Wealth and the monarchies of Europe

Perhaps the single biggest factor influencing fashion in the sixteenth century was the wealth of European kingdoms and powerful city-states in Italy. Trade and exploration had led to a boom in the economies of Europe, and the textile, or fabric, industries were at the center of that boom. Wool production in England and silk production in Italy were especially important. These industries allowed for the creation of rich fabrics. At the same time tailors guilds, or associations of craftsmen, proved very skilled at turning these fabrics into luxurious clothes. The monarchs and the members of their court were enriched by these trends and could afford the most expensive clothes. But the guild members, traders, and merchants who made up a growing middle class could also afford these clothes.

The powerful kings and queens who led European nations believed that one of the ways that they could display their power was through their clothing. Powerful leaders had always set an example by their clothes, but King Francis I of France (1494-1547), who ruled from 1515 to 1547, was the first to become a true fashion

The family of Emperor Maximilian I wearing layers of rich, ornate clothing and jewelry. The powerful kings and queens who led European nations believed one of the ways they could display their power was through their dress. Reproduced by permission of © Archivo Iconografco, S.A./CORBIS.

trendsetter. He deliberately and carefully chose unique and outlandish outfits, and then challenged members of the royal court to adopt his styles as a way of asserting his leadership. Other monarchs followed Francis's lead. French King Henry III, who ruled from 1574 to 1589, set new standards for French luxury and popularized the use of lace for men, though his critics said that he dressed too much like a woman. Perhaps the greatest fashion trendsetter of the century was Elizabeth I of England, who ruled from 1558 to 1603. This pow-

Elizabeth England

erful female ruler drove fashion to extremes in her pursuit of richness and ornament. Upon her death she was said to have collected three thousand gowns, eighty wigs, and an abundance of jewelry.

Fashion historian Ruth M. Green commented in the introduction to Jack Cassin-Scott's Costume and Fashion in Colour, 1550—1760, "fashion was initiated in courts and spread from them like ripples in a pond." Merchants and members of the middle class followed the lead of the court, and poorer members of society even tried to find ways to imitate the styles of those above them in the social order. The poorest people could scarcely copy the fashions of the wealthy, but they did change the form of their garments to follow trends and could sometimes gain access to discarded or secondhand garments.

The pressure to keep up

People's attempts to stay in fashion could be very costly. In England and France large owners of land were expected to entertain the monarch and their court when they traveled about the country. They felt pressured to throw large parties and to clothe themselves and their families in the latest and most expensive fashions. When the royal courts traveled, they nearly made the outlying nobles go broke trying to keep up with their standard of display. As Michael and Ariane Batterberry wrote in Fashion: The Mirror of History, "At the great country houses the 'progresses' of the queen and her entourage were as welcome as a visitation from assassins."

Monarchs and nobles weren't the only ones giving fashion guidance during the sixteenth century. People began to use new printed books to get information about clothing and manners. The first book of fashion advice for men was Count Baldassare Castiglione's Il Cortegiano (1561), which was translated into several languages, including English as The Book of the Courtier. Along with advice on conversation, horse riding, and other manners, Castiglione urged men to develop their own sense of style. Similar books soon became available for women.

Basic garments of the century

For all the changes that fashion brought to the clothing of the sixteenth century, the basic form of garments remained fairly stable.

The standard garments worn by men were hose and breeches for the lower body and a doublet, a padded overshirt, with attached sleeves for the upper body. During the early part of the century men often wore a prominent codpiece over their genitals, but this garment virtually disappeared by the end of the century. Both men and women wore ruffs, wide pleated collars, around their necks. Men wore a shirt beneath their doublets, and they wore a variety of cloaks and mantles, a type of cape, over the doublet. Perhaps the most memorable was the mandilion, a cloak draped over one shoulder almost purely as a fashion statement. The basic garment for women was the gown, but it was far from simple. Actually a combination of several garments, including bodice, sleeves, skirts, and underskirts, sixteenth-century gowns have been considered some of the most beautiful garments of any era in history.

