ELIZABETHAN. 1560 to 1620.
The Elizabethan era is probably regarded by many as the most dramatic and colorful period in the history of western dress. It was a novel, intricate, and dainty period that had the good fortune to produce William Shakespeare, who is responsible for its being the most familiar period in costume.
The figures in the plate are typical and splendid examples of that quality mentioned in the first paragraph. The distinction between masculine and
feminine garments was not strongly marked by a difference in severity. The men, as we can see, quite rivaled the women in that quality which we today would term effeminacy.
The man shown here wears a soft gathered bonnet and plume. His mustache and beard are cut in such manner as to emphasize the drawn-to-a-point ideal of the period. The ruff around his neck is of rather less than average proportion. It was made of starched linen, crinkled in the manner shown in the plate. The short cape was almost always a part of the gentleman’s ensemble.
The doublet has built-in sleeves. It buttons down the front. There is much about the looseness of the fit that would seem to indicate Italian derivation. The Spanish ideal was somewhat tighter and more pointed.
The puffy, bombastic hip and leg coverings are termed pumpkin hose. The decoration on the stuffed upper portion of these hose is what is called paning. It consisted of merely sewing on strips of material of a contrasting color to give almost the same effect as slashing. The fastenings to be seen at the knee are cross gartering. They were a simple, practical, and yet ornamental way of keeping the Lower hose in position. A single sash of ribbon was placed below the kneecap, crossed behind at the bend of the leg, and brought up again over the patella, to be tied at the side.
The shoes in the picture are probably of leather, although they could just as well be of velvet. They employ the rosette decoration so popular as a shoe ornament, and probably indicate that these models were modestly heeled.
The woman is almost the same as the figure in Plate 39. Her hair treatment is a form of pompadour. The strand of precious stones, with earrings to match, is typically Elizabethan. Of more than passing interest is the wired lace standing band sometimes known as a whisk. Paning has been employed on the puff shoulders. Ribbon looping is used at the bicep and elbow and was to become a very popular form of trimming in the Charles II period. The usual linen wrist ruff appears at tho cuffs. Judging from the tilt of the waistline, it seems highly probable that a farthingale, as well as numerous petticoats, was worn beneath the skirt. The usual pomander hangs down in front of the exposed decorative petticoat. This ornament was actually a perfume dispenser. When one considers the quality and heaviness of Elizabethan clothes, he can realize the value of its service.
Source: Museum Extension Project. History of Costume.