Seventeenth Century Clothing

^The clothing worn by Europeans during the seventeenth century was influenced by fashion trends—rapid changes in style influenced by trendsetters—as never before. During the course of the century garments went from restrictive to comfortable and back to restrictive again, and excessive ornament was both stripped away and added back to clothing for both men and women. While the very wealthy continued to determine the styles that were most popular, political preferences and the rise of the middle classes also began to have a significant influence on fashion.

From ornamentation to elegance

Fashions in the early seventeenth century continued the trends of the previous century: men's doublets and women's bodices were worn tight and stiffened with rigid stays or padding; women's skirts were given full, rigid shapes with the help of farthingales, or hoops; and the garments of both sexes were laden with ornamentation, from jewelry to lace to the showiness of multiple contrasting fabrics. By the 1620s, however, styles began to change fairly dramatically. While the garments worn remained the same, such as the doublet, breeches, and hose for men and long gowns for women, the overall trend through the midcentury was toward softness and comfort. To allow for easier movement, waistlines on doublets and women's bodices rose higher, and the padding on both doublets and bodices was removed. The starched ruffs and whisks that once encircled the neck were replaced with the softer, more comfortable falling and standing bands. Women's sleeves began to rise, showing first the wrist and then the entire forearm. With the exception of petticoat breeches, men's breeches lost their bagginess and became slimmer and easier to move in. People continued to value rich materials and

exquisite design, but they set aside the rigid formality of earlier years and didn't add ornament for ornament's sake. Overall, the trend through the first sixty years of the century was toward looseness, comfort, and elegance.

French influence

These changes in fashion reflected the rising influence of France, with its freer sense of style, and the shrinking influence of Spain, with its stiff formality. French King Louis XIV (1638-1715), who ruled from 1643 to 1715, helped make France the leading fashion influence of the century. Louis believed that he could best lead his country by setting an example of style and taste in everything from architecture and furniture to food and fashion. He surrounded himself with a huge court of officers and advisers and held numerous lavish balls at which wealthy nobles competed to wear the most tasteful and elegant clothes. Louis's palace at Versailles became the center for French fashion. At the same time, France became Europe's leading producer of luxury goods. French cities led the production of silk, lace, and brocade, and they aggressively exported these materials to other countries, expanding their influence. France also exported its fashion in other ways as well such as through fashion publications.

Cavalier versus Roundhead

Though the preferred styles were simpler than in the sixteenth century, French fashions were still quite ornate. In fact, the French love of sumptuous fabrics and carefully chosen accessories led to a revival of fashion excess after about 1660. Stomachers stiffened and lengthened once more, and the overall profile of both men's and women's garments emphasized vertical lines that made wearers look tall and slim. For women tall hairstyles, high-heeled shoes, and long

FIRST FASHION PUBLICATIONS

Finding out what the latest fashions were before the seventeenth century was fairly difficult. Members of royalty—kings, queens, princes, and princesses—set fashion trends, and one had to actually see noblemen or women to get an idea of new trends. Some royals sent their tailors around the country with life-size dolls dressed in the latest styles to spread news of fashion changes. Then, in 1672, the first fashion magazine began publication in France. Called Mercuure Galant, the magazine began to regularly offer comment on the latest clothing styles and was read throughout Europe. The French also led the way in the creation and circulation of fashion plates, beautiful illustrations of the latest garments that guided the work of tailors. (The term "fashion plate" would later be used to describe someone who was always dressed in style.) By the end of the century, many Parisian printers began selling fashion plates, or engravings of fashionable clothes. The trend has not yet stopped, with fashion magazines, such as Elle and Vogue, selling internationally by the millions in the twenty-first century.

skirt extensions, called trains, all added to the effect. Ornament, in the form of decorated swords and baldrics, fancy lace collars, and high rolled boots, came back into style.

While the new lavish clothing styles were adopted by some, others rejected the excessive ornamentation in favor of more restrained styles. Throughout the century people's clothing styles diverged along these artistic lines. But clothing styles during the seventeenth century were not merely about looks; a person's choice of clothing also told the world about his or her religious or political positions.

