CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES
Both fashions and the terms used to describe garments underwent
many changes during the period from 1485 to 1649. Meanings have also changed
since. When we read that a woman went to church in 1617 in her “rich night-gown
and petticoat,” it raises eyebrows, but it didn’t then. Also called slops
(which can refer to any loose-fitting garment), the female nightgown dates
from the beginning of the fifteenth century. It could be made of silk, velvet,
satin, or taffeta faced with fur. It fell to the ankles and had long sleeves.
Although it usually served as a dressing gown, it was also worn outside the
house. A man’s nightgown, on the other hand, was a dressing gown, taken off
when he went to bed.
It was customary to will articles of clothing to friends and
family. Thus, styles decades out of fashion at court would often be seen elsewhere.
Only the wealthy could afford a wide range of styles and fabrics.
Portraits are full of detail, showing the texture and color
of fabrics, but in general they show subjects wearing the most formal of
attire. At home or in the more informal setting of the country, many of the layers,
both outerwear and underwear, would likely have been shed. No simple country
housewife ever cooked a meal or cleaned her house wearing a wheel farthingale!
Some clothing had specific social implications, identifying
the wearer as a member of a profession or as the servant of a particular
nobleman. For more details on this function of clothes and accessories, see
From the late fifteenth century through about 1590, the
codpiece, a fabric pouch which covered the penis, existed as a separate article
of male outerwear. It was padded and elaborately decorated throughout the
period from 1514 to 1575, after which it gradually began to diminish in size.
The codpiece sometimes doubled as a pocket, in which men kept their
handkerchiefs and other small items. It was secured by buckles or tied up with
points, points being any ties which attached various articles of dress to each
other. Points might be either visible or concealed. The wealthy had points of
linen or silk thread or ribbon. The poor used strong cord or leather.
Theories about the origin of the codpiece abound. Some say
it was worn as underwear first. Another possibility is that it was designed to
give extra protection in battle. A third theory suggests that the codpiece was
supposed to keep the oily, mercury-based cream many men applied as a treatment
for syphilis from staining doublet and hose.
After the codpiece, the doublet was the most striking part
of a man’s clothing, and usually the most expensive. This close-fitting
garment, worn over a shirt or waistcoat and fitted to the waist, was usually
made by professional tailors. In various styles it was in fashion from 1450 to
Sleeves were a separate garment. Most had wrist-ruffs or
turned-back cuffs. The armhole joint was concealed by a padded roll of material
or a double or single roll of tabs called pickadils. Sleeves were often a
contrasting color to other garments. They changed in shape to match the fashion
Before 1530, doublets and sleeves were “slashed” so that the
layer beneath could be pulled through and “puffed.” Until about 1550 the
doublet had a square silhouette from shoulder to mid-thigh and a high neck. In
the period from 1550 to 1560, padded, pleated bases (a skirt) hung about six
inches below the waist. From 1560 the fitted body of the doublet was longer,
more padded, and had a V-shaped point in the front. It usually fastened with
From 1575 to 1600, the peascod-bellied doublet was
fashionable. This extended well below the hips in a shape something like a
pea-pod and was rigid, unwrinkled, and stuffed with bombast (horsehair, flock,
wool, rags, flax, cotton, or bran) to preserve its square-shouldered shape.
Gentlemen of fashion had to be careful. If they snagged a peascod-bellied
doublet on a nail, they might leak bran! The back of the doublet was lined with
stiff canvas. Most of the buttons were for decoration. This doublet fastened
from armpit to waist on each side like a piece of armor. The front might be
further stiffened inside with a triangular piece of wood the consistency of
After 1590 an alternative style was shorter and
hollow-bellied instead of convex and after 1620 the rigidity of outline
gradually diminished. By 1630, so-called Cavalier dress, with a higher waist,
was in fashion. The doublet was usually left unbuttoned from the breast down.
Puritans wore doublets similar in appearance but undecorated and looser. After
1640 the doublet was again short and without an obvious waistline.
The wealthy had doublets made of brocade, satin, taffeta,
and velvet. The poor wore canvas, fustian, and leather.
Below the waist, men wore hose, a term used only for the
male garment during the years 1400 to 1620. Until around 1570, hose referred
to either the breeches (upper stocks) or the netherstocks (lower stocks, also
called simply stocks), although after 1545 hose generally meant the
netherstocks alone. The term upper stocks went out of use at about that same
time. Breeches fastened to the doublet or waistcoat with points and covered the
body from the waist around the seat and over part or all of the upper leg.
