16th century 8
17th century 34
18th century 62
19th century 85
20th century 128
FASHION ACCESSORIES can, of course, be purely practical: headwear, shoes and gloves to keep one dry and warm; belts to hold up trousers and skirts; pouches, purses and handbags for money; umbrellas and parasols to keep off rain or sun. But they can be so much more. They are worn or carried to be ‘in fashion’; out of vanity; to attract the opposite sex – or to make one’s own sex envious.
More often than clothes, accessories can proclaim the wearer’s wealth, rank or status in society. For instance, 16thcentury embroidered gloves and laceedged handkerchieves were more usually held than carried – mere status symbols. In the 16th century, a man’s black velvet ‘Court’ bonnet gave him inrmiediate courtly distinction. ‘Real’ jewellery in any age, denotes some wealth but this was even more evident from 1500 to the late 18th century when jewels were not only sewn on to garments but on to all kinds of accessories. Only the rich carried silvertopped canes, jewelled snuffboxes or the most exotic fans. Only they wore diamond-studded shoe buckles or carried the frothiest of parasols. Only the outre woman would deck her towering powdered wig with feathers, flowers and even a miniature ship, and only dashing Regency bucks would jingle their fob seals as they sauntered in their beautifully made Hessian boots. To distinguish themselves from their servants, early Victorian women and girls of the rising, wealthy middle-class, wore short white or lemon-coloured kid gloves indoors to show that they did no work. The early Victorian gentleman displayed his male superiority by wearing a tall stove-pipe top hat; his womenfolk their female inferiority in their face-concealing bonnets.
Furthermore, accessories can symbolize an age: the Elizabethan ruff; the ‘Cavalier’ lace collar; the Gainsborough ‘picture’ hat; the Victorian bonnet; the Edwardian wing-collar; the ‘My Fair Lady’ hat; the 1920’s cloche; 1930’s brogues and the 1960’s women’s long boot. From the end of the 18th century, accessories, especially for women, changed more rapidly than clothes. A woman might have only a relatively small number of clothes to choose from – but a multitude of handbags and shoes.
The depiction of the most accurate of costumes can be spoiled by the wrong accessories – or those incorrectly made or badly proportioned. In this book, therefore, I have set out to illustrate and describe the wide range of accessories which are appropriate and fashionable at given periods. To aid the important allover picture, each period is illustrated with a full-length figure wearing the kind of garments with which the accessories would have been worn or carried, together with a brief summing-up of the fashion trend. In the main, the book deals with the fashionable, upper-classes. The middle or ‘merchant’ class is included only when its clothes and accessories sharply differed. After the late 18th century, the less well-off tended to wear garments and accessories similar to those of the wealthy. In America, except for the early Settlers’ Puritan garb and what was worn in the Wild West period, fashion on the whole, closely followed that of Europe. However, until the 19th century, it was usually less extravagant and exaggerated.
As well as consulting recent and contemporary costume books, journals, magazines and fashion plates I have also made use of books devoted to portrait painters. Among the ‘greats’ are Holbein, Kneller, Gainsborough and Reynolds; among the lesser-known, but equally valuable, are Hans Eworth, Marcus Gheeraerts and Cornelius Johnson. Such miniaturists as Nicholas Hilliard, Isaac Oliver and Samuel Cooper are particularly useful regarding headdresses, hats, ruffs, collars and jewellery. The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Tate and The National Portrait Galleries, among others, have held many exhibitions of portrait painters and miniaturists and I have found their illustrated catalogues of immense help.
Reproductions of portraits can also be found in likely and unlikely places: such as illustrated biographies and histories; in magazines devoted to the arts and antiques, in general magazines, in Colour Supplements and even newspapers. For those making a serious study of fashion it is a good idea to keep files or scrapbooks. 1500- 1525 In the early years of the century, men’s fashion was strongly influenced by Italian and Franco- Flemish styles.
Shirts were low-necked and often voluminous; doublets and jerkins tight-fitting, the front opening filled-in with a stomacher. Men wore short, medium or long coats, gowns, cassocks or cloaks, which were fur-lined, with wide, thrown-back collars. Hair – except in Germany – was worn long. The Milan bonnet worn here, was almost universal.
By the 1520s, doublets were more elaborate and slashing – of German-Swiss origin – was universally apphed to garments and accessories. Shoulders wide; shoes broad-toed. In an unhygenic age, the wealthy protected themselves with perfume and musk contained in pomanders; often of gold fihgree and richly jewelled and enamelled. Men carried them on chains; women at the end of long girdles.
Apart from gauntlets worn for hunting, gloves were short with tabbed cuffs. Made of leather, silk or velvet, they were often slashed at the knuckles to reveal rings. Also worn by Shoes were broad-toed, plain or slashed; sUpper styles were often fastened by straps or ribbons over the instep. They were made of leather, velvet or silk, with leather or cork soles; and heels were rare until the 1580s.