Those who favored the new lavish clothing styles came to be known as Cavaliers, after those well-dressed soldiers who fought in support of the Catholic King Charles I in the English Civil War (1642—48). The Cavalier style soon was associated with a political position that favored the Catholic religion and a strong king. But not all followed this style or this political position. Another group, named after the Roundheads, who fought in support of Parliament, or the governing body in England, in the English Civil War, favored Protestant religions and wanted to give more political power to the people, especially by strengthening representative bodies like the English Parliament. The Roundheads soon developed a style sense of their own. They avoided the ornamentation and excess associated with Cavaliers, instead preferring more sober colors and less decorated fabrics. The most notable fashion innovation associated with the Roundheads was the introduction of the waistcoat and justaucorps as common men's garments, replacing or worn over top of the doublet.

The most extreme Roundheads were the Puritans, a strict religious sect that held strong ideas about avoiding excess in personal display. Puritans favored black clothes, simple fasteners, and clean lines. Being a Roundhead or a Puritan did not mean that one did not care about fashion, however. Roundheads valued rich if not ornate materials, and the richer followers of this style hired skilled tailors to give their garments a fine cut and finish. The split in fashion sense between the Cavaliers, who were most numerous in the Catholic countries of France, Spain, and Italy, and among Catholic sympathizers in England, and the Roundheads, who lived in the more heavily Protestant countries of England, Scotland, Germany, and Flanders (present-day Holland and Belgium), was one of the major fashion facts of the century.

Although the clothing of the seventeenth century required rich, textured fabrics and elegant trim, the overall trend was toward softness and comfort. Reproduced by permission of© Stapleton Collection/CORBIS.

Quickly changing fashions

The powerful influence of French fashion and the conflicting attractions of the Cavalier and Roundhead styles contributed to a quickening of the pace of change in the world of fashion. Another factor was the rising power of the middle class. Throughout the European countries shopkeepers, lawyers, doctors, and other skilled workers gained access to greater wealth and were able to afford more

Pics Clothes Seventeenth Century

expensive clothes. They soon mimicked the styles of the nobles, and the nobles in turn developed new clothing customs to set themselves apart. Styles changed much more quickly. One fashion historian marked seven changes in sleeve style in a two-year span. It became harder and harder to keep up with the latest fashions. Rulers made laws, called sumptuary laws, in order to keep "common" people from wearing the clothes favored by the wealthy, but these laws were ineffective and difficult to enforce. The poorer people remained outside the fashion loop, and continued to wear simplified versions of the garments of the wealthy in everyday fabrics such as wool and cotton.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Contini, Mila. Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. Edited by James Laver. New York: Odyssey Press, 1965.

Cosgrave, Bronwyn. The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.

Cunnington, C. Willett, and Phillis Cunnington. Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century. Boston, MA: Plays, Inc., 1972.

Hart, Avril, and Susan North. Fashion in Detail: From the 17th and 18th Centuries. New York: Rizzoli, 1998.

Hatt, Christine. Clothes of the Early Modern World. Columbus, OH: Peter Bedrick Books, 2002.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Ruby, Jennifer. The Stuarts: Costume in Context. London, England: B. T. Batsford, 1988.

A baldric was a broad belt that was not worn around the waist. Instead, it was strapped over the shoulder; it extended diagonally across the chest, usually from the right shoulder to the left hip. Baldrics were essential attire for soldiers or anyone else who carried swords, which in the seventeenth century was nearly every gentleman. Baldrics were worn on top of the doublet, but usually under any jacket or cloak. They were the equivalent of a gun's holster, in

that they featured an attachment which held the sword in place at the wearer's hip.

Baldrics date back to the time of the Roman Empire (27 B.C.E.-476 C.E.) and were standard gear for most European armies from the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries. A practical baldric was made of leather, but those owned by wealthier gentlemen in the seventeenth century were often decorated with jewelry or featured gold trimming. Men might also wear decorations on baldrics to indicate membership in a military unit. When the baldric was worn without a sword it was generally called a sash.