The fact that certain garments were worn consistently throughout the century does not mean those garments stayed the same. The cut, color, and finish of garments changed considerably in response to fashion. People used embroidery, jewels, lace, ribbons, and many other forms of decoration to continually seek ways to express their own sense of style.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Batterberry, Michael, and Ariane Batterberry. Fashion: The Mirror of History. New York: Greenwich House, 1977.

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

1975.

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

Jones, Ann Rosalind, and Peter Stallybrass. Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

LaMar, Virginia A. English Dress in the Age of Shakespeare. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1958.

Laver, James. Costume and Fashion: A Concise History. 4th ed. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

"Overview of an Elizabethan Outfit." The Elizabethan Costuming Page. http://www.costume.dm.net/overview.html (accessed on August 6,

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

Bases

Bases were a form of skirt, worn by upper-class members of the military, that were a striking departure from typical men's costume of the sixteenth century. During this period, most men wore a doublet, a slightly padded short overshirt, with hose and breeches. The bases replaced the hose and breeches. They were made of stiff, heavy cloth, and consisted of panels of fabric, often in alternating colors. The panels were attached to an inner lining in such a way as to make each of the panels either rounded or pleated. These skirts were worn for ceremonial purposes throughout Europe, especially for the large military reviews that allowed European armies to show off their strength. Men typically wore form-fitting leg stockings beneath the bases.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

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

Men Stockings
Bases were a form of skirt, made of heavy panels of fabric, worn by upper-class members of the military. Reproduced by of © Art & Immagini srl/CORBlS.

ermission

Bombast was absolutely essential to the men's and women's clothing of the sixteenth century, yet it was never actually seen. Bombast was a form of stuffing made from cotton, wool, horsehair, or even sawdust. It was used to pad and add shape to a variety of garments, including the shoulders, chest, and stomach of the doublet, a kind of overshirt, and bodice; the bulky legs of men's hose like pumpkin breeches and Venetians; or the sleeves and shoulders of women's gowns. These garments could not have attained their a a a CODPIECE

exaggerated shape without the use of bombast. Today, the word "bombast" is used to refer to exaggerated speech or writing, and someone who uses such speech is referred to as "bombastic."

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.

[See also Volume 3, Fifteenth Century: Doublet; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Hose and Breeches; Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Gowns]

^During the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, the most common everyday clothing for men was a kind of short jacket or overshirt called a doublet worn with thick woolen, linen, or silk hose. The hosiery of the time consisted of two separate stockings that covered the legs but left an opening at the top that exposed the wearer's genitals. To preserve modesty and protect the genitals, medieval tailors invented the codpiece around the mid-l400s. The codpiece, called a braguette in French, was a flap or pouch of fabric sewn at the top of a man's hose to hide his genitals from view.

While the codpiece was originally created to provide modesty, it evolved into a fashion statement. By the early 1500s, the codpiece had grown larger and more decorative and had become a way to advertise one's masculinity, by exaggerating the size of his genitals. Though doublets became long enough to cover the genitals, most had a special opening in the front for the codpiece to stick through in a visible way. Some codpieces were even designed to curve upward to resemble an erect penis. Fashionable men, led by England's King Henry VIII (1491-1547), padded their codpieces to enormous sizes and decorated them with jewels. Some even used them as a sort of pocket, hiding small weapons or valuables there.

Priests and other clergy were horrified by the new style and spoke out against it. The codpiece did indeed get smaller by the

mid-1500s, possibly because Queen Elizabeth I (1533—1603) was the new ruler of England and did not appreciate this example of male vanity. By 1575 the codpiece had disappeared, replaced by short padded breeches, or pants, which provided coverage.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

All the Rage. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1992.

