Dress Design: An Account of Costume for Artists and Dressmakers

Sixteenth Century. The Reigns of Edward VI and Mary—Female 124 Sixteenth Century. The Reigns of Edward VI and Mary—Male 129 Sixteenth Century. Elizabeth—Female 133 Sixteenth Century. Elizabeth—Male 139 CHAPTER VI The Character of Trimmings through the Seventeenth Century 142 James I 142 Charles I 143 The Commonwealth 145 Charles II 145 James II and William and Mary 146 Seventeenth Century. James I—Female 147 Seventeenth Century. James I—Male 150 Seventeenth Century. Charles I—Female 154 Seventeenth Century. Charles I—Male 160 Seventeenth Century. The Commonwealth—Male and Female 168 Seventeenth Century. Charles II—Female 169 Seventeenth Century. Charles II—Male 174 Seventeenth Century. James II—Female 178 Seventeenth Century. James II—Male 180 Seventeenth Century. William and Mary—Female 184 Seventeenth Century. William and Mary—Male 186 CHAPTER VII The Character of Decoration and Trimmings of the Eighteenth Century 190 Eighteenth Century. Anne—Female 193 Eighteenth Century. Anne—Male 198 Eighteenth Century. George I—Female 201 Eighteenth Century. George I—Male 207 Eighteenth Century. George II—Female 211 Eighteenth Century. George II—Male 214 Eighteenth Century. George III to 1800—Female 217 Eighteenth Century. George III to 1800—Male 231 CHAPTER VIII Character of Trimmings of the Nineteenth Century 237 Nineteenth Century. George III—Female 241 Nineteenth Century. George III—Male 246 Nineteenth Century. George IV—Female 248 Nineteenth Century. George IV, 1820-30—Male 254 Nineteenth Century. William IV—Female 258 Nineteenth Century. William IV—Male 263 Nineteenth Century. Victoria—Female 264 Nineteenth Century. Victoria—Male 273 Patterns of Various Reigns from Antique Costume 276 Patterns to Scale 283 Patterns to Scale, Detailed List 353 Index 359


  • FRONTISPIECEFacing Title
    • A Long-trained Muslin Dress, about 1800.
  • PLATE IFacing p. 39
    • Boots and Shoes from the Fourteenth to Nineteenth Century.
  • PLATE IIFacing p. 42
    • A. Elizabethan Robe in Plush, 1585-1605.
    • B. Elizabethan Robe in Silk Brocade, 1565-85.
    • C. Elizabethan Male Robe in Velvet Brocade, 1580-1615.
    • D. Back-piece of Elizabethan Doublet in Embroidered Linen, 1580-1605.
  • PLATE IIIFacing p. 55
    • A. Elizabethan Jump (or Jacket), about 1600.
    • B. Portrait of Lady in Embroidered Costume, between 1620 and 1640.
  • PLATE IVFacing p. 58
    • C. Youth's Jacket of Linen embroidered in Worsted, 1635-65.
    • D. Linen Male Jacket embroidered with Gold and Silk, 1600-40.
  • PLATE VFacing p. 71
    • A. Jerkin—Period James I.
    • B. Lady's Bodice of Slashed and Vandyked Satin, 1635-50.
    • C. Jerkin of Embroidered Linen, 1630-60.
    • D. Jerkin of Embroidered Linen, 1580-1635.
  • PLATE VIFacing p. 74
    • A. Collar and Cuffs set with Lace, 1600-30.
    • B. Embroidered Leather Jerkin, 1620-1640.
    • C. Top of Stocking, Embroidered Linen, 1625-50.
  • PLATE VIIFacing p. 87
    • A. Herald's Coat, Embroidered Velvet and Silk, First Half Seventeenth Century.
    • B. Lady's Bodice of Black Velvet, 1630-60.
    • C. Black Silk Jerkin, 1640-50.
  • PLATE VIIIFacing p. 90
    • A., B., C. Three Suits—Period Charles II.
  • PLATE VIIIAFacing p. 103
    • A. Suit of Embroidered Silk, 1610-30.
    • B. Three Sword-hangers Embroidered in Gold, Charles II.
    • C. Braided Suit, 1670-90.
  • PLATE IXFacing p. 106
    • A. Lady's Embroidered Silk Jacket, 1605-20.
    • B. Lady's Bodice of Silk Brocade, 1680-1700.
  • PLATE XFacing p. 119
    • A. Black Velvet Bodice, 1600-25.
    • B. Five Embroidered Waistcoats, between 1690 and 1800.
  • PLATE XIFacing p. 122
    • Sixteen Leather Boots and Shoes, between 1535 and 1850.
  • PLATE XIIFacing p. 135
    • A. Lady's Outdoor Costume, 1785-95.
    • B. Costume, Early Eighteenth Century.
    • C. Silk Brocade Dress, 1760-80.
  • PLATE XIIIFacing p. 138
    • A. Silk Coat, 1735-55.
    • B. Brocade Silk Coat, 1745-60.
    • C. Embroidered Cloth Coat, 1770-90.
  • PLATE XIVFacing p. 151
    • A. Embroidered Silk Dress with Pannier, 1765-80.
    • B. Brocade Dress and Quilted Petticoat, 1750-65.
  • PLATE XVFacing p. 154
    • A. White Cloth Coat, 1775-90.
    • B. Silk Dress, 1740-60.
    • C. Embroidered Velvet Coat, 1753-75.
  • PLATE XVIFacing p. 167
    • A. Silk Brocade Dress, 1740-60.
    • B. Silk Brocade Sack-back Dress, 1755-1775.
    • C. Dress of Striped Material, 1755-85.
  • PLATE XVIIFacing p. 170
    • A. Silk Suit, 1765-80.
    • B. Quilted Dress, 1700-25.
    • C. Silk Embroidered Suit, 1765-80.
  • PLATE XVIIIFacing p. 183
    • A. Brocade Bodice, 1770-85.
    • B. Flowered Silk Dress, 1750-70.
    • C. Silk Brocade Bodice, 1780-95.
  • PLATE XIXFacing p. 186
    • A. Silk Brocade Dress, 1775-85.
    • B. Embroidered Silk Jacket, 1775-90.
    • C. Brocade Jacket, 1780-95.
  • PLATE XXFacing p. 199
    • A. Gold-embroidered Muslin Dress, 1795-1805.
    • B. Nine Aprons, between 1690 and 1750.
    • C. Dress of Spotted Stockinette, 1795-1808.
  • PLATE XXIFacing p. 202
    • Twenty-three Boots and Shoes, from 1800 to 1875.
  • PLATE XXIIFacing p. 215
    • A. Linen Dress, 1795-1808.
    • B. Silk Bodice, 1825-30.
    • C. Silk Bodice, 1818-25.
  • PLATE XXIIIFacing p. 218
    • A. Muslin Dress with Tinsel Design, 1798-1810.
    • B. Silk Dress, Period George IV.
    • C. Satin and Gauze Dress, 1820-30.
  • PLATE XXIVFacing p. 231
    • A. Outdoor Silk Jacket, 1798-1808.
    • B. Embroidered Muslin Bodice, 1816-1830.
    • C. Embroidered Muslin Bodice, 1824-1825.
    • D. Satin and Gauze Bodice, 1820-30.
  • PLATE XXVFacing p. 234
    • A. Silk Dress, 1800-10.
    • B. Cotton Dress, 1800-10.
    • C. Embroidered Muslin Dress, 1820-30.
    • D. Silk Gauze Dress, 1824-30.
  • PLATE XXVIFacing p. 247
    • A. Morning Coat of Chintz, 1825-45.
    • B. Cloth Coat, 1808-20.
    • C. Cloth Overcoat, 1820-35.
  • PLATE XXVIIFacing p. 250
    • Outdoor Silk Dress, 1825-35.
  • PLATE XXVIIIFacing p. 259
    • A. Silk Pelisse, 1820-30.
    • B. Cotton Dress, 1830-40.
    • C. Silk Spencer and Cape, 1818-27.
  • PLATE XXIXFacing p. 263
    • A. Embroidered Silk Gauze Dress, 1820-30.
    • B. Gauze Dress with Appliqued Design, 1825-35.
    • C. Printed Linen Outdoor Dress, 1827-1847.
  • PLATE XXXFacing p. 266
    • A. Printed Silk Bodice, 1840-50.
    • B. Gathered Linen Bodice, 1837-47.
    • C. Silk Bodice and Bertha, 1845-55.
  • PLATE XXXIFacing p. 270
    • A. Embroidered Muslin Outdoor Dress, 1855-65.
    • B. Riding Habit, 1845-75.
    • C. Gauze Ball Dress, 1840-55.
  • PLATE XXXIIFacing p. 279
    • A. Silk Dress, 1860-70.
    • B. Gauze Walking Dress, 1850-60.
    • C. Silk Dress, 1848-58.
  • PLATE XXXIIIFacing p. 282
    • A. Silk Dress with Court Train, 1828-1838.
    • B. Silk Afternoon Dress, 1872-78.
    • C. Silk Coat and Skirt, 1855-56.


