part is all about the clothing of the rich, and about the gentlemen
at that. There was a decisive fashion change taking place between 1660
and 1670, the most remarkable feature being a complete change of silhouette
from the 'triangular' man with circular cloak, short doublet and wide
petticoat breeches, towards the long, tailored coat which will soon develop
towards the flaring, waisted coat that is so very well known and stands
for the whole of the Baroque period.
1660 sees the petticoat breeches
or open kneed breeches with ribbon bows. Nevinson, for example, describes
the pantaloon breeches worn by Edmund Verney at Charles IIs coronation
(see the chapter on ceremonial
& vocational clothing) as opening to a circumference of 1.37 metres
(4ft 6in) at each knee and being trimmed with 228 metres (250 yards) of
Samuel Pepys Diary, 1661
April 6. Among other things met with Mr. Townsend, who told me of
his mistake the other day, to put both his legs through one of his knees
of his breeches, and went so all day.
Short doublets were
worn with those breeches, often worn in a style similar to modern day
short matador bolero jacket with a longer, loose and wide coat over the
top. This coat had derived from the cassock, which was a garment that
could be turned into a cloak by buttoning the sleeves to the side seams
of the body.
The change started
towards the end of the 1660s, in 1666 to be precise, and Samuel Pepys
(1633-1703), as well as his close friend in later years and fellow diarist
John Evelyn (1620-1706) even marks down the exact date when Charles II
decided to go away from the French fashion towards what Evelyn calls the
new 'Persian' mode. What now are either the French fashion or the newfangled
'Persian' mode? Furthermore, is the new one, truly that new? It would
be a surprise if there were no continuation of existing fashions whatsoever,
and indeed, as pictorial evidence and surviving garments will show, a
longer, loose coat appears much earlier, even as early as the 1630s, when
it comes along as a cassock. So what is this particular new fashion? It
seems to be a change in combination, because 1666 sees the foundation
of modern man's 'uniform': the suit. Consisting of shirt, waistcoat, coat.
The trousers of today were the breeches of bygone. The frilly lace and
fine line cravat has turned into the tie, modern man's sole badge of individuality.
Samuel Pepys Diary, 1666
Oct. 8. The King hath yesterday in Council declared his resolution
of setting a fashion for clothes, which he will never alter. It will
be a vest, I know not well how; but it is to each the nobility thrift,
and will do good.
Oct. 13. To White Hall, and there the Duke of York was just come
in from hunting. So I stood and saw him dress himself, and try on his
vest, which is the King's new fashion, and he will be in it for good
and all on Monday next, and the whole Court: it is a fashion, the King
says, he will never change.
Oct. 15. This day the King begins to put on his vest, and I did
see several persons of the house of Lords and Commons too, great courtiers,
who are in it; being a long cassocke close to the body, of black cloth,
and pinked with white silk under it, and a coat over it, and the legs
ruffled with black riband like a pigeon's leg: and, upon the whole,
I wish the King may keep it, for it is a very fine and handsome garment.
Oct. 17. The Court is all full of vests, only my Lord St. Albans
not pinked, but plain black; and they say the King says the pinking
upon whites makes them look too much like magpies, and, therefore, hath
bespoke one of plain velvet.
Nov. 4. (Lord's day). My taylor's man brings my vest home, and
coat to wear with it, and belt and silver-hilted sword; so I rose and
dressed myself, and I like myself mightily in it, and so do my wife...
and so, it being very cold, to White Hall, and was mighty fearful of
an ague, my vest being new and thin, and the coat cut not to meet before,
upon my vest.
John Evelyn Diary, 1666
Oct. 18. To court. It being the first time his majesty put himself
solemnly into the Eastern fashion of vest, changeing doublet, stiff
collar, bands and cloake, into a comely vest, after the persion mode,
with girdle or straps, and shoe strings and garters into bouckles, of
which some were set with precious stones, resolving never to alter it,
and to leave the French mode, which had hitherto obtain'd to our greate
expence and reproch. Upon which divers courtiers and gentlemen gave
his majesty gold by way of wager that he would not persist in his resolution.
I had sometime before presented an invective against that unconstancy,
and our so much affecting the French fashion, to his majesty, in which
I tooke occasion to describe the comliness and usefulness of the Persian
clothing, in the very same manner his majesty now clad himselfe. This
pamphlet I intitl'd Tyrannus, or the Mode, and gave it to his
Majesty to reade. I do not impute to this discourse the change which
soon happen'd, but it was an identity that I could not but take notice
Nothing happens nor
is adopted out of the blue, and political or religious reasons are often
the driving forces. When Charles II adopted the 'Persian' mode to go away
from the French fashion, this was clearly a political statement. He had
been chastised by parliament and many people on the streets for being
so 'French', which is not a surprise looking at where he had stayed in
exile, mainly in France at Louis XIV's court. He would have been heavily
influenced by French fashion and taste. Since the French and the English
have been having animosities though since at least the Norman conquest
in 1066, fashion fobs would be often called 'French dog!' in the streets
and pelted sometimes. Going away from the obvious French look was a clear
statement of 'being English' and also of supporting the English wool trade.
As you will see in the paintings, brocade is very rare in men's clothing
in England, and appears to be reserved for the waistcoats, but it the
fabric of choice for France. In fact, French court wear had to be made
from brocade, wool was not allowed, while the English court sported fine
worsted woollens, both indicators of the countries' main fabric productions.
But Lord! to see
the absurd nature of Englishmen, that cannot forbear laughing and jeering
at everything that looks strange.
Samuel Pepys: Diary, 27 November 1662
Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Men's Clothes 1600-1900. London: Faber
and Faber, 1964.
It is indeed the book for men's clothing patterns. Actually, it
is the only one for this period. All others are for theatrical costumes
Samuel Pepys Diary
British Library: The Archive of John Evelyn
Diary of John Evelyn