Tuesday, November 17, 2009

HOSE ME DOWN : THE MEN - or - Why I Love My Cod Piece ( part III)

Now back to the men………

Pants were actually not a men’s fashion staple until after the 18th century, developing from the hose and breeches that men wore in the 15th through 18th centuries and even before that, tunics.

12th century tunics were about knee-length, and men often wore loose-fitting above-knee cloth hose underneath that fastened to drawers or were held in place by leg bands. By about 1350, the hose became progressively tighter and even more fitted, and rose in length as the tunic shortened in length (!) (see tunic at left)

(Below right, men's earlier longer-length tunics)

The shortened tunic eventually rose all the way to become the snug-fitting buttoned jacket called a doublet that was worn from the late 14th century to the mid 17th century. Like many of today’s fashions, doublets were originally considered an undergarment:  in Medieval times they were worn UNDER a tunic, only to ultimately become outerwear, not unlike many contemporary fashion trends!  

Re-capping parts of our first “Hose me Down” installment:
.  during the early Medieval period, “breeches” meant drawers, hose or underpants.

.  up to the 16th century, the word "breeches” evolved into referring to both the outer garments AND undergarments.

.  finally in the 16th century, the word “ hose”, (or “hosen”) separated into two garments: upper hose or breeches and nether hose or stockings - thus “ breeches” finally came to describe the knee-length outer garments worn by men. Again, a reflection of how inner garments became fashionable outer garments!

The doublet (seen at right) was a padded garment for the upper body that narrowed at the waist, often had matching sleeves tied at the shoulders by points and often flared at the hips to accentuate the man’s “ideal figure” at the time (hips were “IN!”). They attached by ties to breeches (which extended beyond the knee) and trunk hose (only as high as the mid-thigh).

In the 15th century, gentlemen could not catch even a glimpse of ladies' stockings but ladies happily had an unobstructed view of men’s hosed legs up to the top of their thigh, so men had to make their legs as attractive as possible. Doublets became shorter and tighter, and hose grew so much longer and higher that they ultimately had to be refitted for modesty by the attachment of  a codpiece (see below left)

By the end of the 15th century, the long, tightly-worn hose became slightly puffed above the knee: they were stuffed with hair, rags or bran - padded and ballooned in size in order to stand puffed outward, like pumpkins. (see example below, worn with a flared doublet) Shorter versions of men’s hose were also padded, since not only hips but GIRTH was fashionably de rigeur at the time. 

 Even codpieces, which started out as a flap of fabric, grew in size to more “stylishly grander proportions” as the 16th century progressed.  

Henry VIII of England began padding his own codpiece, which caused a spiraling trend of larger and larger codpieces that only ended by the end of the 16th century. 

Legend has it that  men of greater rank needed extra bleachers in the House of Parliament to accommodate the lords’ increasingly fashionable girth!

Henry VIII was THE sartorial animal, in 1519 said to be the best dressed sovereign in the world according to  Sebastiano Guistinian , the Venetian ambassador at the  time.  Records show that he was a compulsive buyer, who constantly changed his attire. (below, Henry VIII, with his royal codpiece)

In 1516 alone, he bought 175 pairs of satin shoes, velvet slippers, and leather boots, wooing his women with his purple and crimson stockings made for him of yard-wide silk taffeta. Alas, woven silk had far less stretch than woven wool or knit, thus conformed less to the leg and were less comfortable to wear.

At the time, the finest needles were being produced in Spain and Italy, allowing for more elegantly detailed work. Stocking importer and founder of the Royal Exchange, Sir Thomas Greshman,  presented  Henry VIII  a "payre of long Spanish silke stockings, a luxurious article of raiment." as a gift.  At the time, this was a gift as worthy of a monarch’s acceptance as a monarch being given a jeweled crown today.  Henry VIII  became the first sovereign of England ever to wear a pair of knitted silk stockings.

Women, of course, became positively mad for silk stockings! In Erondell's 1605 book The French Garden  “for English Ladyes and Gentlewomen” written in dialogue form,  Lady Ri-Melaine call
"where be my stockens? Give me some clean sockes, I will have no woorsted hosen, showe me my Carnation silk stockins" 

Stockings were even buried with their royal owners:  1562, Eleanora of Toledo’s (see her at right) stockings were buried with her in her in her tomb and in 1603, two pair of stockings were found in the tomb of Duke Barnium XII of Brandenburg, Germany.

One of the writers of the pamphlets commonly distributed in 16th century England was a Londoner named Philip Stubbes (1555-1610). He was a Oxford and Cambridge-educated strict Puritan who castigated social practices of the time that were unfit for “true Christians”. His 1580's periodical  “ Anatomie of Abuses”  was critical of the Elizabethan fashions, habits and sexual mores of the time, and included  a tart tirade against what he considered the shameful and costly craze of buying increasingly sheer and fancy stockings.

"the time hath beene when one might have clothed all his body well for lesse then a pair of these neither-stocks wil cost."

...and then continued his tirade against the folly of silk hose

"…then have they nether-stocks to these gay hosen, not of cloth (though never so fine) for that is thought to (be) base, but of …silk thred, and such like”

Castigating the women in particular, his periodical raved:

"… yes, they are not ashamed to wear hose of all kinds of changeable colours, as green, red, white, russet, tawny, and else what not. These thin delicate hosen must be cunningly knit and curiously indented in every point with quirks, clocks, open seams, and everything else accordingly."

copyright © 2009 by helen uffner

...next installment of Hose Me Down coming soon!

..and in the meantime, below is a typical meal at Uffner Vintage (featuring Allyn and Helen): lobster (courtesy of a thankful client), anything having to do with chocolate (a gift from a fan of HUVC...thanks, Joe!!!!), flowers (yet another gift from same fan) and a great sunset (a gift from nature)!



1 comment:

nora said...

i love the article, and congrats on getting it published!
hope to see you guys soon.