Plates originally printed in collotype are now produced in half-tone


The subject of Historical Costume covers such a multitude of detail that a volume on each century could be written, with hundreds of illustrations. Thus it is, most works on costume are expensive and bewildering; but I hope this small practical handbook will be a useful addition to the many beautifully illustrated works which already exist.

I have divided the matter into centuries and reigns, as far as possible, in this small work, besides separating male and female attire, thus simplifying reference. A special feature has also been made, of supplying the maker or designer of dress with actual proportions and patterns, gleaned from antique dresses, as far back as they could be obtained; and I am much indebted to the authorities at the Victoria and Albert Museum for the permission given me to examine and measure their unique specimens; also to Mr. Wade, Mr. G. G. Kilburne, Mr. Duffield, Mr. Box Kingham, Mr. Hill, Mr. Breakespeare, and others, for their valuable assistance with interesting specimens. I have used outline drawings in the text, as being more clear for purposes of explanation. The dates given to the illustrations are to be taken as approximate to the time in which the style was worn. Many of the photographs have been arranged from my own costume collection, which has made so much of my research simple, reliable, and pleasant. I am also happy to state that before the final revision of this book I have heard that my collection of historical costumes and accessories will, after a preliminary exhibition at Messrs. Harrod's, be presented to the Victoria and Albert Museum as a gift to the nation by the Directors of that firm. Thus the actual dresses shown in these plates will find a permanent home in London, and become valuable examples to students of costume. The coiffures in the collotype plates are not to be judged as examples, for it would have consumed far too much time to set up these figures more perfectly, but all the bonnets, caps, and accessories given are genuine examples.

In a book of this size, one cannot go into the designs of materials, &c., which is a study any earnest student would not neglect, but in this connection I would draw attention to the comparative colour density and proportion of designs chosen for various effects.

It has been my endeavour to arrange a greater variety of the forms which make up the characters of each period, and also to give a wider knowledge into the footwear, or details of the footwear, than is usual in most costume books.

In a review of the styles I would not press any choice for building new designs, as I believe in close individual research and selection, which may utilise many interesting features from costume settings even in periods which are almost scorned. I believe the purest beauty is found in the simple forms of dress and decoration settings from the 12th to the 15th centuries, schemed to the natural proportions of the figure. The grace of line and movement is often aided by the short train, which can be so happily caught up in many ways; the slight drag of the train always keeps the front clear in outline, besides showing the movement of the limbs. Length of fall in the material was desired, the figure creating its own folds with every turn, but a belt was often placed rather high under the breast. There is little reason with nature of fine form to make dress into sections by a corset waist. A long, lithe, complete curve in outline—much happier unbroken, except by the girdle—is certainly the most artistically useful conception, not breaking the rhythm (as does the harder belt), while it also induces much beauty in lifting and arranging the drapery. The long falling sleeve also has the same qualities, giving a greater fullness of shape, a variety of colour (by a difference of lining), with a winglike motion, besides softening the angle of the elbow.

I think the next garment for high esteem is the chasuble-shaped tunic (with or without sleeves). Falling cleanly from the shoulders, it stops at a charming length for the skirt to take up the flow of line. The delightful effect of partly-laced or clasped sides was not missed by the ablest designers. How refined, too, was the character of decoration of the old period! The art of concentrating effects is seen to perfection, retaining the breadth of shape and length unbroken. Jewelled embroidery of fine enrichment was wrought on the borders, neck settings, square corners, the girdle, and the clasps. The preciousness of effect was truly appreciated by the enclosing of the face in the purity of white lawn and zephyr-like veilings; the circlet and the long interlaced plaits and charming nettings were all tastefully schemed. Has woman ever looked more supreme through all the centuries of extravagant styles and distortions? I believe not: but I have come to the conclusion that, at whatever period of seeming insanity of style, the woman of fine taste can overcome all obstacles by her individual choice and "set up," and has really always looked fascinating.

There was another form of decoration at this period—the cutting of the edges into a variety of simple or foliated shapes, giving a flutter and enrichment to forms in a simple manner, and this, in conjunction with the increasing richness of materials, was a valuable aid to lighten the effects. It was probably initiated by the heraldic characteristics in vogue.

The pricked and slashed details had much the same result in enriching surfaces.

Later the fan sleeves of the 18th century were enhanced in a similar way by the curved and scalloped shaping, which was used as late as the Victorian sixties with happy effect on the polonaises.

Now, as regards the finest corset dress, the palm must be given to the sack-back dress of the eighteenth century (not in the period of its distortion with hoops), and a full setting showed it to greatest advantage.

This type of design lent itself to more variety in beauty of arrangement than any other; the looping, reefing, and tying always set gracefully in accord with the back fall. The easy exchange of the stomacher also gave additional chance of effect, and the beauty of the fan-shaped sleeve, with its lace falls at the elbow, was a delightful creation. How rich and refined this character could be, without the monstrous forms and head-dresses which later invaded it and turned it into ornate absurdity!

When we examine the period of Charles I, we find much charming dignity in the adaptations of earlier inventions; the collar settings were noble, indeed perfect, in arrangement, and the bodice decoration and proportions most interesting.

For the grace of girlhood no dresses are happier than those of the early 19th century to 1830, and the inventions in trimmings through this period were prolific in beauty and lightness of style.

Analysis of the many fashion-plates and original dresses of this period will well repay all interested in beautiful needlecraft and dress design. The arrangement of frills, insertions, gathered effects, applied forms, and tasselled or buttoned additions, will be found full of beauty and novelty, especially in the dresses of white embroidery. Plates XXIII and XXIV (see pp. 218-231) give some happy examples of this time.

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Plate I.—Boots and Shoes from the 14th to the 19th Centuries.

  1. Charles II.
  2. James II.
  3. William and Mary.
  4. George II.
  5. George III., 1770.
  6. George III., 1760.
  7. George III., 1780-1800.
  8. 1870-1880.
  9. William and Mary.
  10. 1680-1700.
  11. 1680-1702.
  12. 1750-1775.
  13. 1580-1625.
  14. 1710-1730.
  15. Henry VIII.
  16. Semi-Clog, 1780-1800.
  17. Henry VIII.
  18. 1778-1795.
  19. Late 15th Century or early 16th Century.
  20. 1500-1540.
  21. Late 14th Century to middle of 15th Century.
  22. 1530-1555.
  23. 1535-1555.