Across the centuries, baldrics made of cloth were worn by civilians and used to carry bags. They also were worn by members of marching bands, whose instruments were attached to them as they walked in parades. Baldrics have also been used for ceremonial purposes. For example, the drum major of the United States Military Academy band wears a special baldric that is lined with red trimming and features a crossed drumsticks logo, reflecting the fact that the first American soldier-musicians were drummers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Cohen, Richard A. By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions. New York: Random House, 2002.

Oakeshott, R. Ewart. A Knight and His Weapons. 2nd ed. Chester Springs, PA: Dufour Editions, 1997.

Breeches remained the most common form of legwear for men in the seventeenth century. There were important changes to breeches in the seventeenth century that brought them closer to the trousers commonly worn today.

For the first few decades of the century breeches remained as they were in the previous century—baggy, puffy pants that were often given shape with padding known as bombast. By the 1620s, however, men began to discard the padding and wore much slim

mer fitting breeches that came to the knee. The breeches were fastened at the knee with a garter, ribbon, or buttons, and at the waist with a button or drawstring. Hose or stockings covered the lower half of men's legs.

These closer-fitting breeches allowed for easy movement and gave men the tall, slim profile that became fashionable in the middle part of the century. As coats, vests, and justaucorps grew longer, however, the breeches were seldom seen. In later centuries breeches would grow longer, eventually extending all the way to the ankle and becoming modern trousers and pants.

A strange version of the breeches that became popular in the 1660s were called petticoat breeches. Baggy like the trunk hose and pumpkin breeches of an earlier era, these breeches were puffed out to look like a skirt worn with petticoats. Men quickly discarded this fashion in favor of normal breeches, which could be made of a variety of fabrics, from wool to silk.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Davis, R.I.; additional material by William-Alan Landes. Men's 17th & 18th Century Costume, Cut & Fashion: Patterns for Men's Costumes. Studio City, CA: Players Press, 2000.

Hart, Avril, and Susan North. Fashion in Detail: From the 17th and 18th Centuries. New York: Rizzoli, 1998.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

^Vomen wore bustles underneath the backs of their skirts for several centuries beginning in the sixteenth. Bustles consisted of various objects, including cushions, pads, and frames made of wire and wood, that were tied around the waist or directly attached to a woman's skirts. The purpose of the bustle was to add fullness or shape to the skirt, and it was often used in combination with farthingales, which were stiff hoops, or petticoats, that were worn as full underskirts.

The design and filling of bustles, and the manner in which they were worn, changed from century to century, and even from decade to decade. Bustle types related directly to the kinds of dresses currently in style. They were much needed with the full skirts of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, and were used along with farthingales. But when slimmer dress profiles of the mid-seventeenth century were in fashion, bustles were not needed. This cycle occurred again in the nineteenth century. In the 1870s bustles were out of

The purpose of the bustle, worn underneath the back of the skirt, was to add fullness or shape, and it was often used in combination with farthingales, stiff hooped underskirts. Reproduced by permission of © Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS.

1880 Fashion Women

fashion because women were wearing dresses made of smaller amounts of cloth. Fuller dress styles were introduced in Paris in 1880 and London three years later. The bustle that accompanied them was made of a cushion filled with straw, which was sewn directly into the dress. This bustle also included a number of steel half-hoops placed in the dress lining, which thrust out the dress behind the waist.

From the late nineteenth century on, bustles were occasionally worn only with ball gowns. For the most part, however, they have been out of style throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Cunnington, C. Willett, and Phillis Cunnington. Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century. Boston, MA: Plays, Inc., 1972.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

[See also Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Farthingales; Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Petticoats]

■ Falling and Standing Bands

Neckwear was an important component of dress for both men and women in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and they devised many ways to decorate the neck. Most popular in the sixteenth century were the ruff, a stiffly frilled collar that encircled the neck, and the whisk, a wide fanned collar around the back of the neck. By the mid-seventeenth century, when clothing styles were more subtle and understated, the band was more popular and it came in two primary styles: the standing band and the falling band.

