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28 October 2011 @ 01:08 am
It's All About the Clothes  
Here are my scribbled notes from the lecture by Jill M. Hall, Co-Manager of the Jacket Project and Scholar of Historical Costume on It’s All About the Clothes

Trying to place the jacket in context. Susan Vincent in her Dressing the Elite says that looking for evidence of embroidered jackets is like “looking for salt in the sea” in that it is everywhere and yet nowhere.

The tradition of embroidery was well established in England. The Ditchley portrait of Elizabeth I shows a different style and type of embroidery all over her garment. She wears long hanging sleeves, the sleeve was placed at the
natural shoulder, and the waist was elongated. Other portraits show embroidery on the body of the doublet, on the panes of the trunkhose and sleeves, and even gold lace on shoes.


Clothing is personal and symbolic. Since there wasn’t a pattern of depicting everyday life in English painting, we turn to Dutch paintings of everyday life.
The Lawyer’s Office by De Bloot in 1628 shows a variety of classes.
The Courtier, 1561
Clothes signaled change in status. A couple may have been married in private, and waited until wearing new clothes to church to announce the marriage.

Specifically with the embroidered jackets and ensembles, there appear to be around 100 portraits showing them between 1590 - 1630, in two different themes, the Matron goes to the Masques.
Lady Scudamere, Mary Throckmorten’s portrait from 1615 shows her more as the matron, the jacket is not the main
piece as it is mostly covered up by her robe, and her skin is covered by ruff, and gloves.

Portrait of a Young Woman of the Hampden Family from 1610 has the lady dressed for a masque. The
jacket has a lower neckline, hair is loose, her petticoat is embroidered, and she wears a Roman style mantle draped around her.

William Larkin’s 1614-18 portrait of Dorothy Cary, Vicountess Rochford, show the matron wearing a slightly yellowed linen, which could be from starching the linen with saffron.
Margret Layton’s famous 1620 portrait and jacket depicts her covered up. She was married to the Keeper of the Jewels, so had some wealth and status. She wears a robe over her jacket, but it isn’t as ornate as Mary Throckmorten’s, she wore her petticoat over her jacket to imitate the higher waistline that was more fashionable at the time.

The view at the time was that the body was vulnerable to disease, so clothing was like an armour. The English Housewife published by Markham in 1625 was a man’s advice to women managing a household, including bleaching recipes.
Adriaen van de Venne, 1628, Albumn #6 Bleaching shows care of linens.
Miniature showing an Unidentified Man in his shift by Isaac Oliver in 1620.
“He shifts after he’s exercised or hot tempered.” Uses ‘shifts’ as a verb to change linen, changing the name of the item from smock to shift.
Linen absorbed sweat, dirt, and body oils and the linen was regularly changed and cleaned instead of regular bathing.

The Sick Child, 1663-4 by Gabriel Metsen hanging in the Rijksmuseum
Portrait of the Artist’s (3rd) Wife, Elizabeth Harding in 1615 by Isaac Oliver
Domestic Interior, c.1659 by Pieter de Hooch
Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southhampton, c. 1620 shows front closing stays/bodies and a hanging petticoat.
A Maid Asleep c. 1657 by Vermeer and the Sleeping Kitchenmaid c. 1655 by Maes shows that even relaxed, not able to slump due to bodies.
By 1633 the waistline has risen higher, neckline is wider, an overall broader look to the body.
A 1633 painting of a family on a terrace shows an Allegory of Marital Fidelity by Jan Miense Molenaer, and in the background left shows a maid wearing an embroidered jacket.

Children wore feminine gowns until around age 8. Styles utilized leading strings Women’s fashions retained vestiges of childhood styles. (hanging sleeves as leading strings) Pink and blue were not used as a gender signifier. Lady Anne Clifford documented that her daughter, referred to as child, wore her first pair of stays at around 2 years old.

Robert Peake’s 1608 portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales, on the Hunting Field shows different dress and status between the prince, his servant without hat, and the groom. A story of an Englishman who was also an Ambassador to the English court mentions the custom of remaining hatted, or not. In a public appearance with the King he was allowed to wear hishat, but did not (and would not) wear his hat in private with the King and Queen.


1618 painting of the Regents of the Old Bank by van der Voort, shows a lot of black due to luxury and expense.
1651 portrait of Edward Winslow is the only surviving portrait contemporary to the pilgrims of the Mayflower and Plimoth.
Black was worn with stark white linens as a show of solidity and respectability and wealth. Thus it was worn and utilized in portraiture. But there were other colors in use. 1620, A View of Richmond Palace from the Thames - detail shows a brown jacket with a dark petticoat, ruffled collar, broad brim hat.
Van der Venne, 1628, Album #58 Woman Selling Peat
Colors of ordinary clothes were violet, red, green, blues, yellows, as well as natural colors like brown, and faded tones.
Adriaen van der Venne’s drawings in the British Museum

Professional embroiderers were men, but household embroiderers were female. Apprenticeships required some means to procure them, so not a profession for the poor.

The legacy of the project is that it is possible.