A word on the most condemned flow of fashion during the Victorian era. There are many dresses of real charm to be found amongst the mass of heavy styles which must not be overlooked in studying design and style. Even the crinoline dress, when treated with the exquisite silk gauzes, as Fig. 3 in Plates XXXI and XXXIII (see pp. 270-282), was as alluring as any woman could wish, and the original design of the jacket in the latter figure, with its richly embroidered, long-skirted front cut short at the back, arranged itself perfectly on this type of undersetting. There was notable refinement of effect and beauty of proportion in many dresses of the sixties, as exemplified in Fig. A, Plate XXXII (see p. 279), the waist being set rather high, and the very full skirt carried back by the crinoline being held thus with its cross ties.



The woman's attire would have been chiefly a shortish skirt or wrap of coarse linen, wool, or leather, gathered in front or folded at one hip; grass cloth may also have been in use in most primitive tribes. Probably the upper part of the body was kept bare, except for many ornaments and necklaces, but a bodice or jacket cut in the same simple form as the male shirt, with a heavy belt or girdle, would have been used, and certainly a large shawl, which could be wrapped over the head and round the figure during inclement hours. Dyed or painted patterns on the cloths might well have been also in use, their chief designs being stripes, circles or dots, zigzag lines, diamonds and plaid squares, rope patterns and plaited patterns. The hair would have been loose, plaited, or coiled on top, held by bone pins or circlets of bronze.


We have little description or illustration to certify the actual dress of the early inhabitants of Britain, but we can draw conclusions with pretty certain assurance, from the knowledge of their mode of living. From their attainments in artistic design and handiwork, it is clear they had arrived at a very high state of savage culture before the Roman invasion; and we have only to study the better types of savage life still in progress, to picture how our own primitive race would be likely to dress under the conditions of climate. The thousands of "finds," which accumulate evidence every year, give us a closer acquaintance with their customs and work. The rest we must imagine from our general knowledge of what they had to contend with in climate, forest, cave, and floods.

These early people, it is presumed from certain discoveries, had long known the art of coarsely weaving flax and wool, which must soon have been in general use, from its being healthier and cleaner than the garments of skin. And very probably a coarse linen, with simple dyes of red, blue, yellow, and brown, was in use here when the Romans came.

The head-dress consisted of a cap of fur or wool, probably decorated with a feather, over loose and most likely very unkempt hair falling to the shoulders. The Gauls cut their locks from the back of the head, often tying up the remainder in a tuft on the top; no doubt the hair was sometimes plaited or pinned up with wood, bone, or bronze ornaments. Bone pins, teeth, and boar tusks were carried in the ears, as well as studs of bone or stone in the underlip, and even the cheek may have been so decorated, as it was amongst the Esquimaux. The face and body were painted with red and white ochre and a blue stain. The neck was adorned with strings of teeth, stones, amber, jet, bronze, and probably beads of glass or baked clay coloured. Amulets and tokens, armlets and bracelets were all in use. Also the torque, a twisted rod of gold flattened or curled together at the ends, was a mark of dignity. A wristlet of wood, bone, or leather was worn when the bow and arrows were used. The arms were a spear of flint or bronze and a dagger of the same, a hatchet or heavy club, a mace studded with flint or bronze spikes, and the sling, which would have necessitated a leather wallet to carry the stones; fish spears and snags. Also the bolas for felling cattle seems to have been known; in fact nearly all the usual implements appertaining to savage life were in use.

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Plate II.

  • (a) Elizabethan Robe in Plush. 1585-1605.
  • (b) Elizabethan Robe in Silk Brocade. 1565-85.
  • (c) Elizabethan Male Robe in Velvet Brocade. 1580-1615.
  • (d) Back-piece of Elizabethan Doublet in Embroidered Linen. 1580-1605.
  • Measures, see p. 281.
  • Sleeve pattern of C, see p. 300.

The first item of male attire was of two skins fastened at the shoulders, and from this we get the early chasuble form (which may be so beautifully treated, even to the present time), girt with a leather thong or strap at the waist. One skin lapped the other, and hardly needed sewing together at the sides, while thus it was easier to throw off; it may also have been tied up between the legs. The fur was worn both inside and out, according to the weather; this large skin wrap would also be worn cross-ways with the right shoulder free, and the simple cloak of various lengths with a hole for the head to pass through was no doubt one of the first discoveries in costume.

A loin cloth or skin may have been worn alone, caught up through the legs and fastened at the back of the waist with a heavy belt and set well down the hips. This would hold a number of personal necessities, in the shape of a wallet and dagger. The legs would be wrapped with skins, tied up or crossed by leather or sinew thongs, or with hemp or grass rope. Skins were probably also used on the feet, gathered and tied above the instep and round the ankle.

The enumeration of these items will give a pretty definite idea of how the early race would appear in their more or less attired form. In fighting, they cleared for action (as it were) and discarded all clothing, their only protection being a shield of wicker or wood covered with leather; it may have been studded with bronze plates or painted with grotesque characters, as were their own bodies, in true savage style, to strike fear into their enemies; it is even possible feather decorations formed part of their "get up."



The female head-dress consisted chiefly of flowing hair banded with a circlet of various shapes, but a development of braiding plaits is found very early, and the hair was probably arranged so before the Roman era. These plaits were generally brought over the shoulder to the front, the hair being parted in the centre, thus making an oval forehead. Various caps began to show originality, and jewels were set in the centre of the forehead on the little crown-like hat, which must have been most becoming. Squares of coloured stuffs were draped over the head and shoulders, sometimes upon white linen squares, and many ladies began to bind the face and head, shutting out the hair, in the 8th century. The kerchief draping is very important to study, because it was the general mode amongst the people.

Heavy collars of ornament and strings of beads, hanging even to the waist, are noticeable features of these centuries, also large ear-rings.

A full cloak, with a large clasp or brooch, opened in front, or was turned to free one shoulder; there was also a long "drape" thrown round over the opposite shoulder or brought picturesquely over the head.

The ecclesiastical form of cloak as described in the male attire was also formed about the 6th century; its graceful line was frequently bordered completely with a band of ornament, and it was clasped just across the breasts.

The complete circular cloak, with a hole for the head, is seen very early, decorated with a pinked edge, which may also be noted on some of the short dresses of the middle classes. Aprons are no doubt of the earliest origin. A loose tunic falling to the hips was girded rather high up the body, as in the classic dress, and bands passing both outside or crossing between the breasts and going over the shoulder came from the same source; these were with, or without, short sleeves to the elbow. A long loose robe was the chief attire to the 6th century, belted rather high in the waist, and caught up with a girdle at the hips; these girdles gave a great interest to the early centuries, with the art of arranging the fullness of skirt into its hold.

Fig. 1.

From the 6th century the dress became closer fitting, and a short bodice is seen; the neck was cut very low, either square or round in shape, and this style had short tight sleeves or tight sleeves to the wrist. The later tunic of the 9th century marked the beginning of the slit-open upper sleeve, and a greater length of the neck opening, which came to be fastened down the front to the waist.

The early skirts (to the 6th century) were hung from the hips, and were often attached to a heavy girdle band, the fullness was gathered mostly at the back and front; other skirts hung from a higher belt and were again caught up in the girdle. A V-shaped neck setting was worn by the Franks, from which probably came the shaped front piece that will interest us in the 13th century. The shoes were similar to the male shapes described later, and the same mode of binding the stockings was sometimes imitated.


In taking the long period from the Roman occupation to the 10th century, we can discover a real development of style in costume, as with the system of vassalage a distinction of class arose. No doubt the Romans introduced a finer tuition of weaving, needlecraft, decoration, and dyeing; and later the various peoples coming from the Continent, when settled under Alfred in the 9th century, produced a solid style of barbaric splendour.

