Image via gogmsite.net
If you were to pull a Bill and Ted and time machine back to, oh say, 18th-century France, to the home of some aristocrat, you’d probably see some dude dressed in a fancy waistcoat with a mess of white fabric cascading down the front of his shirt. “Haha!” you’d laugh. “Did you have a lobster dinner? Looks like you forgot to take your napkin-bib off!” The ‘dude’ would probably look at you real funny-like, and after much gesturing and word exchange, he’d inform you that the ruffles at his collar are not his serviette, but rather—ahem—his jabot.
Right-e-o, a jabot. Of course! You knew that.
You also knew, naturally, that jabots were de rigeur for gents in the 18th century, and a popular accessory for women come the late 19th century. Generally, they’d be made of lace-trimmed linen or all lace.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Back in the 18th century, jabots were commonly known as chitterlons or chitterlings. They were so hot right then. At least, most people thought so. Washington Irving didn’t, though, and he wrote about guys who were wearing “exuberant chitterlings; which puffed out at the neck and bosom like unto the beard of an ancient he-turkey.” Gobble gobble!
As for the love affair between jabots and women, it began in the 18th century as a popular menswear-inspired adornment to the robe à l’Anglaise. As mentioned before, the jabot hit its peak popularity in womenswear during the late 19th century, as seen in the photo above at left from Harper’s Bazaar, 1896.