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The History of Fashion Back to XVII Century

Thursday, 14 October 2010

fashion XVII centuryAs in any area of life where art is applied, fashion interacts with the society and is affected by the changes adopted in it. Fashion, on the whole, reveals the most historical epochs and events. Thus, the XVII century introduced the pretentiousness of royal ensembles from the opulent silk with embroidery and the simplicity of the Puritan attire at the same time.

The entire century was famous for the drastic change of fashion tendencies, as never in the history. The fashion of early XVII century dictated too fluffy gowns with high collar in many layers, high waistline and extremely puffed sleeves. The second half of the century the fashion undergone sea changes and wide gowns with higher waistline were replaced by slimmer upright silhouettes with the horizontal accent onto the shoulder line.

Wide and puffed sleeves that end at the elbow line or a bit lower became narrower and longer.  In the second half of the XVII century a girdle found the way to hearts of ladies which was a perfect tool to support the breast alluringly making it look higher and bigger and the waist- slimmer. In the end of the century a more fetching and seductive trend was set when the upper skirts were slightly rose revealing the petticoat usually embroidered and decorated with some details to enjoy.

In the end of the XVII century a new garment was introduced to find its niche for ever times, that is fur coat offered as the loose mantel letting down the shoulders to the floor. This caper was the nice substitute of traditional match of fluffy skirt and the tightly-fitted bodice. The new look was far more modest and reserved than the dresses with too open low neck and girdles. However, the new attire was also decorated with bows, bands and ruches.

Another innovation was introduced in the late XVII century. Since ladies of the high society in France and in England never yielded to men, going together with them to hunt or ride, the fashion designers created special attire for riding for them. Such ensembles were consisted of the special comfortable coats which resembled men’s coats to wear over the long petticoat to the ankle line. Those who criticized such innovations stated that the only thing to differ between men and women was the long skirt.

The early XVII century was known for the most fashionable fabric adopted at the royal courts and high society – the silk with the elegant floral embroidery. That period of the epoch was flourishing and favorable for the finest lace and all the attire for men and women were decorated with laced details. The liking for the floral motifs was not long-term, though and in 20s of the XVII century the lavish single-color satin replaced the laces, and the embroidery was substituted by bows and ribbons.

More modest and temperate types of fabric were used beyond the royal court and high society salons and women mainly wore clothes made from dyed flax or wool.

The XVII century was famous for the civil war in Great Britain and occurrence of new religious trends which were then demonstrated in fashion. In the early XVII century the royal court followed the delicate and lavish French style and a little bit later, with the flourishing or Puritanism, more temperate attires of darker shades were in.

The Protestant and Catholic churches both undertook the attempts to reduce the eccentricity of attires the high society accustomed to making it look plain. So, in the early '30s of the XVII century Louis XIII, the Queen of France, issued two acts of law forbidding clothes with laces and lavish embroidery for everyone apart from the noble persons. Also the use of ruches and bows was restricted to zero.

The Puritan church followers introduced the unpretentious dark colors into the fashion along with the mild cut. Yet, the cheering low neck was replaced by modest dresses with a higher collar and hats to cover the hair. Both men and women avoided clothes of vivid colors, glittering fabric and plenty of accessories.

The most trendy colors favored by puritanical and Genevan ladies included dark-brown, brown-to-red and dark-green. The black dresses were kept for special cases since the black dye was extremely expensive and quickly faded. There was nothing left from the complimentary silk and satin loved by French and English aristocrats in the clothes of Puritans. The most demanded fabric was wool and flax, and dresses were seldom trimmed with lace.

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