Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fashionable Encounters - A new book due out shortly

Fashionable Encounters. Perspectives and Trends in Textiles and Dress in the Early Modern Nordic World., edited by Tove Engelhardt Mathiasen, M.-L. Nosch,  Maj Ringgaard, Kirsten Toftegaard, and Mikkel Venborg Pedersen. Oxbow Books, Oxford 2014, (due out 30th May).  Ancient Textiles Series, no.14

The book has sixteen papers which focus on the Nordic world (Denmark, Norway, Sweden Finland, Iceland, the Faroe Isles and Greenland) and says it covers 1500–1850, however most of the papers are on the 17th and 18th centuries.

There is a contents list and further information at the Oxbow website
Note that this is available for pre order and is currently cheaper direct from Oxbow £28.50, than from Amazon £36.85, but I don’t know what Oxbow is charging for postage.

I was privileged to hear Maj Ringgaard talk about 17th Scandinavia knitted jackets at a Knitting History Forum meeting, so I am really looking forward to her paper. They are very different to the “Italian” jackets we are used to in the V&A and other western, as opposed to northern, European museums.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Hose or stockings – what’s in a word?

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey 1546
Someone asked me the difference between hose and stockings. Ask me a simple question why don’t you? There are two problems here. The first is that English English and American English start to part company in the seventeenth century, just at the time when in England the term hose is changing, becoming old fashioned and dropping out of use. 

I remember being surprised by a song in the seventies which had a line in the chorus, “May your wife be plagued with ladders in her hose.” In England we had stockings, which you wore with suspenders, and tights which were in one piece. Then someone told me that in America tights are panty hose.
Back to the early modern period. Hose is the older word coming from the Anglo Saxon hosa, and appearing also in the other Germanic languages. In the middle ages hose was something that covered the whole leg and did not necessarily include the foot. It usually came as a pair but, because they came as separate legs not joined, they could be single, “The firste man that he mette with an hose on that one foot & none on that other.” (Caxton’s translation of Raoul Lefevre, The History of Jason, 1477).  By the end of the middle ages they are joined, as in the surviving Kloster Alpirsbach hose which date from c1490-c1530, a detail of the top part can be seen here

Here we come to the second problem. By the time we get into the sixteenth century the use of the word is evolving. As Maria Hayward (2007) says “it does not appear to have been used in a consistent manner.”  Looking at Hayward’s analysis of Henry’s wardrobe accounts the term hose is used almost exclusively at the beginning of his reign (1510-17) by the end of his reign (1538-45) you still have a lot of hose, but you also have a considerable number of base stocks, netherstocks and pairs of stocks. These stocks may be your stockings, indicating the move from hose that cover the whole leg, to hose that only cover the top part of the leg, and eventually become referred to as breeches, with stocks, netherstocks, stockings or socks covering the lower part of the leg.
The way this works can be seen in this description from 1536 which refers to a pair of hose, but the upper section is obviously make separately from the lower. “Item for making a paire of hoose, upper stocked with carnacion coloured satten, cutte and embroidered with golde and also lined with fine white clothe, with two paire of nether stockis, the one paire skarlette, and the other paire blacke carsye.” (1536) Looking more like the separation that can be seen in the 1546 portrait of Henry Howard.

For women of course hose never covered the whole leg. For both men and women hose, certainly in the upper levels of society, were made by hosiers, not by tailors. George Lovekyn, who was tailor to Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII, made doublets, jackets and gowns, but no hose. (Sutton, 1981) His immediate successor, who had been his apprentice, was Stephen Jasper, he also did not make hose. However there are many references in Henry VIII’s wardrobe accounts to William Hosier, who did make hose. Likewise the queens had their own hosiers; Thomas Humbertson for Elizabeth of York, Thomas Hardy for Anne Boleyn, Robert Hardy for Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr. (Hayward, 2007)

Stocking is a much more recent word, the first usage in the Oxford English Dictionary is in Stubbes Anatomy of Abuses of 1583, but it comes from the word stock in its sense of meaning to cover, as in from 1530 “A yerd of black to stock my master's hose.” A half way house from stock to stocking appears to be stockis. The Privy Purse Accounts of Henry VIII have in 1530   “Every one of them ij payer of hosen and ij payer of stockis.” However stockis is sometimes used instead of hose so in 1535 we have “A paire of upper stockis of purple veluette,..also..a newe paire of nether stockis.” The upper stocks/stockis/hose are what become known as breeches, and the netherstocks, nether stockis, hose, are what become stockings. 

So the terms are not exactly interchangeable, but require context to know what is meant. As late as 1647 someone writes of “all that was in the pockets of their Holliday hose.” On the grounds that stockings don’t have pockets, they must mean breeches.