Fig. 2.

Fig. 3.

The male hair dressing, from the rugged mass of hair, soon became well combed and trimmed square across the neck: ear-rings may still have been in use by some nobles till the 11th century, and chaplets were worn upon the hair. The Saxon beard was divided into two points. Small round tight caps of wool, fur, or velvet, and rush or straw hats of a definite shape were in use to the 10th century. Tight caps, with lappets tied under the chin, and hoods appear on the short capes about the 8th century, or probably earlier. The garment was of the simplest form, cut like a plain square loose shirt to the middle of the thigh, and this was put on over the head. The opening to pass the head through was the first part to receive a band of decoration. The sides were sometimes opened to the hips and the front caught between the legs and held at the waist. A garment opened down the front, and another wrapped across to either shoulder is also seen. A belt girt the waist, and the tunic was pulled loosely over it. This also carried the essential requirements in the shape of a pouch, dagger, knife, comb, sword, &c. The neck was ornamented with chains of bronze, gold, beads, and charms, and up to the 8th century a bronze ornamental armlet was worn, besides a wristlet.

The men of the ruling class from the 8th century were clothed in a long garment of simple shape, falling to the ankle, richly bordered at the hem and neck. This generally had long tight sleeves, and often over this a shorter tunic, reaching just below the knee, sometimes sleeveless, or with rather full sleeves tightening to the wrist.

Fig. 4.

A plain square chasuble shape was in fashion from the 8th century, reaching to the bottom of the calf of the leg, and richer materials began to be used; no belt was passed round this, as it was allowed to fall straight.

Loose breeches were worn from very early times, and a loose trouser to the ankle, being tied there or bound crosswise from the boot sometimes right up the thigh. The same binding was done even with the bare legs and later hose: close-fitting short breeches and cloth hose became a feature in the 10th century, and with the latter an ornamental knee-piece or garter below the knee sometimes finished the strappings.

The cloak was the "grand garment," heavily banded with ornament and fastened with a large clasp on one shoulder, or at the centre of the breast. Long circular cloaks of varying lengths, put on over the head, were much favoured, and when caught up at the sides on either shoulder gave a fine draped effect.

Another cloak of ecclesiastical character, sloping in a curve from the neck and not meeting in front, is seen on many notable figures from the early 8th century, large clasps bridging the width low down on the chest.

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Plate III.—(a) Elizabethan Jump (or Jacket). About 1600. (b) Portrait of a Lady in Embroidered Costume. Between 1620 and 1640.

Fig. 5.—Types of Shoes.
British, Roman, Norman to 13th century.

No doubt the sandal of various forms was much used for footwear through this period, also a simple low shoe which was held on by the leg-strappings, as, about the 8th century, shoes are seen with loops at the upper edge, these being attachments for the binding, and this was no doubt a method from the prehistoric times.

There was also a soft boot reaching to the calf, laced up the front; and, after the 8th century, a rather pointed shoe, open down the instep, laced, tied, or gathered into a buckle about the ankle.



The head-dress of women now began to show a preference to confine the hair with nets and to close in the face, which continued till the 15th century. The circlet and long plait or plaits and the flowing hair remained till the 14th century. In the 12th century we discover the hair gathered in nets at either side of the head, covering the ears. A low-crowned hat was bound over with a band of lawn or fine material passing underneath the chin, otherwise the plaits were looped up under a circlet which was also worn with the flowing hair.

A square effect was aimed at in the 13th century with tight side-plaits bound into a shape or netted hair was strapped to the head as in Fig. 11 (see p. 65). A fall of fine material softened the hard effect, and many ladies of quality bound the face, neck, and head in the wimple of fine linen, sometimes gathering this to the same quaint shape of the netted hair. I give a variety of these settings on page 65. A kerchief of linen coming round the neck was brought up tightly round the face and festooned on the top of the head, while another piece was pinned close to the brows and fell loosely to the shoulders, being often held on by a circlet as well.

This character was maintained till the early 14th century, when a style of high peaked hats came into evidence, one shape of which became the most imposing feature of historic costume in the 15th century. It was still but a simple form in the middle of the 14th century, for another shape first gained predominance. Early in this century also may be noted a curious shape like the cap of liberty, usually with a long tail at the back as drawn on page 59. This carried design to the eccentric forms of the pig-tailed hood, and then the rival of the high peaked hat took its place towards the end of the 14th century—a cushioned head-dress, which rose and divided in a hornlike structure. It started as in Fig. 25, and I have illustrated its progress; the veil draping was a great feature, giving plenty of scope for individual fancy. It was, as a rule, richly decorated with gold and jewels, and the hair was completely enclosed in a gold net and a tight-fitting cap to hold this erection. Large drop ear-rings were much worn, and a fine chain of gems encircled the neck or fell to the breast.

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Plate IV.—(c) Youth's Jacket of Linen Embroidered in Worsted. 1635-65. Pattern, see p. 299. (d) Linen Male Jacket Embroidered with Gold and Silk. 1600-40.

Fig. 6.—Tenth to thirteenth century.

Fig. 7.

Fig. 8.—Twelfth to fourteenth century.

In the 10th century a long close-fitting robe was in fashion, sometimes with a deep V-shaped neck opening, though usually the neck was cut to a round form. Some sleeves were tighter with a small cuff, but usually the outer garment had a falling sleeve with a square or round end showing the tight undersleeve. The outer sleeve varied much in length, from the elbow or hand dropping even to the ground; it was narrow and widened through the 14th century, when its edge was cut into various patterns as in Fig. 18 (see p. 79). In the 13th century we notice a long sleeve opened at the elbow for the under sleeve to come through, which beautiful style continued to the middle of the 17th century.

Fig. 9.

Fig. 10.—Fourteenth century, 1st half.

Fig. 11.—Fourteenth century, 2nd half.

With the 10th century came the first corselet from the waist to the hip, clasping a loose tunic with an under-dress taking a long pointed train. The manner of tucking the tunic under the corselet when it was worn over it, and so creating festoons, is worthy of notice as interesting in arrangement and design.

The 13th century parti-coloured and striped dresses foreshadowed the heraldic fashion, which must be studied for its proportion and treatment of decorative colour-values in counterchange to get the true value of its noble effects.

A great feature now appears in the chasuble-shaped front or setting to a closely cut jacket. This ultimately becomes the decorative stomacher through the later periods, and it is very interesting to note its development.

In the 13th century this jacket was a fur construction of a long simple form opened at the sides to the hips for the sleeves to come through; it had a straight hem or was rounded at the front points, and a chasuble form of it was treated as in Fig. 13 or in conjunction with a short cape; it was chiefly a decoration of ermine. It grew into a complete jacket, and in the 14th century it was heavily ornamented with gems; and the simple front, from being a feature outside the jacket, was later often enclosed at the sides. The jacket itself is beautiful in form and proportion, and the curved band of design over the hips makes a nice foil to the curved front. This pattern is plainly derived from the effect of the rich girdle that was at first seen through the side openings and few jackets are without it, the usual shaping of the neck with most of these was square.

Fig. 12.—Nos. 1 to 7, 14th century. Nos. 8 and 9, 15th century.

In the first quarter of the 14th century the setting of the neck was of a round shape, and after 1350 a raised or curved form is favoured. Later still, and with the hornlike head-dress, a very deep V shape, open almost to the belt was the mode, often being filled in with velvet. At the same time some began to take up the fashions of a very high collar and a round-shaped body and sleeves, as in Fig. 24 (see p. 89), with which a wide pointed belt is seen. Some robes were opened in front up to the height of the girdle, though many dresses were worn without girdles after the 12th century. Decorated pockets are sometimes seen in the later period, and an interesting hand-covering or falling cuff came with them.

