Sunday, 29 January 2012

Stockings – research and reconstruction sources

On putting together an item on mid 17th century stockings I went through a load of books and articles and a load of sites. These are some of the best sites I know.
The website of the Knitting History Forum. The forum holds a study day in London in November each year. It has its origins in the Early (pre 1600) Knitting History Group formed by Montse Stanley in the 1990s. I remember going to an early meeting at UCL and thinking myself way out of my depth as I was with a group of very eminent costume historians. It now has a much wider membership and remit and an online Yahoo group at Knitting History Yahoo group  
Another Yahoo group is Historic Knit This group has a larger and more American membership than the Knitting History Forum, and has many re-enactment members. The files held on the site include patterns which endeavour to reconstruct the Elenora de Toledo (1562) stockings, and provide a usable version of the 1655 Natura Extenterata pattern. There are also lots of photographs on the site. istoric Knit
The website of the Deutsches Strumpfmuseum (German Stocking Museum) Covers the whole history of hose and stockings. There are technical pages showing machines, and history pages showing surviving examples, such as the 17th stockings shown here. However many of the illustrations of costume in the timeline look as though they have been taken from 19th century prints.
Knitting Together, A website covering the history of the East Midlands knitting industry, but the earliest stocking example in the virtual museum dates from c.1700.
Maria Riley’s Notes on 18th century stockings is very useful for re-enactors. Go to her chart to work out how to knit a pair of stockings to fit you.
The University of Southampton has a wide collection of knitting history materials having been the recipient of both Montse Stanley’s and Richard Rutt’s collections. Some of Rutt’s 19th century knitting manuals have been digitised and are now available online. They also run a conference in September called In the Loop, the third in the series will be held 5-7 September 2012
The Medieval and Renaissance Material Culture website run by Karen Larsdatter has a Hosiery page bringing together images of hose from the 12th to 16th centuries

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Latest issue of Costume is out

The new issue of the journal Costume (ISSN: 0590-8876); Volume 46, No. 1 out, arrived through my letterbox this morning. I have a vested interest since it contains my latest paper. The contents of the issue include:
Queen Anne Commands: Clothing the Kettle Drummer to the Ordnance, 1705-1708
Poppy, Pat  pp. 3-16
 The Clothing of a Georgian Banker, Thomas Coutts: A Story of Museum Dispersal
Wilcox, David   pp. 17-54
 'Does Your Highness feel like a gold person or a silver one?' Princess Margaret and Dior
Behlen, Beatrice  pp. 55-74
Elle and the Development of Stylisme in 1960s Paris
Romano, Alexis  pp. 75-91
Dress for Success: A Journey from Past to Present Among Tibetans
Bassini, Patrizia   pp. 92-110

Friday, 20 January 2012

Seventeenth Century Account Book

Consumption and gender in the early seventeenth-century household : the world of Alice Le Strange by Jane Whittle and Elizabeth Griffiths. This book is due out in March at £60 for OUP (9780199233533). There was a research project at Birkbeck (my old alma mater) information on which is available at It  analysed the household accounts of Alice Le Strange, a member of the Norfolk gentry, for the years 1606–1653. The link includes information on an outfit which appears to be a waistcoat, petticoat and robe, the total for its purchase being £30. Looks like black grosgrain robe over a lemon satin waistcoat and petticoat. Trimmed with black and silver lace and silver buttons. This is the seventeenth century equivalent of a couture dress.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Rags and Riches - Conference in April 2012

Rags and Riches:Dress and Dress Accessories in Social Context
University of Reading, 21st April 2012
This multidisciplinary day conference aims to bring together archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and others from related disciplines with an interest in the social analysis of dress to discuss current issues of methodology, theory and interpretation.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

In the Loop 3 – knitting history conference call for papers

IN THE LOOP 3 : The voices of knitting
A three day international conference - Dedicated to the memory of Richard Rutt
Discovery Centre, Winchester - 5 - 7 September 2012
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Carol Christiansen , Jonathan Faiers , Jessica Hemmings ,
Hazel Hughson, Martin Polley
In response to the success of both In the Loop 1 & 2, and with reference to the continuing interest in knitting, this third interdisciplinary conference proposes an exploration of knitting through a range of voices covering a variety of themes.
We welcome new and recent research in the form of short abstracts comprising up to 300 words from practitioners, knitters, historians, conservators, theorists, educators, curators, technologists and the industry. Abstracts will be considered for formal 20 minute papers.
Deadline for abstracts: March 1, 2012
Notification of decision: April 1, 2012
All enquires and abstracts to the Conference Administrator:
Please forward to any interested parties.
Further information at

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Portable Antiquities Database as a resource for buttons

Many early modern and later buttons were made of metal and are therefore often found by metal detectors. The database of the Portable Antiquities Scheme is a good resource for information on these types of button. If looking for examples of early modern buttons go to the advanced search option at . Under main details chose object type - button, and under temporal details chose broad period - Post Medieval, and sub period - early, this will give you mainly 16th and 17th century buttons. The result will be around 300 examples of period buttons. Click on a find number for full details, this should give you a photograph and a complete description. The photo below, though of a mid 17th century button is not from the database.