Gentlemen’s stocks were knitted. The hose of poorer people might be sewn of
rough textiles and the bottom might he footless, toeless, or stirrup-shaped.
The term tights was not in use at all during this period,
and until the 1660s the word stockings usually referred to women’s hosiery,
although records do show that Edward VI received a gift of silk stockings made
Underwear was optional. Shirts were underclothing and
commonly made of linen, although they might be made of line lawn or silk. They
were also used to sleep in. Stays were worn under some doublets in the period
The female equivalent of the doublet, at times even
called a doublet, was the body, pair of bodies, or bodice. It had two parts,
the stomacher (a triangular front section) and the bodice proper, which was
joined to the stomacher at the sides with ties, hooks, or pins. Like a corset,
the stomacher was stiffened with busks (flat lengths of bone or wood) inserted
in pockets. The neckline varied greatly and might show the underclothes beneath
or bare skin or be filled with a partlet. The partlet may have gotten its name
because it parted the little round face ruff which could be opened or closed
with aglets (laced through eyelet holes) or hooks and eyes. When the partlet
had sleeves, they were not sewn on but were rather a separate article of
clothing attached with points. After 1550, necklines had either collars or
ruffs attached to them. Very low necklines appeared in the late
Elizabethan and early Jacobean eras.
The gown, at first an overdress worn open in front and
extending from shoulders to ground, came to mean a woman’s dress. The word
dress was not used in its modern sense but rather to refer to the entire
ensemble, as in “court dress.” What looks like a dress to us is the kirtle.
Prior to 1545, kirtle referred to the combination of bodice
or jacket and skirt. After 1545, the two parts were separate and the term
kirtle generally meant only the skirt. By 1625 the term was obsolete and the
garment was called a petticoat. The early kirtle had openings at the front in
both sections, at top to show the stomacher and at bottom to reveal an
underskirt called the forepart.
Sleeves were fastened to the bodice at the shoulder line by
ribbon bows or hooks or pins concealed by decorative rolls of fabric known as
wings. A ruffle or cuff at the wrist matched the ruff or collar. Sleeves might
be in two parts in contrasting colors and came in various shapes. From 1525 to
1560, a funnel shape was common. From 1540 to 1550, sleeves might also be
bell-shaped, worn over embroidered undersleeves and tied back to show puffs of
the shift beneath. After 1560, sleeves might he gathered, tapered, or full. By
1580, leg-of-mutton sleeves, also called trunk or demi-cannon sleeves, were in
As far as can he determined, women in this period, at least
in England, wore neither panties nor underdrawers. In the Middle Ages it had
been argued that the wearing of braies (men’s pants) by women could provoke, by
friction, undesirable “heat” in the female genitals, and the practice was thus
discouraged. In Italy and France, women started wearing long, trouserlike
drawers in the 1530s, but the fact that this practice still struck English
travelers as odd as late as 1617 seems to indicate that Englishwomen did not
adopt the fashion. Cloth pads were used during menstruation, but how they were
held in place is unclear.
Englishwomen wore a chemise, shift, or smock as their
undermost garment. Usually of linen and ankle-length, this garment might be
gathered at the neck to form a soft ruff, which would then show, instead of a
partlet, above the garments worn on top.
Body-stitchets (stays) were an early form of corset. These
were made of heavy canvas, boiled leather (called a basquine and worn over a
quilted underbodice), and even iron. More than one might be worn at the same
time. Trim sometimes showed above the garments worn on top. The husks used for
stiffening were made of wood, steel, or cane until about 1600, after which
whalebone came into fashion.
The farthingale was worn by women of fashion from 1545
through the 1620s. This structure of hoops of rushes, wood, wire, or whalebone
was used to extend the skirt under which it was worn. It converted the columnar
skirt of the fifteenth century into the cone shape of the sixteenth. There were
three distinct versions. The Spanish farthingale was bell-shaped. Originally vertugado,
it was in fashion in Spain in the 1470s and was introduced in England by
way of France (where it was called the vertugale from about 1530). The French
farthingale was a padded roll worn around the hips to create a cylindrical
effect. It was in fashion from about 1570. The wheel, cartwheel, or drum
farthingale was in fashion in the late sixteenth century. The flat top of the
cartwheel above the hoops was made of canvas. It had a hole for the waist and
attached with tapes. The skirt fell directly over the drum shape and the
material was gathered into a narrow waist.