Buy Ancient Style Codpiece

Called a braguette in French, the codpiece was a flap or pouch of fabric sewn at the top of a man's hose. Reproduced by permission of © Archivo Iconografico, S.AJ CORBIS.

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

Sichel, Marion. History of Men's Costume. London, England: Batsford,

Though farthingales were rarely seen, they were the item most responsible for the various distinctive shapes of women's skirts in the sixteenth century and beyond. A farthingale was a series of stiff hoops, usually made of wood or wicker, sewn into a fabric underskirt. It was anchored to the waist with ties and worn beneath a skirt to give the outer skirt a distinct shape.

The first farthingales were worn in Spain in about 1470 and were called vertugados. They had a small hoop just below the waist, with ever larger hoops further down the skirt. These hoops gave the skirt a perfect cone shape and allowed the outer skirt to drape in a smooth manner. As these farthingales became popular in France and England they became known as the Spanish farthingale. Many women in France and England wore two skirts over their farthingale, with the outermost skirt parted in front to reveal the contrasting middle skirt.

Later in the sixteenth century women began to experiment with widening the tops of their skirt profile. At first they added a padded roll around their waist, but later they adjusted the shape of the farthingale. One type of farthingale, called a French, wheel, or drum farthingale, used a series of identically round interior hoops. These gave the farthingale a cylindrical or drum shape. The outer skirt fit closely at the waist and then spread out over the farthingale in a cascade of folds. Finally, a bell farthingale used a combination of padding and hoops to give the skirts a large bell-shaped

Though farthingales faded from widespread use by about the mid-seventeenth century, other forms of structures to give shape to skirts evolved over time including panniers, crinolines, and bustles.

1984.

profile.

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.

LaMar, Virginia A. English Dress in the Age of Shakespeare. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1958.

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

The only appropriate outfit for a well-bred woman of the sixteenth century was a complex ensemble that is known by the simple terms "gown," or "dress." These gowns, depicted in great detail in the many surviving paintings from the period, reveal the riches available to the members of the courts that surrounded European royalty. They could be constructed of luxurious materials like silk, velvet, and lace; lavishly adorned with pearls, beads, and jewels; and decorated with the most intricate patterns of stitching and embroidery. Those gowns worn by members of royalty and wealthy noblewomen were truly works of art. Even common women dressed in gowns that mimicked the wealthy in form, though not in the quality of the materials.

The lavish gowns worn by women from this period were made from at least three distinct parts: a bodice, a skirt, and sleeves. The bodice covered the torso and was similar to a man's doublet, the tight fitting double-layered garment that covered the body from shoulders to waist. The neckline opening of the bodice could vary widely in size, though the most common style was to have a large opening that revealed much of the shoulders and crossed the chest in a slight upward curve just above the breasts. By the end of the century necklines had grown very daring, revealing a woman's cleavage. Most often, however, the area above the neckline was filled with a chemise, a light, sometimes transparent shirt that rose to the neck and that very often ended in an attached and highly decorative ruff, a wide

pleated collar. The front of the bodice was a V-shaped panel that came to a defined point at or below the waist. This triangular panel, called a stomacher, was often stiffened with bone or wood and padded with bombast in order to create a flat-chested appearance.

Attached to the bottom edge of the bodice was the skirt. While the bodice was intended to give the woman a slim silhouette, the skirts worn in the sixteenth century were very wide and full and reached all the way to the floor. Skirts were made of overlapping panels and used yards and yards of fabric. They were given their distinctive shape by farthingales, rigid hoops made of cane, bone, or wood. Stitched to the interior fabric of the skirt and anchored at the waist, these farthingales could give the skirts a distinct cone shape, as with the Spanish farthingale, or a drum or wheel shape. Some gowns had a wide opening at the front of the skirt that revealed either a separate underskirt or an interior panel of a different fabric, called a partlet. Women might also wear a decorative apron at the front of the skirt or a safeguard to protect the skirt when the woman was outdoors.