Both bands were forms of collars and were either part of a shirt or bodice, or attached to the shirt or bodice with small ties. A band was tied at the neck with band strings, which were finished out with small tassels or decorative knots or balls. The standing band was stiffened with starch and stood up and flared away from the neck at the sides and back; it was open in front. The standing

Most Extravagant Costume
The falling band was a neck decoration made of silk or linen that fastened at the neck and was draped over the shoulders, chest, and back. Painting by Karel van Mander. Reproduced by permission of © Archivo Iconografco, S.A./CORBIS.

band could be as narrow as two inches or, at its most extravagant, as wide as a foot. Many standing bands were trimmed with lace, which remained popular through the century. The larger standing bands were similar to the whisks or golillas worn earlier in the century.

The falling band was more subtle than the standing band. Made of unstiffened silk or cambric, a fine white linen, it fastened at the neck and draped over the shoulders and down the chest and back. Falling bands could extend as far as the edge of the shoulder and might be either very plain, if worn by a Puritan (strictly religious person against excess in personal display), or elaborately trimmed with lace, if worn by a Cavalier (Catholics who favored ornamentation).

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History ofCostume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Yarwood, Doreen. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.

[See also Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Ruffs; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Medici Collar box on p. 484; Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Whisk]

The primary garment worn by women of all social classes was the gown, consisting of a close-fitting bodice with attached decorative sleeves and full skirts. Though the basic form of the garment was very similar to gowns worn during the sixteenth century, a

variety of changes made seventeenth-century garments quite distinct. Perhaps most notable were changes in the way skirts were worn.

The gown of the early seventeenth century continued the fashions of the sixteenth century. Skirts were given their shape by stiff farthingales, or underskirt hoops, and bodices were stiffened with flat stomachers. Sleeves were puffy and full, completely covering the arms. Beginning in about the 1620s the styles began to change quite noticeably. The first change, a shortening of the sleeves to reveal a woman's wrists, marked the first time women's arms were visible in the hundreds of years of European costume history. Soon women's arms could be bared up to the elbow. Often, however, more modest women would wear an undershirt with long lacy sleeves that came over the wrist.

The 1630s saw a general softening of the outline of women's gowns. Stomachers became less rigid and the bodice was allowed to follow the natural contours of the body. Skirts became less rigid as well, as farthingales went out of favor in every European country except Spain, where they remained in use. Underneath the top skirt women now wore petticoats, sometimes several petticoats, to give the skirt shape.

Fashions changed once more after the 1650s. Stomachers grew stiffer and flatter once again, and they also lengthened and came to a point below the line of the waist. As with men's costume, women's gowns sought to give the wearer a thin, elongated profile. Perhaps the most important changes had to do with skirts. Overskirts began to be parted to reveal decorative petticoats. In a popular style called a mantua, or manteau, the overskirt was pulled up at the front and sides and fastened in flowing billows or bunches, revealing a decorative petticoat. The outer skirt of the mantua was often worn very long to form a train, a length of skirt that trails on the ground. Another popular late-century style was the décolleté neckline, a low cut neckline which revealed the upper part of a woman's breasts. More modest women, as always, tended to cover this area with a scarf or a light undershirt.

Women of all classes wore gowns, though there were wide differences in materials and the complexity of the tailoring. Among the wealthy satin was the most popular fabric, followed by velvet and rich brocade. These fabrics were often carefully embroidered, though they were never as ornate and ornamented as in the sixteenth century. Poorer women might wear gowns made of wool or cotton. The

tailoring of their garments was much simpler. While a rich woman's bodice might be made of a dozen different panels, a poor woman's was made of just a few. And while a rich woman might wear five to ten rustling petticoats, a poor woman might wear no petticoat at all beneath her overskirt.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Cassin-Scott, Jack. Costume and Fashion in Colour, 1550—1760. Introduction by Ruth M. Green. Dorset, England: Blandford Press,

1975.

Hatt, Christine. Clothes of the Early Modern World. Columbus, OH: Peter Bedrick Books, 2002.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

[£ee also Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Gowns; Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Stomacher]

■ Justaucorps

A long coat worn over a shirt and vest, the justaucorps was one of the most common overgarments worn by men during the seventeenth century. It was also an important garment in the history of men's coats, for it marked an important stage in the long transition from the form-fitting doublet of the fifteenth century to the loosely fitting frock coat of the nineteenth century.