For home wear, women wore plainer fabrics. An open gown
might be worn like a housecoat over a bodice and petticoat of embroidered
linen. The word petticoat could be used for any skirt or underskirt and usually
several were worn.
In cold weather people simply added more clothing: a long
gown, a jacket of lambskins, a fur-lined cloak, padded garments, boot hose with
long boots, and extra petticoats and shirts. Both sexes wore scarves, mufflers,
There were no special riding habits but some women hunted
and hawked in men’s clothing, wearing breeches and high boots.
Infants were swaddled (wrapped in cloth bands), a practice
that was encouraged by doctors who subscribed to the theory of humours (see
Chapter Six for more details). Swaddling was believed to prevent the baby from
losing too much moisture. Swaddling bands almost completely immobilized
children during the first four months of life. At four months the arms were
freed but not the legs.
Young children of both sexes were clothed alike, in gowns
that fell to the feet, aprons, bibs, and caps, until they were four or five
years old. Older children were dressed as miniature versions of adults.
Crude clothing identified the ordinary countryman: coarse
homespun woolen garments of reddish brown for the best garment, worn with
kersey or knitted hose and heavy hobnail shoes. Field clothes were fustian
tunics with loose breeches and canvas leggings buskined (tied in place) with
strips of cloth. Samuel Rowlands (1609) describes a typical countryman’s
headgear as a “greasy hat that had a hole ate through by some rat.” After about
1560, the “thrummed” (fringed or shaggy) hat became associated with the poor.
There seems to be no distinctive dress for the poorest class of women, but a
country maidservant might wear the bodice of her petticoat “laced before” and a
blue or black kirtle.
HAIR, BEARDS AND COSMETICS
Women dyed their hair, bleached it in the sun, and washed it
with alkalized water. Golden hair was highly esteemed but all shades of red and
auburn found favor at court even though very little hair showed beneath some
headgear. From about 1560, hair was curled and pulled back from the forehead,
dressed over a pad and interwoven with pearls and jeweled ornaments. In the
1620s, hair was styled “tete de mouton”—frizzled at the sides with a high bun
at the back and ornamented with ribbon, pearls, or flowers. Maids were
hairdressers for their mistresses. Women might also wear wigs.
Early in the sixteenth century, hair was worn shoulder
length or bobbed to the bottom of the ears. By 1520, chin level was fashionable
and by 1530 styles went even shorter, especially at the back. Hair might be
combed forward at the front to form a short fringe over the forehead. In the
mid-sixteenth century men added a trimmed beard and mustache to short hair.
Later in the century, hair was longer at the sides. From 1625, men of the court
party wore ringlets cascading down their backs. When a single ringlet was tied
with a ribbon bow and pulled over the shoulder it was called a love-lock. Men
did not wear wigs.
Most men were clean shaven before King Henry VIII set the
style for beards and mustaches in the 1520s. Under Mary and Elizabeth there was
no one predominant fashion but the trims included the bodkin beard (long,
pointed, in the center of the chin only), the Cadiz beard (a large, disordered
growth), the pencil beard (a slight tuft of hair on the point of the chin), the
spade beard (cut in the shape of an ace of spades and popular with soldiers
from 1570 to 1605), and the swallow’s tail beard (forked but with the ends long
and spread wide). From 1550 to 1600, it was never in fashion to wear a mustache
without a beard. After 1600 the clean-shaven look came back into style. The
Vandyke beard (a carefully trimmed mustache and pointed chin heard) was popular
during the reign of Charles I.
Puritans disapproved of cosmetics and the poor could not
afford them, but women who could used them in an effort to achieve what was
considered the “standard” for beauty: very white skin, red lips, and lamplike
A powder made of ground alabaster was used to whiten the
skin. Or one could apply a lotion made of beeswax, asses’ milk, and the ground
jawbone of a hog. White fucus, another popular whitener, was made by grinding
up the burned jawbone of a hog, sieving it, and laying it on with oil of white
poppy. Many of these homemade mixtures were benign but some caused scarring and
other skin problems. Ceruse was white lead (a poison) mixed with vinegar. Other
whiteners were a mixture of borax and sulphur, a lotion made of white of egg,
alum, borax, poppy seeds, and powdered eggshell, and a glaze of egg white.