Fig. 13.—Nos. 1 to 3, 14th century. Nos. 4 to 9, 15th century.

The cloak as described in the 10th century still continued till the 12th, as well as the light wrap which may almost be placed with any period, though mostly a feature of the more classic styles.

Skirts and underskirts were worn with trains. They were mostly banded with wide borders of ornament up to the 13th century, the fullness being often gathered to the back and front.

The chasuble-shaped overdress was worn to the middle of the 14th century, sleeveless, and, laced or sewn tight to the figure from the arm to the hip, or completely down the sides, generally reached just below the knee.

The shoes were of much the same character as those of the male examples illustrated, though they hardly reached the same extravagance in length, owing, no doubt, to the feet of woman being hampered by her skirt; but I suspect they even braved high wooden clogs, as we know they did the tall chopins of the 16th century, to heighten their stature.

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Plate V.

  • (a) Jerkin. Period James I.
  • (b) Lady's Bodice of Slashed and Vandyked Satin. 1635-50. Pattern measurements, see p. 293.
  • (c) Jerkin of Embroidered Linen. 1630-60.
  • (d) Jerkin of Embroidered Linen. 1580-1635.


From the 10th to the 15th century, we find costume developing rapidly into elaborate and interesting designs. Close relations with the Continent brought new ideas, and rich velvets and brocades interwoven with gold enhanced the gorgeousness of attire, while the introduction of heraldic design brought in a very picturesque element. Hats and head-dresses began to become important features, enlarging to eccentric shapes and proportions, only equalled in the extravagant part of the 18th century.

It may be noted that feminine fashion, as it assumes new characters and proportions, affects the style of the male clothes in the same way, as, when a high or pointed head-dress comes in, the male hat also increases its size; the same with curved or angular designs, full or tight sleeves.

The hair was worn long and rather squared in shape at the back till the end of the 15th century. A tendency to shut in the face by close hoods tied under the chin is remarked, and this forms a strong feature of the 13th and 14th centuries. Ear-rings were seldom worn after the 10th century; but the neck was generally adorned with heavy chain decorations.

Beards assumed a pointed shape in accordance with this development of fashion, and double-pointed beards were revived between 1380 and 1386. Hats of straw with mushroom brims and round tops came into vogue in the 11th century, covered with coloured materials and finished with a spike or button at the top, and the crowns of these took a pointed shape in the 14th century. The usual cap with folded brim had a loose crown, and we find this began to lengthen and fall over to one side in the 11th century, and continued to elongate till, in the 15th century, it often dropped to the knee in a long thin point. In the 14th century it took a fullness of loose folds, with serrated or foliated edges falling to the shoulder as in Fig. 15 (see p. 73). A close helmet-shaped cap is seen in the 12th century, with a falling point from the crown, and the 13th century brought in the higher crowned hat, with a long peaked front, turned up at the back. Feathers were worn at the front, back, or side of hats, and sometimes on the front of the hoods; these increased their dimensions in height and peak, till the straight-up high hat, which was often brimless, came in the 15th century. The early hood or cowl soon began to vary its design, for in the 13th century it was often a part of, or attached to, a chasuble shape falling back and front, or with the long front, stopping at a short cape length behind. A note of interest in the 14th century appears, where the forehead part of the hood is turned up, showing a coloured lining, and at times the fashionable serrated edge surrounding the face is seen.

Fig. 14.

Fig. 15.—Fourteenth century.

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Plate VI.

  • (a) Collar and Cuffs set with Lace. 1600-30.
  • (b) Embroidered Leather Jerkin. 1620-40.
  • (c) Top of Stocking. Embroidered Linen. 1625-50.

Fig. 16.—Twelfth to thirteenth century.

The chasuble-shaped garment was a feature often worn over the coat until the end of the 15th century, and was generally worn long with the elongated fashion of the 14th century, and short with the shorter tunics of the 15th century. They are found very wide in the 14th century, and so fall well down over the shoulder, where they are often laced a short distance up, creating an interesting feature. Cloaks were not so much in favour with the heavier cowl and cape, but they were used, fastened by brooches to either shoulder rather at the back, after the 12th century.

Fig. 17.—Fourteenth century.

A very tight-fitting suit called Justacorps came into use from the 12th century, and developed a padded round-shaped body towards the end of the 14th century; the closely-cut body was buttoned up to the throat, or was set with a high collar for the first time. The tights came over it, sometimes rather high up the waist, being laced to it. A long tunic was chiefly favoured during the 10th and 11th centuries with short or long cuffless sleeves, and a full bell-shaped falling sleeve showed a close-fitting under one.

These tunics were chiefly open at the neck as in the earlier times, though a slight difference to be noted is a V-shaped opening in the 14th century, which is developed in the 15th century; they were also split up the sides, even to the hips. Some were very full in shape, and were gathered to either side as in the illustration; others had the body closely fitted and full only in the skirt, but as a rule one finds this latter shape only reaches just below the knee. They were often tucked into the belt in front, showing a rich underskirt.

A girdle (besides a belt) was worn on the hips with the longer tunics, as in Fig. 28 (see p. 94), the dagger and pouch being carried in front on the girdle, and not the belt. A small dagger was often slung at the back or front of the neck, as an ornament at the end of the 14th century.

Fig. 18.—Fourteenth century.

Tights to the waist were worn with both long and short tunics, and retained the crossed binding up the legs to the 13th century, in the various designs of page 53. Parti-coloured tights came in with the 14th century, carrying out the heraldic character of dress, and this may be found till about 1530. A sandal shoe was much worn up to the 12th century, with strappings to various heights up the leg, this even over the short top-boots, but the usual shoe opened down the front of the instep to the toe, which was rather pointed in shape, and it was curved or square at the ankle. The illustration gives a good variety of the prevalent forms. The stocking-boot is also another characteristic of this earlier time, as well as the commoners' woollen gaiters, worn as in Fig. 30, on the seated figure, which were in use to the middle of the 16th century.

Fig. 19.—Twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

In the illustrations which show no shoe on the tights, it will be understood that a sole of leather was sewn on to the under part of the foot. This practice is even seen to-day on the Continent, where the clog is mostly in use. A soft boot, reaching to the calf, was worn till the 15th century, with the top folded or trimmed with fur, the latter being generally laced down the front, even to the instep: the shape of these only varied in the length of the pointed toes as the style developed.

The long-pointed shoes began to increase all through the 13th century, and in the 14th century they reached their greatest length, when the points were often tied up to a garter just below the knee. Wooden clogs were much used, and were often considerably raised. Iron circular supports were also in use at the end of this time; these were the foretaste of the eccentric chopins of the 16th century, which were more favoured on the Continent than here. The pointed toes also were made to curl outwards, giving a splay-footed effect, late in the 14th century.

Fig. 20.—Fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.



We have now arrived at the height of eccentric fashion in mediļæ½val head-dress. The hornlike creations, studded with jewels, and peaks of wondrous height, both draped with fine muslins and often completely shutting away the hair from sight, had a supporting cap which mostly came over ears and cheeks, and a clutch is seen on the forehead, at times concealed by a jewel. The hair was generally allowed to fall loose under the back drape, or a long plait is sometimes seen at the back with the first-named head-dress. The back drape setting from the brow down the back was well conceived to balance the high spire, but it seems to have been discarded during the reign of Edward V, and light veil falls were worn which often came half over the face. In Henry VII's time the extreme fashion came in the shape of a closely-fitting curved cap, with a fall of material over the back. The ermine-trimmed jacket was still in favour to the middle of the last-named reign, when it was worn low down over the hips.

Fig. 21.—Fifteenth century, 1st half.

Fig. 22.—Middle of fifteenth century to sixteenth century.

