Court Dress, 1611-1617


History of Costume III 1500-1660

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Man began to look a great deal less fantastic and more comfortable in his dress. The doublet followed the line of the figure reinforced to keep the material smooth, but no padding, and the piccadils became wide overlapping tabs. Sleeves were a normal size emerging from handsome wide shoulders. Flattering as ruffs were, the fine collars that succeeded were equally becoming and more business-like. Wide, turned-back cuffs now matched the collars. Lengthened hair and a single, coy earring seen in portraits were the result of romanticism. Even the wicked old sea pirates, Dutch or English, fancied themselves dangling a large earring. Wide puffed upper-stocks became baggy breeches, worn alone, and the canions developed after 1605 into loose, plain knee-breeches as here on young Louis XIII. Soldiers and sailors had worn these garments for years. Clothes became deflated and fit more closely to the figure, so the silhouette narrowed and lengthened, hat crowns heightened the narrow line. The Netherlands were responsible for many of these details: tall crowned hats with curly brims became the symbol of puritanism; the easy breeches her seafarers had worn for decades and standing collars reinforced by starch first used in the Low Countries. Colours changed from spring-like pinks, whites and yellows of Elizabeth’s day and become richer in deeper reds and blues, dyes now coming from afar. Women’s clothes remained masculine in style before she again lost her independence in a male-dominated age. Anne, Queen of England, was an equestrian with a love of outdoor sports. By 1617 she had used up most of Elizabeth’s left-overs, so her hunting dress was modern, showing all the important details of transitional fashion that became the style for years ahead. The skirt lost the stiff frame, or large circular bolsters, and flowed over small pads in graceful folds to the ground. Skittish short skirts went out with the farthingale. The bodice became naturally fitting with no long, stiff, stomacher front, and its most characteristic feature was the low dipping, cut-out neckline. This was filled with a fine gauze partlet which finished in a spreading whisk, obviously supported at the back but buttoned easily under the chin. From now on, bodices would rarely fasten to the neck. Shoulders were still squared, with tabs or piccadils, but the sleeves became wider and looser with the slit that remained the fashion till half way through the century. Wide cuffs, matching the lace collar, made the sleeves appear shorter. With more linen showing and greater ease in attiring, shirts and chemises and, indeed, all underwear became more important and thus cleaner. The masculine, feather-trimmed hat was a handsome finish to this sporting costume but it was a fashion that had been worn with ordinary dresses in the Low Countries for some years.

Additional information

Dimensions 38.1 × 25.5 cm