Fucus was a generic term for red dye used to redden the
lips. It may have been made of madder or of red ochre or of red crystalline
mercuric sulfide (which ate the flesh). To redden their cheeks, women used a
mixture of cochineal, white of hard-boiled egg, milk of green figs, alum, and
A freckle was any kind of spot and was anathema to the
Elizabethan woman. To get rid of spots she applied birch-tree sap or ground
brimstone or oil of turpentine or sublimate of mercury (a poison).
Kohl was used to emphasize the eyes, and another poison,
belladonna, was put into them (a custom imported from Venice) to produce huge,
Dental care was primitive, but people did attempt it,
usually by vigorously rubbing or washing their teeth with mixtures such as
white wine and vinegar boiled with honey. Toothpicks and tooth-cloths were popular
gift items. The toothbrush was known by 1649 but was not yet in use in England.
Almost everyone, male and female, wore scent of some kind.
Henry VIII's favorite perfume combined musk, rose water, ambergris, and civet.
Sweet marjoram was the major ingredient in Queen Elizabeth’s favorite scent.
Other perfumes used aloe, nutmeg, and storax. Scents like rose water and
lavender water were distilled at home. More exotic scents were imported.
To cover unpleasant odors, the result of infrequent washing,
fabrics were also heavily perfumed. The custom extended to accessories, and one
seventeenth-century recipe for perfuming gloves advises steeping two spoonfuls
of gum-dragon all night in rosewater mixed with four grains of ground musk and
eight grains of ground civet before adding half a spoonful of a mixture of oil
of cloves, cinnamon, and jasmine. This blend was then beaten into a thin jelly
and rubbed all over the gloves, after which they were left in a dry, clean
place for forty-eight hours. The final step was to rub the gloves with the
hands until the gloves became limber.
aprons: Worn by working classes and country
housewives throughout the period. From 1600 to 1640, fashionable ladies wore
elegant and elaborately decorated versions.
boot hose: From 1560 to 1680, large, loose boot hose
were worn inside boots to protect the hose. They were turned down just below
boots: Boots were well-fitted, sometimes with outside
lacing. By the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, they reached above
the knee. They might be of leather or of russet cloth. Those hanging loose
about the leg and turned down and fringed were called “lugged boots.” Cockers
were knee-high boots of rough make worn by laborers and countrymen. From about
1585, brogues were worn by poor people and some soldiers. Buskins were riding
hoots and reached the calf or the knee.
fans: The hand fan appeared in England by 1572,
having previously been in use in both France and Italy, and quickly gained wide
popularity. Large feather fans were round or semicircular and often had a
small mirror at the center. Others were made of embroidered silk or velvet. Sir
Francis Drake presented Queen Elizabeth with one of red and white feathers with
a gold handle inlaid with half moons of mother-of-pearl and diamonds.
girdles or waistbands (belts): Women’s girdles might
be made of silk, ribbon, velvet covered with small plaquettes, embossed metal,
or metal links. The fashion of wearing a girdle from which trinkets were
suspended continued until about 1600. Wealthy men wore girdles of gold, silver,
embroidered fabrics, velvet, or silk. The poor made do with caddis, a woven
gloves: Worn by everyone and popular as gifts, they
were usually gauntleted and embroidered on the backs and cuffs.
handkerchiefs: In use from the sixteenth century on,
they were also called muckinders (a slang term which could also mean a baby’s
bib) and napkins.
hats: Men remained uncovered only in the presence of
royalty. Otherwise, if a man removed his hat to greet a lady, he put it right
hack on, indoors or out. The size of hats increased under James I and large
feathers and other objects, such as gloves, handkerchiefs, and ribbons might he
stuck onto the hat and into the hatband. Hats for both sexes were made of
velvet, silk, felt, taffeta, beaver, and ermine. Beaver hats were rare until
around 1580. During the second quarter of the seventeenth century most men
wore either hats with moderate crowns and wide brims turned up at one side or a
sugar-loaf-shaped hat called the copotain. Among women, close-fitting linen
caps (coifs) were worn indoors and hoods or hats were added on top to go
jewelry: Often made from melted-down coins, the most
popular types of jewelry were bracelets (made of ornamental gold links,
enameled and jeweled; of rows of pearls or beads of amber, coral, or agate; of
long, black, tubular heads called bugles; or of hair), brooches (worn by men
and women to hold feathers to hats and by women to ornament the bodice),
carcanets (hanging collars of linked ornamental design set with jewels from
which hung little pendants; rarely seen except at court), chains (gentlemen’s
were frequently enameled; ladies wore long chains of stones or pearls),
earrings (not worn until the late Elizabethan period, they were then seen on
both men and women), pendants (worn suspended from chains or ribbons to hang
just below the chest), and rings. Rings were worn by all classes and ranged
from signets to cameos, intaglios, rings set with precious stones, and memorial
masks: Worn to shield the wearer from the sun when
riding and to hide identity, some had glass-filled eyeholes.