Should we have a quick chorus of “Bring me my yellow hose again,” or hose colour as an indicator of marital status. 

Hayward, M., 2007. Dress at the court of King Henry VIII. Leeds: Maney.
OED Oxford English Dictionary online.
Sutton, A. F., 1981. George Lovekyn, tailor to three kings of England, 1470-1504. Costume, pp. 1-12.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset: 1613 portrait and 1617 inventory

Richard Sackville by William Larkin, 1613

Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset (1589-1624) succeeded to the title on the death of his father, Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl of Dorset (1560/61–1609).  He was married in 1609 to Anne Clifford (1590-1676), who is probably best known for her diary of the period 1616-19. The marriage was not particularly happy, Sackville was unfaithful and extravagant, he was once described as “a man of spirit and talent, but a licentious spendthrift.” (Jacob, 1974) Anne had a long running legal case against her uncle in respect of her father’s will, and in 1617 Sackville signed away her claim in return for monies which he used to pay off his gambling debts. (Spence, 2014)
The painting shown here was produced by William Larkin around 1613. We actually have an inventory of Sackville’s clothing, now in the Kent Archive Office and dated 2nd June 1617, which lists what appears to be this suit. Every item worn in the portrait is described with the exceptions of his shirt, shoes and hat, although the shoe rose (MacTaggart, 1980)
s and hat band are described. They appear in the inventory as items 35 to 44
The spellings have been modernised.  Terms which appear in the list in bold have notes or definitions at the end; these notes are in alphabetical order.

35 Item one cloak of uncut velvet black laced with seven embroidered laces of gold and black silk and above the borders powdered with slips of satin embroidered and lined with shag of black silver and gold
36 Item one doublet of cloth of silver embroidered all over in slips of satin black and gold
37 Item one pair of black silk grosgrain hose cut upon white cloth of sliver and embroidered all over with slips of black satin and gold
38 Item one girdle and hangers of white cloth of silver embroidered with slips of black satin and gold.
39 Item one pair of gloves with tops of white cloth of silver embroidered with slips of black satin and gold laced with gold and silver lace.
41 Item one black pair of taffeta garters edge round with a small edging lace of gold and silver
42 Item one pair of roses of black ribbon laced with gold and silver lace.
43 Item one pair of white silk stockings embroidered with gold silver and black silk
44 Item a hatband embroidered with gold and silver upon black taffeta made up with gold and silver lace. 

Item 40 does not appear in the painting it is another pair of stockings, this time “black silk stockings embroidered with gold and silver.”

Girdle and hangers: A girdle is a belt worn around the waist usually to carry light articles, when paired with the term hanger, a type of sword, it indicates a belt for a sword. 

Grosgrain: Although at later dates this is usually described as a corded fabric, the original use comes from the French meaning of a large or coarse grain. The OED describes it as “A coarse fabric of silk, of mohair and wool, or of these mixed with silk; often stiffened with gum.” (OED, 2014)

Hatband: The hat with its hatband is on the table behind Sackville. Hatbands also followed fashion causing the playwright Dekker (1609) to comment that a gallant would, “take off his hat to none unless his hatband be of a newer fashion than yours.” 

Detail of Layton jacket
Lace: when used in the sense of “a small edging lace of gold and silver” on the garters, shoe roses or gloves, then this probably is a bobbin lace made of gold or silver thread, as in this edging (right) to the Layton jacket in the V&A. However  when the term is used, as it is for the cloak “embroidered laces of gold and black silk” then it is more likely to be an ornamental braid appliqued onto the fabric, as in this late sixteenth century cloak in the Museum of London  a rear view of the same cloak can be seen here

Roses: The rise and fall of the shoe rose is cover in a blogpost here.  Peacham (1618) complained that shoe roses were so expensive they could be “from thirty shillings to three, four and five pounds the pair.”

Shag: Shag is any fabric with a long raised pile – think of shag carpets for a modern use of the term. It may look like fur when seen in a painting.  A surviving garment with shag is Francis Verney’s loose gown from c.1608, surprisingly I cannot find this in the National Trust’s image database, but it is available here

Slips: Slips are embroidered motifs which are worked and then cut out and appliqued onto a, usually more expensive, ground fabric. Sometimes the slips survive on their own without their backing fabric as in this example, sold by Bonhams, or this in the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Uncut examples, where the motif was worked, but it was never used, also survive.

Dekker, T., 1609. The gull's hornbook. s.l.:s.n.
Jacob, J., 1974. The Suffolk Collection: catalogue of paintings. London: Greater London Council.
MacTaggart, P. and A., 1980. The rich wearing apparel of Richard, 3rd Earl of Dorset. Costume, Volume 14.
OED, 2014. Oxford English Dictionary. grosgrain. [Online] Available at:
[Accessed 16th April 2014].
Peacham, H., 1618. The truth of our times.. London: s.n.
Spence, R. T., 2014. Oxford dictionary of national biography. Anne Clifford. [Online]
Available at: [Accessed 15th April 2014].