The final component of the gown was the sleeves. Some bodices had attached sleeves, but many sleeves were made separately and were attached to the bodice at the shoulders by means of points, or small ties. Sleeves varied tremendously in style, from formfitting to quite puffy, from a simple single fabric to intricate panels of several fabrics with lace, ribbons, and bows. Most sleeve styles combined some form of puff, often at the shoulder, with sections of more closely fitted fabric. Sleeves usually ended in an ornamental cuff. Many women also wore false sleeves, which hung at the sides of the dress.

Gown styles varied slightly from country to country, with Germans preferring a high-waisted look and Spanish women preferring a cone-shaped skirt, but all grew more ornate as the century

APRONS AND SAFEGUARDS

Aprons and safeguards were two garments women used to protect their elaborate gowns. An apron was a panel of fabric worn at the front of a skirt, while a safeguard was a full outer skirt meant to protect the wearer from the weather. The garments were endlessly flexible in their form and their quality, allowing them to be worn by all classes of women.

For the poorest women, who might only have one nice skirt, an apron was worn to protect the skirts while working. A crude apron might be made of plain wool or cotton. Wealthy women wore aprons more for decoration than for protection. Their aprons could be made of luxurious fabrics like silk or velvet, and their patterns were chosen to complement the skirt. Fancy aprons were trimmed out in decorative lace and might be embroidered with intricate patterns. Aprons attached at the waist with a tie.

Safeguards were generally worn by wealthy women seeking to protect their expensive gowns. While these outer skirts were worn for protection, a stylish woman would have her safeguard made to match her outfit.

progressed. Queen Elizabeth I of England, who ruled from 1558 to 1603, was known for her fantastically lavish gowns, and she set the style for all of Europe. At her death she was said to have possessed over three thousand different gowns.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

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

1975.

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

LaMar, Virginia A. English Dress in the Age of Shakespeare. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1958.

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

1760fashion

For the poorest women, who might have only one nice skirt, an apron was worn to protect their clothing while working. Reproduced by permission of © Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS.

[See also Volume 3, Fifteenth Century: Doublet; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Bombast; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Farthingales; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Ruffs; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Sleeves; Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Gowns]

For the poorest women, who might have only one nice skirt, an apron was worn to protect their clothing while working. Reproduced by permission of © Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS.

■ Hose and Breeches

M en in the sixteenth century had a number of choices about what to wear on their lower body, almost all involving some combination of breeches, or baggy pants, and hose. The basic combination of hose for the lower legs and breeches for the waist and upper legs had been in use since about 1200.

The simplest part of the hose and breeches combination was the hose, a precursor to knit stockings. Hose were made from a loosely woven fabric and they were cut on the bias, or diagonally,

which allowed them to fit the legs snugly. It was very fashionable to show off the shape of the legs, and upper-class men sought out tailors skilled in making tight-fitting hose. Late in the century knitting began to be used to make hose, which made for a stretchy, formfitting look, but did not become common until the seventeenth century. If worn with longer breeches, hose might reach just to the knee and be held in place by a garter. By the fifteenth century, however, tailors had developed the ability to join what were once two

The man and boys are wearing hose and pumpkin breeches, which were often made in panels of alternating fabric and padded to give them a particular shape. Reproduced by permission of © Historical Picture Archive/ CORBIS.

Renaissance Melon Shaped Trunk Hose

separate leg hose into one garment, joined at the crotch. This allowed for full-length hose and shorter breeches, allowing more of the leg to be shown. Hose might be made in a variety of colors, though off-white seems to have been the most common.