muffs, snufkins, or snoskyns: Made of cloth or fur,
the smaller models hung suspended from a woman’s girdle.
pomander: A hollow perforated sphere containing a
waxed perfume ball impregnated with scent. Men wore pomanders suspended from a
chain. Women attached them to their girdles. Often constructed of gold or
silver and set with jewels or engraved or enameled, a pomander might be any
size and could contain ambergris, musk, cloves, or hartshorn. An alternative
style was constructed to look like an orange, with quarters secured at the base
by hinges that opened outward when the top was unscrewed.
shoes: Men’s shoes were generally flat-heeled and
might be made of leather, silk, brocade, or velvet and decorated with silver or
copper gilt buckles or large ornamental rosettes of silk. Under Henry VIII most
shoes were duck-bill shaped. Shoes that more closely fitted the shape of the
foot came into fashion in 1554 but they continued to have broad toes. Some had
ankle straps. Styles of men and women’s shoes went by the same names: mule (a
slipper with no heel piece), pinson (a light indoor shoe), pump (a single-sole
shoe, close-fitting to the ankle, of cloth or thin leather with flat heels),
and slipper (a low-cut indoor shoe). Women’s overshoes, which raised the wearer
out of the mud, included chopines, clogs or pattens (with wooden soles), and
pantofles (cork-soled skuffs which became common after about 1570).
spectacles: Eyeglasses were known as early as the
thirteenth century and generally available after about 1520. Demand
increased after the invention of the printing press. The Guild of Spectacle
Makers was chartered in 1629.
stockings: Women’s stockings were held up by garters
below the knee. Silk, worsted, and fine yarn were all in general use for
stockings by 1580.
watches: The “Nuremberg Egg,” a portable timepiece
invented by Peter Henlien in 1502, may be a myth, but “pocket sundials” were in
general use by 1545 and “traveling clocks” are frequently mentioned after 1575.
Early watches were large and might be octagonal, oval, or round in shape. Their
outer covers were pierced with elaborate openwork to enable the strike to be
heard. After about 1580 the size decreased and watches were used as personal
ITEMS OF CLOTHING
arched hood (1580-1620): This hood made an arch over
the head and was associated with widows.
beguin or Flemish hood: A rectangle of linen
carefully folded into a symmetrical headdress and caught together at the nape
of the neck.
biggin: A cap men wore to bed. It tied under the chin
with laces or ribbon.
bone grace or bongrace (1530-1615): A flat, square
cap with a short flap of velvet on each side.
bonnet: A generic term for the French hood. Low, flat
men’s hats were also called bonnets.
braies: Leg coverings worn under long robes and
tunics, these were the forerunners of hose worn as outerwear.
bum-barrel, bum-roll, or waist bolster: A padded roll
tied around the waist under the skirt to hold it out.
canions (1570-1620): Tubular, thigh-hugging
extensions worn over the area from breeches to knee. Separate netherstocks
could be gartered either over or under the canions.
cap: In men’s wear, a cap was a hat worn by an
inferior person. Women’s caps were worn indoors or under hats.
cassock (1530-1660): Worn by men and women, this was
a loose, hip-length coat with a small collar or hood.
caul: A skull cap of silk, often worn by maidens.
Caul was also used as a term for a bag-shaped hair net (of gold mesh lined with
silk or made entirely of silk thread or human hair), which held the hair hack
in a coil. This could be worn alone or under a hat.
cloak: Long cloaks were worn by both sexes. From
about 1545, men also wore, indoors and out, a short, full cloak, richly lined,
with a high upstanding collar. The Spanish cloak (1535-1620) was hooded. The
Dutch cloak (1545-1620) had wide, hanging sleeves. The French cloak (1570-1670)
reached the knees and was worn over one shoulder and gathered up over the arm.
coat: A short-sleeved or sleeveless jacket or jerkin
which was worn over the doublet.
court bonnet (1575-1585): A pillbox of velvet trimmed
with jewels and feathers and worn over a caul.
drawers: This male undergarment is mentioned as early
as 1150 but was not universally worn.
falling band or falling collar (1540-1670): Any
turned-down collar, often lace-edged, worn instead of a ruff.
forepart: Any underskirt, usually highly decorated,
revealed through the inverted-V opening in the front of a skirt.
