Restoration Review 1660-c. 1710 (Part 1)

Early Restoration-Men

Restoration doublets take on a "shrunken" appearance. Sleeves, length, and even the ability to button diminish. As a result, much more of the shirt becomes exposed, and the doublet is left looking more like a bolero.

As in the Cavalier period, the shirt continues to take on a more prominent role as a visible part of the ensemble. As the ruff disappears altogether, shirt collars (growing in size) are pulled out and displayed on top of the doublet. Edges become decorated with lace. In this image the bulk of the collar begins to move forward, under the chin. It has a bib like quality. As the period progresses, collars narrow and are eventually replaced by early versions of the cravat (a linen or silk scarf, generally in white, that ties around the neck. The cravat eventually evolves into the modern man's tie).

This young man is also wearing a new fad--rhinegraves (AKA petticoat breeches). These are closer to modern day culottes than a skirt or bases of the Tudor period. They are a wide legged bifurcated garment. A favorite of King Louis XIV of France, these breeches are often seen bedecked in ribbons and bows. King Louis was fond of accessive decoration, and is often accused of attaching ribbons to any surface that would support them.

This doublet and petticoat breeches feature some intense ribbon decoration. This sort of excess would very much please King Louis XIV. The ribbons on this particular suit are made of silk and silver.

This gentleman is a fine example of fashionable dress highly influenced by plain dress. In the early days of the Restoration, alliances to the throne or Parliment were strongly communicated through clothing. This man's ensemble puts forth mixed messages as to who he was.

For example, the lack of excessive decoration, the sombre color, and the capotain suggest that this gentleman was a follower of Cromwell. His longer hair, the fine construction and silhouette of his garments (namely the "shrunken" doublet and rhinegraves), his shoe and knee bows, and the crispness of his appearance suggest that he has ample wealth and an interest in fashion.

I make the assumption that he is a member of one of the wealthier classes based on these clues. He is chosing to dress this way, communicating his religious/politcal views to his society. He is likely a believer in the tenants of the Puritan culture.

The painting is entitled Man in Black. Gerard Ter Borch (the artist) left few clues other than a detailed study of his clothing.

The wearing of wigs comes into practice during the 17th century. It is suspected that this is a reflection of the fact that Louis XIV went bald and he, out of vanity, took up the practice in maintenance of his appearance.

Nonetheless, men begin cropping their hair short (or shaving it off altogether) and adopt large flowing tresses. By the end of the period, some of these wigs are powdered. However, natural colors are almost universally favored for most of the Restoration.

Notice the excessive ribbon decoration in this portrait. The ruffles of lace at his throat is evidence of the cravat's evolution.

In 1666, Charles II--newly restored King of England--adopts a new style of dress that costume historians claim is the origin of the modern day 3 peice suit.

It featured a long, collarless, sleeved coat (called a justacorps or surtout). Under this was worn a waistcoat which was cut in a similar line as the justacorps. It, too, was sleeved. (The shirt was worn underneath the waistcoat). The hem was a few inches shorter than the coat under which it would be worn. The breeches that accompanied this ensemble were narrow, but not tight. They tapered toward the knee. When the justacorps was buttoned from neck to hem (which it had the ability to do), the waistcoat was completely hidden. Breeches peeked out just below the hem. Buttons spaced so closely that they were nearly touching one another was a very common decorative feature.

Charles II vowed that he would wear this style of dress until he passed from this earth. He, of course, did not stay completely true to this vow. However, his influence over men's wear is felt through the remainder of costume history. From this point forward, France is no longer the European fashion leader for men's wear. England is in the spot light.

Late Restoration-Men

The justacorps, waistcoat, and breeches ensemble becomes the dominant male silhouette. Lace trim, embroidery, and other forms of excessive decoration can still be found amongst the wealthy. However, the overall silhouette is much more contained and masculine when compared with that of the early Restoration. It is as if fashions explode with excessiveness and fluff in the wake of the Restoration--an expression of personal freedoms. As we enter the later part of the period, that excitement sobers up. Europe is getting "back to business."

Through the remainder of the 17th and into the 18th centuries, France will follow the lines of the male silhouette, but will always go much further with decoration--lace, embroidery, ribbons, etc. The French male silhouette will always appear a bit more feminine than that of the English.

Wigs are becoming the dominant head dressing amongst fashionable men. They grow to such heights, that it becomes difficult to wear hats, although etiquette encourages one to do so. It becomes common practice to carry one's hat beneath one arm as a polite option. Hats intended for this purpose are callled chapeau bras. They were hats with a slightly flatttened crown as they were not meant to be worn, but carried under one arm. The gentleman on the left below carries one.

Both of these men are wearing their justacorps open down center front, revealing their waistcoat. Notice the large cuffs--much wider than the sleeve themselves. This becomes a common feature of the justacorps. Sleeve lengths terminate well before the wrist, leaving ruffles on the shirt exposed. Notice pocket placement as well. They are often placed only a few inches from the hem of the coat. These are also Restoration traits.

The gentleman at the right has a rather large muff suspended from his waist. The muff was a common accessory for both men and women during this area. They are generally made of fur, and provide a place for the hands to slip inside for warmth.

Both men wear high heeled shoes with square-ish toes and a tall vamp (or tongue).

This gentleman appears an old fashioned styled when compared to contempory images, especially when presented with the fact that this portrait was painted in 1721 (11 years following the close of the period we consider Restoration). It is, once again, evidence of the fact that people hold on to what they like despite fashion trends. The extremely powdered wig and cravat are practically the only 18th century influences at work here. The rest of his attire is characteristic of styles 50-60 years prior. He is yet another fashion anomaly--of which I seem to be growing fond.

I, personally, find it remarkable that at this point in history fashions that I would consider to be more feminine (rhinegraves, the bolero style doublet, and blousey shirt) are the choices for conservative attire. While the more rigid, regimented line (coat, waistcoat, breeches) is considered cutting edge fashion. It is an interesting game that context plays.

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