Monday, 9 January 2012

New book by Aileen Ribeiro on the history of cosmetics

Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art, published 5th December 2011 by Yale University Press. ISBN: 9780300124866 . UK £30, US $45.00 
A book on the relationships between women and cosmetics and covering in the main the period 1540 to 1940, Aileen Ribeiro is always good value for money, for reviews look at

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Military and other early modern gloves

The Spence collection of gloves is a wonderful resource with vast numbers of early modern gloves beautifully photographed, with detailed photographs of the embroidered and decorated gauntlets. However there are two 17th century gloves described as being possibly military.
One glove is plain and described as a military or falconry glove (Accession No. 23397 + A- shown below) It is of heavy brown suede leather, but at 57 cm. long would reach above the elbow making it unlikely to be a military glove as it would make bending at the elbow difficult
A second glove (Accession No. 23457 + A) is dated 1600-1650. Made of heavy buff suede leather, the gauntlets are of the same leather cut in scales to look like scale armour. At 41 cm. long they would reach to, but not over the elbow.
Have a look at the site it is a super resource.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Elizabethan Vizard Mask

For those who haven’t already seen it an Elizabethan Vizard mask was found in 2010 and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme on their database where there are full details. These full face masks were kept in place by a button held in the mouth, which survives with this original. They were used through the 16th, 17th and into the 18th century, more often later for masque and masquerade wear. They could be worn by men as well as women, as in the 1655 quote from Thomas Stanley “Some wild young men, lay in wait for him, attired like furies, with vizards and torches.”  Pepys (12th June 1663) commented that his wife at the theatre “put on her vizard and so kept it on all the play.”
The mid 18th century portrait in pastels of Louise Geneviève Le Blond, Madame Royer shows her holding a very similar mask.
A half mask could also be worn, held on as shown clearly in this c.1640 print by Hollar.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A seventeenth century widow’s coif

 A rare survival of a widow’s black coif in is the Mode Museum, Antwerp. This is a simple garment showing the exaggerated widow’s peak over the forehead, which had been around for a couple of centuries. Henry VII’s mother complained about it, “beakes be in no manner of wise used” however used they continued to be. Cunnington, P. and Lucas, C. (1972) Costume for Births, Marriages and Deaths has a portrait of Henrietta Maria from 1649-50 (plate 30b) showing her wearing a veil where the scalloped lace of the veil imitates the widow’s peak. Below is a portrait of Claudia de' Medici, Archduchess of Austria (1604-1648) clearly showing the widow’s peak.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A memorial conference for Geoff Egan

Heavy Metal and Dirty Deeds: Buttons, Hooks & Other Dress AccessoriesA memorial conference for Geoff Egan held jointly
by the Medieval Dress and Textile Society and the Finds Research Group
Date: Saturday 10th March 2011
Venue: Weston Theatre, Museum of London
This one day conference is to be held in memory of Geoff Egan, to celebrate his enormous
contribution and continuing influence on the study of medieval (and later) dress accessories.
The papers will look at different aspects of dress accessories and the speakers will include colleagues of Geoff's.
The conference will cost £20 for members of MEDATS or the FRG, £25 for non-members and £15 for students. Further details and how to book are available on the MEDATS website:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A fashion plate of c.1688

A paper by Alice Dolan on a “fashion” plate of c.1688, covered with textiles and lace, which Dolan refers to as an adorned print is online at:,-female-leisure-and-the-dissemination-of-fashion-in-france-and-england,-c.-1660-1779/  The subject is the opera dancer Marie-Thérèse Perdou de Subligny (1666-1735), and the silks and lace used to adorn the plate are discussed, together with the nature of fashion plates of that period.

In the beginning

I am an independent dress historian by interest, and a university librarian by profession.

This blog is for anyone with an interest in the history of clothing, dress, textiles, embroidery and lace, particularly of the early modern period, c.1550-c.1750, though I'm always happy to look at clothing outside these periods. I hope to put on here, as well as my own thoughts, information on exhibitions, books (old, new and forthcoming), and links to interesting websites.