French hood (1530-1630): A small bonnet made on a
stiff frame and worn far back on the head. Folds of material fell below the
shoulders from a short flat panel at the back. Usually dark in color but
decorated with biliments (borders of silk, satin, or velvet trimmed with gold
or jewels), it was worn over a fine linen cap called a crespin or creppin.
gabardine: A long, loose overcoat with hanging
sleeves, worn by both sexes and all classes.
gable headdress (1500-1540): Square, it had two long
back panels and front lappets.
gown: For men this was either a sleeveless mock-coat
or a cloak with ornamental sleeves. In Tudor times gowns were worn primarily by
older men and professionals and on ceremonial occasions. For women the gown was
an overdress worn for added warmth or greater dignity. It could be close-bodied
or loose and have long or short sleeves or sleeves hanging loosely from the
shoulder. Ceremonial gowns might have a train.
head-rail (after 1630): A large square of material
pinned around the back of the head. Less fashionably, a kerchief might be
draped over the head for covering.
hood: The generic term for a head covering. A
countrywoman’s hood around 1520 was of white linen with lappets, which might be
tied over the top of her head.
jerkin or jacket: A sleeveless vest worn over the
doublet. The short jerkin (five to six inches below the waist) came to England
with Philip of Spain in 1554. The jerkin of cloth or leather was worn by
civilians from 1545 to 1575 and again from 1620 to 1630. As military garments
throughout the period, “buff’ jerkins were made of leather.
jump jacket: A Dutch style favored by Puritans of the
1640s, this was worn with matching Dutch breeches, “bucket-top” boots, a square
white linen collar, plain white cuffs, and a wide-brimmed black felt hat.
mandilion: A loose, thigh-length overcoat with a
standing collar and loose sleeves. It was popular from 1520 to 1560 and again
from 1577 to 1620. After 1620 it was called a Manderville and used only in
Mary Stuart hood (1550-1630): Similar to a French
hood but of sheer cloth such as lawn, trimmed with decorative fabric and edged
with lace. The front border had a V- or U-shaped curve above the middle of the
forehead. Widows frequently wore the style in black silk with a falling back
Monmouth cap: A knitted wool cap that fit the head
and had a brim and a long peaked top that hung over one side and ended in a
tassel. These were common from the 1570s to 1625, especially among soldiers and
nightcap: Any casual indoor headgear. It was not worn
nightclothes: Any informal morning or evening attire.
night rail: A garment in which some wealthy women
slept by the mid-sixteenth century. Sleeping in the nude or in a shift, shirt,
or smock was more common.
pipkin (1565-1595): A taffeta hat trimmed with
ostrich feathers and decorated with jewels. It had a moderate crown, a narrow,
fairly flat brim, and was worn over a caul.
rebato (1580-1635): A collar wired to stand up around
a low-necked bodice.
ruff (1550-1630): A circular collar of cambric or
lawn in the form of a starched and crimped or pleated frill, the ruff or
ruff-band came to England from France. From 1562 to 1577, ruffs measured about
three inches wide and two inches deep. They were separate articles of clothing
by 1570. The cartwheel ruff was in fashion from 1580 to 1610 and the fan-shaped
ruff from 1570 to 1625. The latter was made almost entirely of lace. Men’s
ruffs were generally higher in back than in front, following the line of the
jaw to frame the face and set off the shape of the skull. One from 1589
measures nine inches from neck to edge.
sack: A loose dress for country wear.
safeguard (1570-1630): An outer skirt worn for
protection against weather and dirt during travel.
slop-hose: Sailors’ breeches.
slops or galligaskins: Any wide, loose breeches.
tippit: A short shoulder-length cape for women.
trunk hose, round hose, or French hose (1540-1625): A
style of breeches for men who wanted to show off their legs. Trunk hose
consisted of a padded ring, to which long nether-stocks were sewn.
tunic: Belted tunics were worn by the working
Venetians or knee breeches: Any breeches fastened at
the knee and separate from the netherstocks. They might be distended with vertical
rolls of padding down the inside of each side seam. The codpiece was not worn
with Venetians, which buttoned or tied in a concealed front opening.
waistcoat (1485-1525): Optional male undergarment,
usually quilted, to which the breeches were fastened. A woman’s dressing jacket
was also called a waistcoat.
wimple: Cloth covering the head, chin, and shoulders.