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Plate VII.

  • (a) Herald's Coat. Embroidered Velvet and Silk. 1st half 17th Century. Measured pattern, page 301.
  • (b) Lady's Bodice of Black Velvet. 1630-60. Measurement, see p. 297.
  • (c) Black Silk Jerkin. 1640-60.

Fig. 23.—Fifteenth century, 1st half.

The chief dress of this period had a V-shaped collar-front meeting at the waist, mostly made in black material or fur. It was wide on the shoulder, and seems to have been stiffened to set out; the V shape was generally filled in with velvet, and a very wide band encircled the waist; a girdle is occasionally noted. The keys' pocket and other requisites were generally carried on the underskirt during these times. The skirt was full and gathered to the back in a train, the gathers often running into the bodice; a very wide border is prevalent, even to the middle of the thigh. Tight sleeves are usual, and hanging sleeves were worn, mostly set in a very short sleeve, which assume a puff-shape in Henry VII's reign; long cuffs, almost covering the hand, are seen on many sleeves.

Fig. 24.—Fifteenth century, 2nd half.

Fig. 25.—Fifteenth century, 2nd half.

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Plate VIII.—(a) (b) (c) Three Suits. Period Charles II.

Fig. 26.—End of fifteenth century.

Modes of opening the skirt up to the hips occasionally showed themselves, and even the sides to the hips are seen laced. In the earlier dress, about 1485, the neck setting of dress became very square, and was filled with fine-drawn lawn. The square shape rises in a curved centre before the end of this period, and a close-fitting robe was worn with a girdle, often opened up the sides. The short upper sleeve and full outer sleeve so much in vogue gave place to a divided upper and lower sleeve, laced or tied with ribbon, with puffs of lawn pulled through the openings at shoulder and elbow, and down the back of the forearm. Slashes are now seen in most sleeves, and an Italianesque character pervaded the fashion.

High, soft boots and shoes of a similar shape to the male description were worn, and changed when the square-toe shoes came in.

Through this period there are many interesting details of costume to study, while gilt tags, finishing laces, and ribbons are to be remarked from this period.


Fig. 27.—Fifteenth century.

Fig. 28.—Fifteenth century, 1st half.

Fig. 29.—Middle of fifteenth century.

The chief shapes to mark in this century in male head-dress is the increased height of the tall hats which rise to vie with the female fashions. We still see a round hat with a rolled edge and long fall over one side, besides shorter folds in the crown, both scalloped or foliated at the edge, and this shape may be noted till about 1460. Some of these hats were made without a crown, as in Fig. 28 (see p. 94); the roll was decorated, as a rule, with jewelled studs. A top hat, something like our present shape, appears, but more belled at the top and also a padded, rolled brim. It was made in various rich materials, and often decorated with jewels. The peak-fronted hat still continued to be favoured till about 1480, its chief difference being a crown more eccentric in height. Tall cylinder hats, with folded brims or no brim, and other shapes are illustrated. The variety is so great through this period that it is well to study the vagaries of fashion which I have illustrated in sequence as far as possible; they were mostly used till about the last quarter of this century, when the low-crowned flat hat with turned-up brim began to secure the fashion. This was generally worn tilted on one side and often over a scarlet skull-cap. A large bunch of plumes came in with this hat, set up from the front, curving backwards, and giving a very grand effect: with most of the tall hats the feather was set at the back.

Fig. 30.—Fifteenth century.

Fig. 31.—Fifteenth century, 1st half.

Fig. 32.—Fifteenth century, 2nd half.

The notable change in the tunic, which was worn both very short and to the ground, was the arrangement of folds to the back and front, gathered to a V shape at the waist. The hanging sleeve began to go out of favour after the middle of the century, but the sleeve or cuff covering the hand was continued till the end of this century.

A sleeve, full at the shoulder, is found, and short, round, padded sleeves came in, worn over a close-fitting sleeve. This short sleeve became raised on the shoulder, and was cut or looped up the outer side: a long loose outer sleeve is also seen in conjunction with these short ones. A very short jacket is notable, of a plain square shape, with a plain sleeve on the left arm and a hanging sleeve on the right to the knee. The tight-fitting jerkin, laced down the front, was worn with this as with most other coats.

Fig. 33.—End of fifteenth century.

Fig. 34.—Fifteenth century, 2nd half.

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Plate VIIIa—(a) Suit of Embroidered Silk. 1610-30. (b) Three Sword Hangers Embroidered in Gold. Charles II. (c) Braided Suit. 1670-90.

Fig. 35.—Fifteenth-century Shoes and Clogs.

The high collar to the throat had gone out for a collar opened in front. Very short and very long "chasubles" were worn with or without sleeves which were gathered high and full at the shoulders. The sleeves were now sometimes slit open at the back and held with several ties, as linen sleeves are now shown with these.

Parti-coloured tights were not so much favoured through this period, but a decorated thigh, or part of the thigh and knee, was a favourite method of enrichment.

Fig. 36.

A long coat came in at the later part of this time, with a deep V-shaped collar meeting at the waist; it was also cut into a square shape at the shoulders, as in Fig. 43 (see p. 119). A loose bell-shaped sleeve usually went with this, often opened in the front of the upper arm. A short square cape is at times seen in conjunction with this. A low square or round neck shape came in during the last quarter of this century, filled in with a fine gathered lawn and a tight-fitting coat with a pleated skirt and full padded sleeves, or a tight sleeve with a full puff or spherical upper part.

Fig. 37.
Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, second half of 15th century.
Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, variety of shapes from 1490 to 1630.

Fig. 38.

  1. 14th century.
  2. 15th century.
  3. 15th century.
  4. Late 16th cent.
  5. 1580-1610.
  6. 1580-1610.
  7. 1605-1640.
  8. 1600-1625.
  9. 1550-1600.
  10. 1610-1640.
  11. 1590-1620.
  12. 1605-1630.
  13. 1675-1695.
  14. 1670-1690.
  15. 1680-1700.
  16. 1690-1720.
  17. 1680-1700.
  18. 1700-1750.
  19. 1700-1780.
  20. 1700-1760.
  21. 1740-1780.
  22. 1745-1780.
  23. 1770-1800.
  24. 1730-1760.
  25. 1700-1780.
  26. 1830-1860.
  27. 1780-1800.
  28. 1840-1870.
  29. 1840-1870.

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Plate IX.—(a) Lady's Embroidered Silk Jacket. 1605-30. (b) Lady's Bodice of Silk Brocade. 1680-1700.

Fig. 39.—Decorated Leather, 15th and 16th centuries.

Shoes and boots were still worn with very long pointed toes till about 1465, when a proclamation was issued for beaks or piked shoes not to pass two inches, and after this time a broad round-toed shoe began to appear. Soft high boots to the top of the thigh, with folded top, belong to this century, as well as the fashionable boot to the calf. The sword or dagger was carried towards the front or side, and a small dagger across the belt at the back. The pouch or purse was also used as a dagger support.



Before the 16th century we find the art of decoration in costume had been confined chiefly to applied ornamental bands at the neck, waist, and borders of skirt and cloak. They had up till this time utilised, with great artistry of design (no doubt partly due to the heraldic study), the patterns of the finely decorated damasks and velvets. The counter colour effects and relative proportions, such as a small-patterned, dull-coloured silk setting off a large full-coloured design was ably considered, as well as the introduction of a nicely-balanced black note or setting, which proved these designers were highly skilled in judgment of style. They also discovered the art of giving enrichment and lightness to the effect by means of the various serrated edgings to the materials, which also gave a flutter to the movement. A preference of lacing for fastening added to the charm of the dress, but the long rows of close buttons were also a feature of the clinging robes, the clasps and brooches, neck-chains, girdle, belt, and wallet being further very important items of enrichment to the effect.