Breeches, a form of pants, came in a wide variety of styles. The most common form of breech was called the trunk hose. Trunk hose were attached to the bottom of the doublet, a padded overshirt, with points, or small ties, and bagged outward before fastening on the upper leg. They looked almost like a puffy short skirt. Trunk hose were often worn with canions, a loose-fitting hose for the upper leg. An exaggerated form of trunk hose was known as pumpkin breeches. Made with contrasting vertical panels of fabric, these breeches ballooned outward, making it look as if the wearer had a large pumpkin about his waist. Venetians were a form of breeches that reached to the knee; they were padded at the waist and upper thigh and grew slimmer as they reached the knee. Pluderhose were baggy all the way from the waist to the knee, and the baggy fabric hung down to hide the fastening at the knee. The longest breeches, known as slops, reached all the way to the calf.

Breeches could be made from a variety of fabrics, including wool, cotton, silk, and velvet, and could be among the most intricate of men's garments. In many cases breeches were made in panels of alternating fabric, and they might be trimmed out with lace strips of fur. Very often breeches were padded with bombast, a form of stuffing, to give them a particular shape. Although padded breeches were most common among upper-class men, simple hose and breeches were worn by men of all classes.

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.

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

[£ee also Volume 2, Europe in the Middle Ages: Hose and Breeches; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Bombast]

O ver the top of their doublets (a slightly padded overshirt) and jerkins (a close-fitting, often sleeveless, jacket), men of the sixteenth century wore a number of jackets or cloaks. These cloaks were worn for warmth but also for decoration. Some were made in a material that matched the wearer's hose. Late in the century one such cloak, called a mandilion, was used almost entirely for decorative purposes. The mandilion was a long-sleeved, hip-length cloak that opened down the front; it could be made of silk, velvet, linen, or other fabrics.

What made the mandilion unusual was the way it was worn, especially by the soldiers among whom it was popular. Instead of wearing it over both shoulders like a regular cloak, stylish men draped the mandilion over one shoulder, leaving one sleeve hanging down the front and the other down the back. For reasons that are not known, to wear the mandilion in this manner was called "Collie-Westonward." It became so common to wear the mandilion this way, according to fashion historian Virginia LaMar in English Dress in the Age of Shakespeare, that tailors eventually made the jackets with false sleeves since they were never used.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

LaMar, Virginia A. English Dress in the Age of Shakespeare. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1958.

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

: Ruffs

O ne of the most distinctive fashions of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the ruff was a wide pleated collar, often stiffened with starch or wire, which stood out like a wheel around the neck. Expensive and time-consuming to care for, the ruff was only

for the wealthy. Ruffs had the effect of holding the head up in a proud and lordly pose, which made them popular with nobility across Europe. Both men and women wore the awkward ruff.

In the late 1400s the necklines on men's doublets, slightly padded short overshirts, and women's gowns opened to reveal the shirts worn underneath. These shirts were often closed at the neck by means of a drawstring laced through the edge of the fabric. When such a string was drawn tight, it produced a gathered ruffle around the neck. This ruffle soon became fashionable, and it grew in size until it became a separate piece of cloth or lace that was tied around the neck. The first wide ruffs appeared in Spain, but they soon spread to England, France, Italy, and Holland, where they remained popular well into the seventeenth century.

Over the course of their two-century history, ruffs varied greatly in size and style.

They might be as narrow as an inch or as wide as twelve inches. Ruffs could be closed, which meant that they kept their flared shape all the way around the neck, or open, which meant that they extended to the sides and back only. Open ruffs allowed for easier movement of the head, and they allowed women to reveal their upper chests, or cleavage, as was fashionable in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Especially after the introduction of starch in 1560, ruffs could be made to stand very stiffly away from the neck, though many people preferred a ruff that lay flat. Ruffs were often made of lace and paired with lace cuffs at the sleeves.