In the country a woman might wear a straw hat over a wimple.
FABRICS OF THE RENAISSANCE
Spinning, weaving, and knitting were all practiced in England
by the sixteenth century. An improved type of spinning wheel, the Saxony wheel,
was introduced in the 1530s. Woolen cloth was produced at home but more exotic
fabrics (including cotton) were imported. All those listed here were available
bombazine: Variously described as a plain twilled
fabric made of cotton and wool, as a silk and wool blend, and as a silk and
cotton blend, bombazine was usually black but was available in colors by the
end of the sixteenth century.
borato: A thin, light blend of silk and wool.
buffin: Used in doublets and other garments.
camlet or chamlet: Closely woven fabric of camel’s
hair and silk (or wool or cotton).
damask: Textile woven of silk and linen with light
and shade effects. True damasks were silk but the term came to mean any fabric
with an elaborate design woven into it.
fustian: Cotton and flax or flax mixed with wool,
with a silky finish. Fustian was used as a substitute for velvet.
mocado or mockado or mock velvet: A deep-piled velvet
with better grades made in silk and inferior grades in wool, silk and wool, or
silk and linen.
The word meant any cloth made from the cotton plant. Cotton
was imported as a raw material from Smyrna and Cyprus.
Linen was any cloth made from flax.
beaupers: Linen cloth similar to bunting.
cambric: Fine linen.
canvas: Coarse linen cloth which, early in the
sixteenth century, was imported from France.
dorneck: Linen made in Norfolk and used for servants’
dornicks: A checked table linen. Dornick was the
Flemish name for the city of Tournai and dornicks originally applied to any
fabrics manufactured there.
Holland: Any fine linen.
lawn or cobweb lawn: Any very fine, semitransparent
sammeron: It was “finer than flaxen and coarser than
Produced by silkworms, both silk thread and finished fabric
were imported throughout the period. By 1599, looms were being used to knit
silk stockings, waistcoats, and other garments.
brocade: A rich silk cloth embroidered in gold and
silver. Later, brocade meant any fabric with a raised, figured pattern.
caffa: A rich silk cloth similar to damask.
sarcenet: A fine, soft silk of taffeta weave.
satin: A glossy silk fabric with a smooth surface.
sussapine: A costly silk textile.
taffeta: A rich, thin silk used for doublets.
Woolens are any fabrics made from carded, short-staple
sheep’s wool and fulled (shrunk, then beaten or pressed). The New Draperies
were worsted or semi-worsted fabrics made with combed, long-staple wool and not
fulled. They were introduced to England from the Netherlands by Protestant
refugees in the 1560s and included sackcloth, serge, frizado, bays (or baize)
and says. Later “New Draperies” came to mean any novelty cloth.
broadcloth: A fine woolen cloth of plain weave, two
yards wide, produced in England from the twelfth century on.
cotton cloth: A woolen cloth of which the nap has
been “cottoned” or raised, such as baft and frieze. This was manufactured in
the North, especially around Manchester.
lemister: A fine woolen used for knitting caps.
puke: An imported woolen cloth or any woolen textile
dyed before weaving.
russet: Coarse reddish brown, gray, or neutral color
buckram: A coarse linen or cotton fabric used in hose
calico: A cotton or cotton and linen fabric imported
from the East and therefore costly. Calico later became the generic name for
any cloth imported from the East. It was not the pattern we associate
with the term today.
cloth of gold: Cloth woven with gold wire or flat
strips of gold or both.
crape: A thin transparent silk, or silk and linen,
used in mourning veils.
furs: Amice (gray squirrel), bauson (badger), beaver,
cony (rabbit) ermine, fox, lettice (similar to ermine), lizard (lynx), and
sable were all used in clothing.
kersey: A double-twilled say of wool or of silk and
rash: A twilled textile of silk or wool.
tripe: Imitation velvet made of wool or thread.
velvet: Imported until the late seventeenth century
and made of silk or cotton. Branched velvet was any figured velvet.
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Construction of Clothes for Men and Women c. 1560-1620. Hollywood, CA: QSM,
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