1. A gorgeous 1880s Elizabethan style gown made by the legendary Charles Worth.

    A gorgeous 1880s Elizabethan style gown made by the legendary Charles Worth.

  2. 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.

  3. The stripe-themed post was somewhat delayed by a particularly virulent strain of bubonic plague and/or head cold that I picked up as of late. But I present it to you now in all it’s glory, if somewhat lacking in academic profundity as that requires braining and you know, words. I apologize ahead of time for any fever-induced tangents or lack of coherence.
So to begin…
If I ever figure out how to sew and make a Renaissance-era costume it will be this one. The stripes just make it so much fun than the average Renaissance dress.
Painting by Paolo Veronese and dates to the 1560s. 

    The stripe-themed post was somewhat delayed by a particularly virulent strain of bubonic plague and/or head cold that I picked up as of late. But I present it to you now in all it’s glory, if somewhat lacking in academic profundity as that requires braining and you know, words. I apologize ahead of time for any fever-induced tangents or lack of coherence.

    So to begin…

    If I ever figure out how to sew and make a Renaissance-era costume it will be this one. The stripes just make it so much fun than the average Renaissance dress.

    Painting by Paolo Veronese and dates to the 1560s. 

  4. A portrait of sisters Aurelia and Madalena Doria by an unknown Italian artist, circa 1570, again shows the common belief that coral had protective powers for children. The girls are not only wearing coral necklaces, but also have coral beads decorating their dresses.

    A portrait of sisters Aurelia and Madalena Doria by an unknown Italian artist, circa 1570, again shows the common belief that coral had protective powers for children. The girls are not only wearing coral necklaces, but also have coral beads decorating their dresses.

  5. A carved coral pendant from the late 16th Century.

    A carved coral pendant from the late 16th Century.

  6. Red coral was traditionally believed to save children from illness, promote fertility and protect against witchcraft. Because of these beliefs necklaces of coral beads became an almost universal accessory for young women, especially in Italy where coral was more widely available.
This portrait of a young woman with a coral necklace and pendant was painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio, who was the teacher of Michelangelo, circa 1485.

    Red coral was traditionally believed to save children from illness, promote fertility and protect against witchcraft. Because of these beliefs necklaces of coral beads became an almost universal accessory for young women, especially in Italy where coral was more widely available.

    This portrait of a young woman with a coral necklace and pendant was painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio, who was the teacher of Michelangelo, circa 1485.

  7. Feathers were also used to display wealth in the fashion of European royalty. This 1530 painting by Cranach shows a Saxon princess in a very impressive ostrich feather hat.

    Feathers were also used to display wealth in the fashion of European royalty. This 1530 painting by Cranach shows a Saxon princess in a very impressive ostrich feather hat.

  8. It’s a week late, but here’s that promised update.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be focusing on winter clothing, a topic I’ve found to be very interesting, and not very well documented.
Dedicated winter clothing is a fairly recent innovation. Prior to the 18th century dressing for winter involved wearing more clothing as opposed to warmer clothing. Very layered clothing was topped with fur accessories for additional warmth.
If you look at the two ladies in the bottom right of this early 17th century (1610s or 20s) painting by Hendrick Avercamp you can see that, despite the obviously freezing weather, they both are sporting stylishly low cut décolletages and one is even wearing the standard women’s open-sided shoes of the era. Not exactly the warmest attire.
You also can see several women in the painting sporting black face masks, which were popular winter wear throughout the 17th and early 18th century.

    It’s a week late, but here’s that promised update.

    Over the next few weeks I’m going to be focusing on winter clothing, a topic I’ve found to be very interesting, and not very well documented.

    Dedicated winter clothing is a fairly recent innovation. Prior to the 18th century dressing for winter involved wearing more clothing as opposed to warmer clothing. Very layered clothing was topped with fur accessories for additional warmth.

    If you look at the two ladies in the bottom right of this early 17th century (1610s or 20s) painting by Hendrick Avercamp you can see that, despite the obviously freezing weather, they both are sporting stylishly low cut décolletages and one is even wearing the standard women’s open-sided shoes of the era. Not exactly the warmest attire.

    You also can see several women in the painting sporting black face masks, which were popular winter wear throughout the 17th and early 18th century.

  9. One thing that people of seem surprised by when it comes to fashion history is all the bright colors. Contrary to what history class would have you believe, the past was not in black in white.
To emphasize this, I thought it would be fun to do a “Rainbow Week” this week. Every day is going to focus on articles of clothing of one particular color, covering all historical eras. As the beginning is a very good place to start, today’s color will be RED.
Starting with this exceptionally beautiful corset, stays and stomacher that has amazingly survived for almost 400 years. Made between 1620 and 1640.

    One thing that people of seem surprised by when it comes to fashion history is all the bright colors. Contrary to what history class would have you believe, the past was not in black in white.

    To emphasize this, I thought it would be fun to do a “Rainbow Week” this week. Every day is going to focus on articles of clothing of one particular color, covering all historical eras. As the beginning is a very good place to start, today’s color will be RED.

    Starting with this exceptionally beautiful corset, stays and stomacher that has amazingly survived for almost 400 years. Made between 1620 and 1640.

  10. Another style of embroidered jacket, which appears to have developed around 1615, is a version with an extremely low décolletage most likely for evening wear. The above portrait of Isabella Rich was painted by William Larkin between 1614 and 1616.

    Another style of embroidered jacket, which appears to have developed around 1615, is a version with an extremely low décolletage most likely for evening wear. The above portrait of Isabella Rich was painted by William Larkin between 1614 and 1616.