On coming to the 16th century we enter what may be termed the slashed and puffed period. The sleeves of Henry VIII's reign are very rich in design and jewel-setting, the design of the sleeve as in Fig. 40 giving a striking effect, the angle of the top sleeve being held out by the stiffness of the under silk one. The neck-setting and festooning of the jewel-chains play an important part in the design on the plain velvet corset bodices. The head-dress is one of the most remarkable, and gave a great chance for individual arrangement in binding the back fall to set at various angles on the shaped cap piece, combining severity with a big loose draping which is extremely picturesque. With Edward VI commences what may be termed the braided period of decoration. This latter came suitably with the stiffer corsage and set up. Mary's reign was not of attractive severity, but the over-robe with the short circular sleeve at the shoulder and high collar was a graceful creation, and was retained by many as late as 1630. There was little to admire in the Elizabethan age as regards design, except the beauty of the materials and the exquisite needlework. The proportions of the dresses were exceedingly ugly, and the pleated farthingale an absurdity. The male dress had much interest and often beauty of setting and decorative effect. The slashed materials gave a broken quality to what would otherwise be a hard effect, and it also cleverly introduced another colour change through the suit. There will be found many examples in these illustrations of the pricked and punctured designs on leather-work which are worth examining for modern treatment.

Quilting and pleating were ably combined with the braiding, and we see the clever adaptation of straw patterns sewn on (a feature of the late 16th century), which harmonised with the gold braidings or gold lace, or resembled the same effect.

The trimmings of braid were often enriched with precious or ornamental stones and pearls, the stomacher, waist, front band down the skirt, and borders of most garments. The points of slashes were often held by jewelled settings, and the long slashes were caught here and there with the same.

Another important item was the black stitchwork on linen, sometimes mingled with gold, so highly prized now for its beauty of design and effect, but beginning probably in the reign of Henry VII.

Short coats of this type of the Elizabethan age are marvels of skill, and many caps are still in existence. Fine linen ruffs and collars were often edged with this work, as well as with gold lace.

Jackets and caps, both male and female, bearing geometrical and scroll designs in gold, filled in with coloured needlework of flowers, birds, or animals have happily been preserved for our admiration.

Sequins appear on work from Henry VIII's time, and were much appreciated by the Elizabethan workers, who no doubt found the trembling glitter added much to the gold-lace settings and delicate veilings: long pear-shaped sequins were favoured for this. Sleeves were often separate, and could be changed at will.


The hair at this period was parted in the centre and gathered into a plait at the back; it was also seen rather full and waved at the sides of the head, and a small circlet was often carried across the brow. A cap of velvet or gold brocade, sometimes with a padded front, curved over the ears to the neck, keeping the shape of the head. Over this again a velvet fall was turned back from the front or shaped as in the illustration, reaching to the shoulder. These falls were also bound into set-out shapes, which gave many picturesque effects.

Dress had now taken a new phase, and the set bodice became a lasting feature. At this period the waist was rather short, and the neck, arranged in a low square or round form, generally filled in with gathered lawn. The upper part of the sleeve was often divided from the bodice by ties with lawn puffs, and was made in a full circular form, slashed or puffed and banded, with a tight-fitting sleeve on the forearm. Another type divided the upper and lower part of the arm at the shoulder and elbow, the forearm being effectively tied or laced, and the under lawn sleeve pulled through; small slashings are also seen on these. At times a bell-shaped sleeve was worn, showing a slashed or puffed under one. Many dresses were still cut in one, and were often high-necked; with these usually a girdle or band of drapery was worn, and some skirts opened up the front, showing a rich underskirt.

Fig. 40.—Sixteenth century, 2nd quarter.

Fig. 41.—Period Henry VIII.

Full skirts, heavily pleated at the waist, were worn in the earlier part of this reign, banded in varying widths of designs to about the knee; but a new development was in progress—a stiff, bell-shaped dress, set on hoops over a rich underskirt which usually bore a jewelled band down the centre, the upper one being divided in front to display this feature. The bodice with this type becomes longer in the waist, and was made on a stiff corset. Gloves are occasionally seen, serrated at the cuff-end. Shoes of the slashed character and square toes were also worn by the ladies, but many preferred a shoe with a moderately rounded toe.

The first mention of a leather umbrella is 1611, but this is a rare instance, as they were not in use till the 18th century here, though they are noted in continental prints during the 17th century.

Fig. 42.—Sixteenth-century modes, 1st half Henry VIII.


The modes at the end of the last century now developed into a heavier character of design. The long hair soon began to be closely cut, and a short beard came into fashion. A flat type of hat was worn, with serrated brim, or tabs which could be turned down at times, and others were kept in place by a lacing cord through holes. There was also a flat "Tam o' Shanter" shape, generally worn well tilted on one side, and amongst the upper classes mostly adorned with feathers.

The V-shaped collar, or opening to the belt, was still retained on the jerkin, and plain or pleated skirts are seen, also a square close-fitting vest, with a low square neck, filled with gathered lawn, or one with a high neck and short collar, on which a very small ruff appeared for the first time, and at the wrist as well. These were now decorated with long slashes or gathered puffs: heraldic design was still seen on the breast, and even parti-colour was worn, but this character was now treated more by decorating with coloured bands on the tunics or tights.

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Plate X.

  • (a) Black Velvet Bodice. 1600-25. Pattern, see p. 292.
  • (b) Five Embroidered Waistcoats. Between 1690 and 1800.

Fig. 43.—Period Henry VIII.

Fig. 44.—Cap shapes. Period Henry VIII.

Fig. 45.—Variety of shapes and slashing. Henry VIII.

Long coats were still worn of the shape described at the end of the 15th century, but a short surcoat was the mode, reaching just below the knee, sleeveless, or with the various hanging sleeves of this period, the fronts usually turned back to form a wide collar, either round or square in shape on the shoulder, or at times falling to a deep square at the back.

The sleeves were full in the upper part, tightening to the wrist, sometimes open up to the elbow and laced, or they were pleated into a full round shape at the shoulder. Puffs and slashings increased in these designs, and by 1520 we find the sleeves mostly divided into puffed and slashed forms, which grew to fantastic proportions.

Very short, tight breeches or trunks, with a front flap or codpiece, were decorated to match the body design and colour schemes; they increased in length to the knee, or just below, during this reign, and usually finished in a serrated roll.

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Plate XI.—16 Leather Boots and Shoes. Between 1535 and 1860.

  1. 1740-1780.
  2. 1535-1550.
  3. 1680-1700.
  4. 1645-1690.
  5. 1665-1685.
  6. 1690-1710.
  7. 1845-1860.
  8. 1790-1820.
  9. 1665-1670.
  10. 1800-1820.
  11. 1820-1840.
  12. 1820-1840.
  13. 1815-1850.
  14. 1760-1780.
  15. 1650-1670.
  16. 1630-1660.

Fig. 46.—Footwear, 1510-1540.

Shoes were of the square form, some very short in front, held on by a strap across the instep, others with fronts to the instep. The corners were often brought out to a point on each side of the toes, and the mode of decorating with slashing and punctures made them very interesting. The sides of these shoes are very low, from ¾ to 1 inch, and no heels are seen. A big, round shape was also favoured, which increased in width till a proclamation forbade it exceeding 6 inches. Chains were still a decorative feature round the neck, and the belt carried a sword and pouch, or, amongst the working classes, other necessities.


In the reign of Edward VI, which was so short, as also in that of Mary, there was little time to form a real character. These reigns form developing links to the Elizabethan era, so I have taken them in one chapter.

Fig. 47.

Fig. 48.

Fig. 49.

Elizabethan modes.

Fig. 50.—Costumes, 1554-1568.