Thursday, 10 April 2014

A 1620s fashion: virago sleeves and over gowns

Marie-Louise de Tassis by Van Dyck 

This started when someone posted a detail of a SebastianVrancx painting onto the English Civil War (ECW) and Mid-17th Century Living History Group page on Facebook, the detail is in the bottom right of the painting. While others were discussing the fact that she’s wear a partlet under her gown I was looking at two other features. First since she is taking off the gown, the painting is entitled travellers attacked by robbers, you can see that it is a bodice with a skirt attached, an over gown. Second that she has “virago sleeves,” and as the museum date the painting to 1617-19 these are early.

The over gown.

1620s and 1630s outfits from Kelly and Schwabe
Over gowns with separate skirts attached to them rarely survive from this period, the only adult one I can think of is the 1639 gown worn by Pfalzgrafin Dorothea Maria von Sulzbach. (Arnold, 1985) The loose gowns examined by Janet Arnold cover the period 1570 to 1620, but they are one piece from shoulder to ground, and the next examples are the manutas from the late 1690s, early 1700s, again one piece from shoulder to ground. (Arnold, 1977)  There was a surviving over gown of the 1620s in France before the Second World War which appeared in Kelly & Schwabe’s (1929) book Historic Costume 1490-1790, shown left. I have no idea where this garment is now, it was originally in the collection of the Société de l’Histoire du Costume, Paris. This is the sort of over gown which appears in the Vrancx painting and here in the Van Dyck portrait of Portrait of Marie-Louise de Tassis. In the Van Dyck portrait, like the example in Kelly & Schwabe, the virago sleeves are on the under bodice, and the over gown has a simple sleeve open at the front and caught together only at the cuff. Whereas in the Vrancx painting the virago sleeves appear to be on the gown. The pattern in Kelly and Schwabe is described as after Leloir, Leloir’s Histoire du costume, tome VIII, Louis XII (1610-1643) was not published until 1933, but the authors acknowledge his help in their introduction. The pattern gives only the under bodice and the bodice of the over gown with no pattern for the skirt, nor any information as to how it was attached, and is shown below.

Pattens from Kelly and Schwabe

 Emily Gordenker (2001) has commented that Van Dyck, in his later years, removed the over gown from the ladies he painted in order to simplify the garments worn, so that he could paint the costume more rapidly. However the gown does appear to be going out of fashion by the middle of the century, though at least one of Hollar’s Ornatus prints seems to show this style.

The sleeves.
According to several sources Randle Holme in his Academie of Armory, 1688, described virago sleeves as ‘The heavily puffed and slashed sleeve of a woman’s gown, then fashionable.’ I haven’t actually been able to find this quote. Comments I can find in Holme are that sleeves have “As much variety of fashion as days in the year,” and “The slasht-sleeve, is when the sleeve from shoulder to the sleeve hands are cut in long slices or fillets; and are tied together at the elbow with ribbons, or such like.”  When looking at a series of dated women’s portraits the earliest I have previously found was 1620 and the latest 1632, giving a fashionable period of some ten years. There is some slashing at the top of Queen Anne’s 1617 sleeve in the painting by Somers, but it is not a virago sleeve. In most of the portraits the virago sleeve is on the garment worn under the gown and not, as in the Vrancx painting, on the gown itself. 

Hollar. Plate from Ornatus
Arnold, J., 1977. Patterns of Fashion 1: 1660-1860. London: Macmillan.
Arnold, J., 1985. Patterns of Fashion: the cut and construction of clothes for men and women c. 1560-1620.. London: Macmillan.
Gordenker, E., 2001. Anthony Van Dyck and the representation of dress in seventeenth century portraiture. Turnhout: Brepols.
Kelly, F. M. and Schwabe. R., 1929. Historic costume. 2nd ed. London: Batsford.

Some paintings with virago sleeves.
Princess Magdalena Sybilla, unknown artist c.1630
Queen Henrietta Maria by Mytens 1630
Queen Henrietta Maria by Anthony Van Dyck
Grace Bradbourne (d.1627), Wife of Sir Thomas Holte attributed to  Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen
Charlotte Butkens, Lady von Anoy, with her son. Anthony Van Dyke C. 1631
Abigail Sacheverell, Mrs Humphrey Pakington by Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen 1630
Katheryn Spiller, Lady Reynell attributed to Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen 1631 
Elizabeth Wriothesley, née Vernon, Countess of Southampton, unknown artist,  c.1620