1. As with the Gheeraerts’ portraits I posted earlier, there has been a great deal of scholarly debate as to whether the woman in Johannes Vermeer’s Woman Reading a Letter (painted between 1662 and 1663) is actually pregnant, or merely fashionable. There has been similar debate regarding several other Vermeer paintings, most notably 1664’s Woman Holding a Balance.
Whether the women in these paintings are pregnant or not, the loose-fitting jackets that served as fashionable informal wear for Dutch women throughout the mid-17th century would have been ideal maternity wear. Something Vermeer was undoubtedly familiar with considering his wife gave birth to 14 children during their marriage.

    As with the Gheeraerts’ portraits I posted earlier, there has been a great deal of scholarly debate as to whether the woman in Johannes Vermeer’s Woman Reading a Letter (painted between 1662 and 1663) is actually pregnant, or merely fashionable. There has been similar debate regarding several other Vermeer paintings, most notably 1664’s Woman Holding a Balance.

    Whether the women in these paintings are pregnant or not, the loose-fitting jackets that served as fashionable informal wear for Dutch women throughout the mid-17th century would have been ideal maternity wear. Something Vermeer was undoubtedly familiar with considering his wife gave birth to 14 children during their marriage.

  2. Maria Leopoldine of Austria, wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, was painted by Lorenzo Lippi in 1649 while pregnant with what would be her only child. She died in childbirth the same year, at the age of seventeen.
The sides of the bodice Maria Leopoldine’s gown have been raised significantly from the styles of the time to allow space for her pregnant figure.

    Maria Leopoldine of Austria, wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, was painted by Lorenzo Lippi in 1649 while pregnant with what would be her only child. She died in childbirth the same year, at the age of seventeen.

    The sides of the bodice Maria Leopoldine’s gown have been raised significantly from the styles of the time to allow space for her pregnant figure.

  3. Charles Beaubrun painted this portrait of Anne of Austria in 1638 when she was 8 months pregnant with the future Louis XIV.
I think Anne’s dress is an extremely interesting approach to maternity fashion. Rather than simply altering the waistline, they expanded (and presumably added some creative padding to) the entire dress, allowing the dress to keep the fashionable lines of the time.

    Charles Beaubrun painted this portrait of Anne of Austria in 1638 when she was 8 months pregnant with the future Louis XIV.

    I think Anne’s dress is an extremely interesting approach to maternity fashion. Rather than simply altering the waistline, they expanded (and presumably added some creative padding to) the entire dress, allowing the dress to keep the fashionable lines of the time.

  4. Waistlines rose considerably for a brief period in the late 1610s and early 1620s. This high waistline, along with the fashionable edition of lace aprons, created a rather accommodating style for pregnant women.

    Marcus Gheeraerts II’s portrait of an unknown woman (top), often referred to as Portrait of a Woman in Red, was painted in 1620.

    Interestingly, there is a great deal scholarly debate about whether the woman in this portrait and other contemporaneous “pregnancy portraits” are actually pregnant, or simply following fashion trends that make them appear so. Take for example Gheeraerts’ 1621 portrait of an unmarried, and presumably un-pregnant Susanna Temple (bottom).

    I personally believe the Woman in Red is actually pregnant (note her hand resting on her stomach).

  5. Lavishly embroidered linen jackets were incredibly fashionable in England from just after 1600 until the mid-1620s.
This jacket’s loose fit and simple tie front suggest that it was worn during pregnancy.

    Lavishly embroidered linen jackets were incredibly fashionable in England from just after 1600 until the mid-1620s.

    This jacket’s loose fit and simple tie front suggest that it was worn during pregnancy.

  6. Since Halloween is nearly upon us I though now would be a good time to focus on the history of costumes and fancy dress.
Records of costume balls are found as early the Middle Ages, Charles VI’s Bal des Ardents being a particularly infamous example, and are thought to have developed mainly from traditional religious festivals, most notable Carnival.
Renaissance era masquerades, in which participants often only hid their face rather than wearing full costumes, play very famous roles in literature throughout 16th and 17th centuries. Romeo and Juliet obviously being the most notable example.
This painting by Dutch artist Denijs van Alsloot shows a skating masquerade held on the Kipdorppoort Moats in Antwerp circa 1620. A few gentlemen in the center of the painting are in full costume and several ladies are wearing masks, but most of the attendees are in plainclothes.

    Since Halloween is nearly upon us I though now would be a good time to focus on the history of costumes and fancy dress.

    Records of costume balls are found as early the Middle Ages, Charles VI’s Bal des Ardents being a particularly infamous example, and are thought to have developed mainly from traditional religious festivals, most notable Carnival.

    Renaissance era masquerades, in which participants often only hid their face rather than wearing full costumes, play very famous roles in literature throughout 16th and 17th centuries. Romeo and Juliet obviously being the most notable example.

    This painting by Dutch artist Denijs van Alsloot shows a skating masquerade held on the Kipdorppoort Moats in Antwerp circa 1620. A few gentlemen in the center of the painting are in full costume and several ladies are wearing masks, but most of the attendees are in plainclothes.

  7. A fashion plate of a French noblewoman in a striped mantua, dated 1684.

    A fashion plate of a French noblewoman in a striped mantua, dated 1684.

  8. In honor of the first day of spring I thought I would pull out some of fashion history’s palest pastels and loveliest floral prints to help welcome the season.
These colorful enamel and pearl earrings date to the last third of the 17th century and were made to match this necklace.

    In honor of the first day of spring I thought I would pull out some of fashion history’s palest pastels and loveliest floral prints to help welcome the season.

    These colorful enamel and pearl earrings date to the last third of the 17th century and were made to match this necklace.

  9. This print from 1687, on top of being my very favorite 17th century fashion print, finally shows some practicality when it comes to winter fashion.
This gentlewoman wears a very cozy looking quilted petticoat, longer sleeves and has a visible pocket slit in her over skirt that would have allowed hands to be kept warm inside the skirt.

    This print from 1687, on top of being my very favorite 17th century fashion print, finally shows some practicality when it comes to winter fashion.

    This gentlewoman wears a very cozy looking quilted petticoat, longer sleeves and has a visible pocket slit in her over skirt that would have allowed hands to be kept warm inside the skirt.

  10. Woman’s wear of the late 17th century still strictly conformed to fashion rules despite the cold weather. The court-fashion-dictated half length sleeves were not lengthened for winter. Women instead kept there lower arms in muffs, as seen on her left arm.

    Woman’s wear of the late 17th century still strictly conformed to fashion rules despite the cold weather. The court-fashion-dictated half length sleeves were not lengthened for winter. Women instead kept there lower arms in muffs, as seen on her left arm.