 2007. On that basis, Sam's pound had about 120 times the purchasing power of today's. This isn't far off the figure of 100-to -1 cited in earlier price comparisons on this site. JWB's comparison suggests silver was dearer in a relative sense in 1664 than it is today.

cgs   Link to this

Samuell on his country run could have got his outfit here:
http://www.stortfordhistory.co.uk/guide3/high_s...
see Tissimans tailorsaville row

I did not pay that much [17 guinea's] more for a fitted suited with and attending tailor back in the %0's now that same suit be 1500L.
I was tempted to get a Hacker from here, not that long ago for 500 smackers, but they would not take two gold pounds.

Ivo   Link to this

Strange... Sam doesn't mention whether or not people at the church noticed his expensive new suit.

Firenze   Link to this

That's something I like about the 17thC - they didn't do understated. In the absence of banks and credit cards, you wore your wealth, or rode on it, or decorated your house, your wife and your servants with it. Oh I know we dress to impress as well, but it's all so boring: what's a poxy designer label compared to plush-lined cloaks and silver lace?

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"My God. Penn, do you see what I see? There..." Minnes points from the office window toward the rather content figure moving their way, nodding benignly at those it passed. A certain number of whom engaged in heavy snickering after said passing.

"Oh...Bwwha...Is that thing Pepys?"

"It is. A rare avis in all the glory of his fall plummage."

"He looks like he's borrowed one of Castlemaine's dressing gowns. Oh, would that it were our day to report to the Duke..."

"Leave it to me...I'll get our Malvolio over to Whitehall in all his finery."

"See if you can get him to use rouge."

"Now, now...A true lady never takes recourse to paint."

"Gentlemen." Pepys nods on entry.

"Well...Pepys. Nice suit. New, isn't it?" Minnes smiles broadly.

***

Bradford   Link to this

Was it the workmanship which made it so expensive? The color of the fabric? The plush of the lining? As with overpriced suits nowadays, one wonders where exactly the richness lies, aside from the eyes of the beholders, plural. And no dry cleaning when London mud pays tribute.

JWB   Link to this

Price redux

Well Sam would not have paid Saville Row retail, what with having supplied the material & having insider knowledge. Plus, as I tried to show earlier the price of silver has matched the rise in equities over the time period we have useable stats. I would guess that in 1664 Spain had been flooding the market with Silver extracted from America for over a century, its price relative to other goods & services would have been depressed. The Br. Nat'l Archives converter gives 1300GBP for Sam's 17L, which seems out of line to me.
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency/res...

Bonnie   Link to this

Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)

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Terry F   Link to this

Phil that's you and this site (thanks, Bonnie)

http://blogofthedayawards.blogspot.com/

Terry F   Link to this

A better link for Blog of the Day Award for Phil Gyford's Pepys Diary

http://blogofthedayawards.blogspot.com/2007/10/...

Jesse   Link to this

"costing me about 17l"

Most striking for me was the cost compared with the annual servant's pay. I suppose there're all sorts of sociological implications both then and now.

Carl in Boston   Link to this

On the wearing of Elvis outfits around the house:
Wha a beautiful story to read today. Elvis in all his finery. The Red Sox have won the Championship of The World, and Outer Space as well. The Goblins are at the door in all their Halloween finery. Our dog is going nuts.
One thing about bespoke suits at $3,000 ( I don't have one, but I saw one on Victor Borge. I could see the quality from the upper balcony). In a bespoke suit, they get it close by measure and have threads laid in by hand all through the suit between the lining, interfacing, and outer skin. When they make the final fit, they pull out those dozen intermediate threads and $2,000 falls to the floor. One more thing: we were sitting around at Neiman Marcus, someplace like that, the piano player in a tux was bored and asked what we'd like to hear. Behind us a Trophy Wife was ordering ball gowns out of a catalog at $2,000 a crack ( a snip at that price) and in a few minutes she ran up $12,000. That's nothing to the Princess of Arabia we saw at Goode's in London walking around with her entourage in the bargain basement, pointing to things, and shopping at $1,000 a minute. it pays to wear a suit all the time, you're always ready to get in where you don't belong. We went to The Plaza in NYC, bored, my daughter slipped ahead while the bodyguards got busy on me, ever so politely. It was a Middle Eastern wedding, the bridesmaids all in ballgowns, the bride in a "meringue Cinderella Standard Issue with Puff Sleeves" and DIAMONDS in her hair, and all the Bros in those Middle Eastern khafka robes and turbans.
Drive On, Brothers, Drive On. Keep the Faith. Samuel Pepys Forever, showing us the way. If only there were somebody around handing out the graft, I'd know what to do with no problems about it.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Sam's suit would probably have been bright red as that was what " coloured" implied in those days (I think we had a discussion about this some time ago and someone (Pedro?) came up with the information that Colorado's name means its soils are red). This was probably an expensive dye. It would have been made of silk which would have been imported either as cloth or thread. James I tried to establish silk production in the UK and planted mulberry trees in one of the Royal Parks as encouragement, but it failed. This would have added to the expense. And the lace too.
Remember that servants were not paid much as they had their accommodation, all food and clothing (basic) too, so did not have any essential expenditure.
A minor, very minor celebrity here (No 8 in Idol the time before last I think) recently had her wedding all over the pictorial tabloids. Her dress cost $20,000. And a friend of my daughter's paid out $4000 for hers.

Bradford   Link to this

Exactly what one wished to learn, Susan. No doubt the price would have been another guinea or three higher had the tailor stitched on his logo.

Gerry   Link to this

Per measuringworth.com that GBP1205 is worth almost GBP130000 nowadays.
Sam seems happy enough but it's all relative. That amount wouldn't buy even a modest studio apt.in Manhattan now.

cgs   Link to this

Equating carolinian quids for 21st century quids be a nice exercise in trying to understand value of work.
Samuels 1200 livres could buy him , 3 nice houses in London town, or get him 600 gold coins now each worth 792 x 2.08 quid for a total of 950,400 pounds sterling.


A. Hamilton   Link to this

Thanks, Cum grano,

Your entry reminded me of the Private Eye cover showing Princess Di in a sharp and businesslike suit coming out of her divorce solicitor's office door, with the headline, "I've got the quids."

Different goods and services had different relative values then, compared to now. You couldn't buy an automobile for any amount back then, for example. Urban land was probably not as much in demand. But good tailors probably were in as much demand as today for the select clientele that could afford them.

JWB   Link to this

Jan Vermeer
Male Costume Colours
1632-1675
http://www.kipar.org/baroque-costumes/costumes_...

cgs   Link to this

"You couldn’t buy an automobile for any amount back then,"
but then thee could have a carriage and 6 prize plow pullers with reins and a man with a whip to guide them and footman to boot, for few hundred. The hay and oats be the problem, remembering that the English spent more on hay and oats for its waiting horsemen in WWI than it did on shells and other explosives.

JWB : thanks for Vermeer, I was looking at the lasses not noticing the males leering and etc.

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