By the mid-seventeenth century people across Europe were breaking from the stiffness and excessive ornamentation of sixteenth-century fashion and seeking more comfortable garments with longer, more elegant lines. Men began to wear a long garment, based on the doublet, that fit closely in the shoulders and sleeves, but flared outward at the waist and hips. Gradually this collarless garment, called a justaucorps (or justacorps), reached all the way to the calves. The lower part of the garment, called the skirt, might consist of several panels that flared outward over the breeches. The justaucorps

was often fastened only at the neck, and gaped open in an inverted V shape.

The justaucorps was a flexible garment that was altered to fit the fashions of the day. It might have embroidered designs at the hem and the sides, and could be made of either plain wool or sumptuous velvet or silk to suit the wearer's tastes. By the eighteenth century the justaucorps featured wide cuffs and stiffened skirts. Eventually the justaucorps would transform into the collared frock coat, the precursor to the modern suit coat.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Justaucorps For Mens

A long coat worn over a shirt and vest, the justaucorps was one of the most common overgarments worn by men during the seventeenth century. Reproduced by permission of © Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS.

[See also Volume 3, Fifteenth Century: Doublet; Volume 3, Eighteenth Century: Coats and Capes; Volume 3, Nineteenth Century: Coats]

■ Petticoats

A long coat worn over a shirt and vest, the justaucorps was one of the most common overgarments worn by men during the seventeenth century. Reproduced by permission of © Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS.

Petticoats were full skirts that women wore beneath another skirt beginning in the fifteenth century. There were several reasons for wearing petticoats. One reason was practical: Petticoats added body to the skirt and kept the women who wore them warm. But wearing petticoats was usually done to keep in fashion, especially in the seventeenth century. Once women quit using farthingales, or stiff hoops, to add body to their skirts, they turned to petticoats to do the job. Petticoats worn for warmth were made of wool or cotton, while those worn for fashion were made of taffeta, satin, linen, or a combination of starched fabrics.

Petticoat Women Wearing
Petticoats were full skirts that women wore beneath another skirt to add body to the skirt and for warmth. But wearing petticoats was usually done to keep in fashion, especially in the seventeenth century. Reproduced by permission of © Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS.

Petticoats were gathered at the waist and flared outward at the hem. Many were highly ornamental, featuring layers of ruffles, trimming, and lace. Most of the trimming was along the bottom edges, the part most likely to be seen. Beginning in the late seventeenth century women pulled up their outer skirts in a style known as mantua, allowing the petticoats to be seen.

Petticoats were first fashionable to see in the seventeenth century, and then they were mostly an underskirt. After the mid-eighteenth century, petticoats were primarily thought of as a form of underwear. They did come back into fashion in the 1950s and were worn under knee- or calf-length skirts to give them volume. In the 2000s, they are occasionally worn for specific occasions, such as square dances.

Some men in the mid-seventeenth century wore something called petticoat breeches. These elaborately tailored breeches featured loose legs puffed out in a skirt that hung to the knees, and were sometimes worn with smaller petticoat skirts around the calves. This strange style was not around for long.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Cunnington, C. Willett, and Phillis Cunnington. Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century. Boston, MA: Plays, Inc., 1972.

Yarwood, Doreen. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.

The stomacher was an essential part of women's gowns, from about 1570 to 1770. In its most basic form it was a long V- or

U-shaped panel that decorated the front of a woman's bodice, extending from her neckline down to her waist. (Men sometimes also wore a stomacher with their doublets, though this was less common.) The stomacher could either be part of the bodice or a separate garment that fastened to the bodice with ties. The stomacher had two main purposes: to add decoration and to provide structure. Both decoration and structure changed with passing fashions over the long history of this garment.

