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.

26 Annotations

First Reading

JWB  •  Link

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

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

Samuell on his country run could have got his outfit here:…
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

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

Firenze  •  Link

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

"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

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

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.…

Bonnie  •  Link

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Jesse  •  Link

"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

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

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

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

Per 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 Manhattan now.

cgs  •  Link

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

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.

cgs  •  Link

"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.

Second Reading

arby  •  Link

Thanks, Bill.

Matt Newton  •  Link

Church today.
Twice. Anyone any ideas of service times?
From previous entries it appeared in order to turn up late and/ or leave early if the sermon wasn't up to par.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ‘ . . costing me about 17l..’

This is impractical conspicuous consumption, displaying taste, wealth and status to impress the world. So the appropriate multiplier is not the puny 120:1 used to get today’s price for everyday consumables but ‘economic status value = income value = per capita GDP’ = 5,200:1. 17L equates to c. 90,000L today, the cost of an expensive motor car (e.g. the BMW 6 Series Convertible Range 67,000 - 101,000 L…).…

No doubt we’ll soon read tales of woe about wear and tear and dirt spoiling the effect, the equivalent of the first scratches of a new Beamer’s paintwork.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Matt Newton : Terry Foreman emailed me about this as I have stopped regularly annotating. Our Sam had become quite the reformer in religion. For him, the main purpose of going to church was for the sermon (OK, rephrase that his unstated main purpose was to ogle pretty women and to be seen by his peers in his own gallery seat). So, he would ensure he came to church in time to hear the sermon. The Navy Office had their own gallery with its own entrance so this need not have been too disturbing). He is often quite critical of sermons. I am unsure quite what he disliked about the sermons he expressed dislike of. In the country, service times were arranged around agricultural requirements, so the time was mid morning after the cows had been milked. Afternoon service would have been whilst it was still light to save the expense of candles. It probably varied a bit with the seasons.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

What a treat to have a visit from Australian Susan. I'd like to know where to find info on what the readings were each week at Church. I'm intrigued by Pepys' growing ability to ignore Christian teachings.

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