Fig. 51.—Costumes, 1568-1610.

With Edward VI the same shaped cap is seen as that of Henry VIII, and with Mary's accession, the head-dress is curved to the head in a like manner, but it now became more of a hat form and took a brim curved in on the brow; this was often worn over the little tight curved cap, or showed the hair waved out at the sides, often netted with gold and pearls. A fall of velvet, silk, or veiling was still retained till the very high ruff or collar came in the Elizabethan days. A small-crowned hat, with a brooch and feather in front, and a full gathered crown came in before Elizabeth's time, when we see many eccentric shapes, such as the tall hat with a feather at the side, and the witch-like hats towards the end of her reign.

The bodice, which became longer in the first reign, still retained the full belled oversleeve or the full puffed sleeve to the end of Mary's reign, also the same square neck shape with curved-up front, now often filled with silk quilted with pearls up to the neck. High-necked dresses set with a small ruff became general in Mary's reign. We also find a tight sleeve gathered in a circular puff at the shoulder or set in a rolled epaulet.

The same shaped skirt of the hooped bell form (sometimes very pleated in Mary's reign) or divided in front to show the underskirt as described under Henry VIII, was worn.

The short square shape and the heavy round shoe is seen in Mary's reign, but fashion then preferred a rather pointed oval shoe, well up the instep with higher sides, decorated with characteristic slashing. Gloves are seen in many portraits up to this period, but of a plain make minus embroidery, and a circular fan of feathers was carried.


With Edward VI and Mary a more refined and sober type of style set in. The hair was now worn short and combed backwards. The flat hat of the earlier shapes lasted to Elizabeth's reign; becoming smaller in width, with a turned-down, curved brim and a fuller crown encircled with a gold band or set with a feather worn at the right-hand side. A small tight-fitting round hat with a rolled brim and a feather in front is also of this later mode. Through these reigns a small square turned-over collar or a very small ruff set on a high collar came into use, which increased to a larger ruff in Mary's reign. A small ruff was also worn at the wrist, many of these were edged with black-stitch designs. The heavy puffed sleeves became tight and started from a small epaulet or puffed roll; some of these had a small cuff at the wrist or a frill. Braided designs became very elaborate on a close-fitting, padded, and round-shaped jerkin with a short skirt, which appeared in the first reign, and this skirt was often long enough to fasten just under the codpiece. Short trunks at times worn half-way down the thigh were slashed, banded, and puffed for decoration. No parti-colour was now worn or striped effects on tights, except amongst the soldiers in the reign of Mary. Short capes to the length of the trunks of a plain round form sloping from the shoulders, or a square type with a high square collar and loose sleeves, are seen; a tunic also of the earlier character with a V-shaped collar and full sleeve comes into this reign, and we note the earlier types of shoes mingling with the newer pointed oval-shaped shoe which now continued for the remainder of this century.

Fig. 52.—Costumes, 1554-1580.

Fig. 53.—Costumes, 1570-1605.

In Mary's reign the round-shaped doublet began to protrude from the breast to the waist in a round form with slightly longer skirts or small tabs, while the trunks assumed large circular proportions and were sometimes set on tight knee-breeches. The capes remained about the same.


The costly splendour of attire is well known in Elizabeth's reign, which began with the same form of hair and head-dress as with Mary, the hat being set rather higher on the hair. The ruffs, which were imported already starched from Holland, assumed larger proportions and complications when the methods of starching became known in England about 1564. Stow describes ruffs growing to a quarter of a yard deep; these were no doubt supported by piccalilloes, though they are not actually mentioned till after 1600, but they surely came with the fan-shaped structures of these later days. White, red, blue or purple colours were used in the starching, and yellow in the latter days of this century. The introduction of this curved fanlike collar setting became a grand and complicated feature right into the 17th century. "Make up" became very apparent on the faces at this time, for Bishop Hall censured the fashion in a choice sermon, saying, "Hear this, ye plaster-faced Jezabels! God will one day wash them with fire and brimstone."

Fig. 54.—Elizabethan modes.

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Plate XII.

  • (a) Lady's Outdoor Costume. 1785-95.
  • (b) Costume. Early 18th Century.
  • (c) Silk Brocade Dress. 1760-80.

Fig. 55.

The bodices grew very long and pointed in the waist, the neck setting being mostly treated in the same V shape, even open down to the waist point was filled with a decorated stomacher, and a deep oval-shaped neck was seen at the end of the reign. An outer opened sleeve was now favoured, caught in front at the elbow and hanging to the knee over a fairly tight undersleeve with a turned-back lace cuff or ruffle. With this came the high-set fan ruff on its wooden support at the back of the neck, and consequently a higher coiffure.

Fig. 56.
Nos. 1, 2, 3, 1540-50, and other shoe forms worn in the reign of Elizabeth.

The same character of skirt continued as in the earlier reigns on hoops at the lower part, but they became much fuller and rounder at the hips till about 1590, when the full pleated skirt was supported on a farthingale or hoop which was set with a gathered circle in the same goffered design as the ruffs at the edge. These reached their extreme dimensions at the end of this reign, when the sleeves also assumed a full padded shape and large epaulets also came in. An overdress with a full pleated back (like the Watteau dress) was in fashion from the middle of this reign, and we are lucky to possess some specimens in the Victoria and Albert Museum of which I am able to give the dimensions. Small looking-glasses were carried, and were also inset on the round feather fans. Perfumed gloves, elaborately embroidered, were introduced during this reign. Silk stockings were worn by Elizabeth for the first time in 1560, and worsted stockings were made in England in 1564. Corsets of pierced steel are seen in France from the late 16th and 17th century, and may have been in use here, though wood, cane, and whalebone were the chief supports. Shoes became narrow and even pointed, while the heel began to increase to considerable heights. The buskins of Queen Elizabeth now at Oxford are raised to 3 inches in height by the aid of a thick sole, and shoes A and B, Fig. 61, are also reported to have belonged to her. Chopins for heightening the stature were in use on the Continent, but I believe did not appear here; but very thick corked soles and high heels were introduced for this purpose.

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Plate XIII.

  • (a) Silk Coat. 1735-55.
  • (b) Brocade Silk Coat. 1745-60. Pattern, see p. 308.
  • (c) Embroidered Cloth Coat. 1770-90.


In this reign a very neat small-pointed beard was the fashion, the hair being brushed up as high as possible and often fulled out at the sides, and a "chic" appearance was sought after. A stiff belled top-hat with an egret at the right side made its first appearance with a curved brim, also one of a tapered shape with a smallish round brim, and another very small round hat with a curved brim, a clasp and feather being mostly worn on the front of each. The brims of all the hats began to enlarge at the end of the century when the very high crowned wide brimmed hat made its appearance, sometimes with a peaked top, and beaver is first mentioned in their make.

Large circular ruffs became all the rage besides the small turned-over collar. The round doublet with protruding front became tighter at the waist, the protuberance taking a punchlike pointed form curving to almost between the legs and sloping sharply up the hips to the back. This was set with a very short tab or tabs on padded breeches tightening to the knee, which usually had very small trunks on the upper part, and large, stuffed trunk hose also appeared. The stockings were brought over these in a roll above the knee. Up to this time tights were made of wool, worsted, fine cloth, frieze, and canvas. The slashings, pleating, and gatherings of the period were of a much neater character, and punched patterns and pricked materials came into use.

Close-fitting high boots, generally with serrated tops and thick soles curving into a short heel, are features of this time. The shoe had a long front decorated with slashings (often caught with jewels), and an oval toe which became almost pointed in the last years of this century. A short top-boot rising to the calf was also in use, mostly with a little fur edge at the top, and these were often pricked with patterns.

Fig. 57.—Elizabethan modes.

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