During the late sixteenth century stomachers were stiffened with wooden slats or whalebone supports to create the stiff, flat-chested profile preferred at the time. The stiffness of the stomacher matched well with the structure provided by the rigid farthingales holding out women's skirts. By the early seventeenth century the rigidity had been removed from women's gowns, and both stomachers and skirts were softer and more flowing. When fashion shifted again in the late seventeenth century the stiffness returned, though the stomacher now was shaped so as to push the breasts upward in the revealing ways preferred in that age. The rigid shaping effects of the stomacher were later accomplished by the corset used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Stomachers also provided an important decorative element to women's gowns. They were often covered in a fabric that contrasted with the rest of the bodice, or complemented one of the skirts. Stomachers were often adorned with ribbons, bows, lace, or, in the sixteenth century especially, jewels. Heavily decorated stomachers became especially popular in the eighteenth century. One of the most popular styles of that century was the échelle or eschelle, a series of bows tied down the front of the stomacher, decreasing in size from the neck to the waist. This style was introduced by French trendsetter Madame de Pompadour (1721—1764), the mistress of French King Louis XV (1710-1774), and was quickly copied throughout Europe as part of a gown style called robe à la française.

And Shape Stomacher Costume
To add decoration and to provide structure, the stomacher was a long V- or U-shaped panel that decorated the front of a woman's bodice, extending from her neckline down to her waist.

ermission of

© Arte & Immagini srl/CORBIS.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Cassin-Scott, Jack. Costume and Fashion in Colour, 1550—1760. Introduction by Ruth M. Green. Dorset, England: Blandford Press, 1975.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Yarwood, Doreen. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.

[See also Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Gowns; Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Gowns; Volume 3, Eighteenth Century: Corsets; Volume 3, Eighteenth Century: Robe à la Française]

This man wears a vibrant red waistcoat. From the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, men's waistcoats were long-sleeved garments worn as middle layers of clothing, over a shirt but underneath a topcoat or justaucorps. Reproduced by permission of © Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS.

Waistcoat

Justaucorps Red

he waistcoat has been one of the standard pieces of formal dress in the West since the late sixteenth century, and it has gone through several changes over time. From the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, men's waistcoats were long-sleeved garments worn as middle layers of clothing, over a shirt but underneath a topcoat or justaucorps. Some men's waistcoats extended only to the waist, hence their name, while others continued several inches lower. Generally, they grew shorter as time passed. Waistcoats were buttoned down the front, and featured collars and pockets. By the eighteenth century, a man's formal suit consisted of a coat, waistcoat, and breeches, or pants.

Women also sometimes wore waistcoats between their outerwear and underwear. Some were sleeved but most were sleeveless. Unlike menswear, however, women's waistcoats were considered intimate apparel, and were not meant to be seen by anyone but the wearer. Still, they cannot be classified as underwear. By the eighteenth century, women wore vest-like waistcoats as riding attire and white, snugly sleeved waistcoats as blouses with long skirts.

The first waistcoats for both sexes were usually made of linen. They were padded and textured like quilts and featured ornate silk embroidery, known as whitework. Though they might be highly decorated, the primary purpose of the early waistcoats was to keep the wearer warm.

In the twentieth century, the waistcoat took on a new meaning as the equivalent of a vest. Different styles are worn for different purposes. Some are luxury designer items that are embroidered or even hand-painted, and donned for dressy occasions. Others are lined and sturdily made, and are worn for such outdoor activities as hunting and fishing or simply when it is too warm to wear a jacket or coat but not hot enough to be outdoors without some form of outerwear.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Hart, Avril, and Susan North. Fashion in Detail: From the 17th and 18th Centuries. New York: Rizzoli, 1998.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Related to the standing collar and the ruff, the whisk was an especially stiff and ornate neck decoration worn during the first decades of the seventeenth century. Like many fashion trends of this period, the whisk originated in Spain, and evolved from the golilla. The golilla was a collar of stiffened fabric or cardboard that was

trimmed in lace and worn with another fabric collar. Adapted for use in England, Germany, and Flanders (present-day Belgium and Netherlands), the whisk was a wide standing collar that was often held in place by a wire framework and made of ornate lace or scalloped fabric. The whisk was rounded in back of the head and had a straight edge that stood over either shoulder.

Ornate almost to the point of excess, whisks represented the high point of the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth-century trend toward ornament. They made moving the head uncomfortable, and were often worn with another collar, adding to the difficulty. By midcentury they had been replaced by the more practical standing and falling bands.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Yarwood, Doreen. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.

[£ee also Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Falling and Standing Bands]

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  • brhane yusef
    Which was a feature of seventeenthcentury garments?
    2 years ago

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