Ruffs created controversy in the sixteenth century. Protestant groups that protested against excesses in fashion singled out the ruff for criticism, calling the larger ruffs "millstones" or "cartwheels." Ruffs were somewhat impractical: they restricted movement considerably, and those who wore wide ruffs often had to eat with special long utensils so that they could reach their mouths. Some European governments tried to pass laws to restrict their size. Queen Elizabeth I of England, who ruled from 1558 to 1603 and who

Ruff Collar Costume
The ruff was a wide pleated collar, often stiffened with starch or wire, which stood out like a wheel around the neck. Ruffs had the effect of holding the head up in a proud and lordly pose, which made them popular with nobility across Europe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

loved to wear ruffs herself, passed a law in 1580 that limited the size of ruffs worn by people outside her court. She even posted guards at the gates of the city of London in England to monitor the size of ruffs. Like most laws limiting clothing, called sumptuary laws, this law did not have much effect.

It took a lot of work to care for a ruff properly. They were preserved by servants in special boxes. Starch was painted on the white linen fabric used to make ruffs. The fabric was then carefully folded into pleats, sometimes in the shape of figure eights. They were then pressed and dried with a hot round rod called a goffering iron. The very wide cartwheel ruffs were too heavy for starch alone and required a metal framework over which the linen fabric was stretched.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

All the Rage. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1992.

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

LaMar, Virginia A. English Dress in the Age of Shakespeare. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1958.

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.

Fabric arm coverings, or sleeves, were an essential part of the clothing ensemble worn by both men and women during the Renaissance. Although sleeves were sometimes attached directly to

MEDICI COLLAR

The ultimate extension of the ruffs, or wide pleated collars, that were so popular among the wealthy in the sixteenth century was the Medici collar. A Medici collar provided a large, decorative frame around the sides and back of a woman's head. The collar was typically worn with a gown with a décolleté neckline, a low neckline that revealed a woman's cleavage. Supported by wire or heavy starch, these collars of lace, embroidered satin, or some other light material could reach great heights, towering over the shoulders and head of the wearer. They might be studded with tiny jewels and could be worn with a normal ruff if desired.

The Medici collar was introduced and named after Catherine de Médicis, who was Queen of France from 1560 to 1574. The collar may be most associated, however, with Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603), whose great flair for dramatic clothing styles made her the fashion trendsetter of the century. Medici collars have remained in use up to the present day, though they are now worn only in pageants or shows.

men's doublets (overshirts) and jerkins (jackets) or to the bodice of women's gowns, just as often they were made separately and were attached to garments by means of points, or small ties at the connecting end of both garments. Because these sleeves were interchangeable, they could be worn with a variety of garments to create a different look.

There was a huge variety of sleeve styles that were worn during the sixteenth century and beyond. They all used some of the several distinctive sleeve styles, including puffs, panes, and padding. Puffs were large bunches of fabric that puffed out in a circle around the arm. They were most common at the top of the sleeve, near the shoulder, but could also appear at the elbow or at the wrist. One German sleeve of the midcentury featured a series of puffs all the way down the arm. Another common sleeve feature was panes. These were panels of fabric that ran the length of the sleeve. They might be in contrasting colors or fabrics and were sometimes pleated. A popular style of the late century was called rising panes and featured a series of panes caught into vertical puffs. Also late in the century padding and stiffening was added to allow sleeves to hold a rounded melon shape. All of these features were used to add volume to various parts of the arm.

Most sleeves combined puffs and panels with a length of sleeve that was very close fitting. These features were adorned with ribbons, jewels, slashing, a decorative technique that involved making small cuts in the outer fabric of a garment, and other decoration. Both men and women might also wear false sleeves along with regular sleeves. These attached at the shoulder but hung down behind the arm, often in large billows of fabric.

Sleeves were an essential part of the wardrobe, so they were made in the same rich fabrics as other garments, including silk and velvet. They often had fancy lace or linen cuffs attached to the ends of the sleeves.

History Clothing Europe
Sleeves were an essential part of sixteenth-century fashion. Sometimes sleeves were attached directly to the clothing, and other times they were made separately and were attached by means of small ties. Reproduced by permission of© Francis G. Mayer/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.

[See also Volume 3, Fifteenth Century: Doublet; Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Gowns]

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