I have this headcanon that england was super into neck ruffs, but france thought that they were gaudy, so it was the only time england was ever more fashionable than france ( this isn't historically accurate obviously, but when has hetalia ever cared about that?) bonus points for elizabeth I and england bonding over neck ruffs, also england with poofy pants (you know the ones I'm talking about )
A coloring of John Dee’s Hieroglyphicon Britanicon, from the frontispiece to Rare and General Memorials, pertayning the Perfect Arte of Navigation (written in 1577 - 1578). It was designed to urge Queen Elizabeth to pursue the colonization of North America. There’s a great breakdown of the symbols Dee employed in Jim Egan’s Elizabethan America, from Cosmopolite Press.
The image depicts a sequence of events concerning John Dee’s proposed British Empire and the colonization of North America (which Dee refers to as “Atlantis” on his maps). A common woman on her knees pleads in Greek to Queen Elizabeth (who is joined by Europa and her bull, Zeus) to “Send forth a sailing expedition,” and the banner to her left continues, “to build a steadfast watch-post.” The river depicted represents The John Dee River (which is now called Narragansett Bay), and it is occupied by five ships representing the Cinque Ports, Elizabeth’s naval force. Below the ships, new colonies prosper with trade, well guarded by watchmen to the left.
In the skies above, YHWH is written in Hebrew, the concept represented as an emanating glory of rays distinct from the sun, moon and stars. The archangel Michael (again labeled in Hebrew) flies overhead; Egan asserts that Michael was inserted as clue towards the location of the proposed colony, as Michael’s numerical value in the Shemhamphorasch is 42, and Dee’s world map placed Rhode Island at 42 degrees latitude north of the equator, and 42 degrees longitude west of the Prime Meridian.
Below Michael stands a statue of Lady Occasion (a British, female Caerus figure) with a laureled wreath extended towards Queen Elizabeth. She stands upon a tetrahedron, the fundamental building block of the geometer’s universe; John Dee has an especial affinity for triangles, and used the Greek letter Delta to sign his own name.
There is far more going on in his Hieroglyphic illustration; Dee was a master of riddles and puzzles. The Latin banner which accompanies the original frontispiece states: “Plura latent quam patent,” which Egan translates as “More is hidden than is out in the open.”
It’s FRIDAY FASHION FACT! Normally in these posts, I focus on a specific fashion trend. But today
I’m taking a step back and discussing an era as a whole. Elizabethan
fashion is incredibly distinct and iconic. When you mention fashion
history to someone, Elizabethan dress is often one of the first things
they think of. This is thanks in no small part to the infamous monarch
herself and thriving empire she ruled, and, of course, Shakespeare. But
how did such a unique fashion come into existence? Let’s break it down
piece by piece.
First of all, it is important to
note that all the trends I discuss today were popular for both men and
women. It will come as no shock when I tell you that just about every
piece of Elizabethan fashion developed out of a desire to show off
personal wealth and status. Just like nearly every other fashion trend
throughout history (particularly pre-20th Century.) The most iconic
piece of Elizabethan fashion is without a doubt the ruff, but since I
did a separate post on that a while back (read here) I’m going to skip
over it today.
The base of the opulent Elizabethan look was the
fabric itself. Heavy silk brocades and velvets were the preferred
style, and by far the most expensive. Silk, which was expensive to start
with because of how it is made, had an added expense in England because
it had to be imported. In fact, the queen complained that too much money was leaving the land to purchase fine fabrics abroad. Velvet needed more silk to create it due to
it’s pile (thickness) adding more to its cost. To make these
already expensive fabrics even more costly, they were often covered in
intricate embroidery, all done by hand, often using precious metal thread. Further embellishment was added with beading, for which using real pearls was highly desired.
These luxurious fabrics and elaborations needed a vast canvas to be displayed upon. Sleeves became larger, skirts
became wider, hose (men’s trousers) became fuller. Additionally, layers
of clothing became fashionable, meaning even more fine fabrics. This
brings us to the next major trend in Elizabethan fashion- slashing. As I
have mentioned in past posts, due to the high cost of textiles, clothing would
often be altered and remade over and over to save on costs. However, if
only small strips of fabric were left, they could not be remade.
Sleeves and hose would commonly be made out of narrow panels, while petticoats
and doublets would be decoratively cut and slashed, almost perforated.
This rendered the fabric difficult to reuse, showing that the wearer was
wealthy enough to always purchase new. Additionally, all of these gaps
in garments allowed for the fabric beneath to be shown off.
final iconic aspect of Elizabethan dress was padding. Women would wear
padded rolls at their shoulders. These prominent accents would be
bedecked in embellishments such as ribbons, beading, and even jewels.
More padding was added around their hips, offsetting their long, conical
bodices. Even men got in on the padding trend, adding thickness to their stomachs in a style known as the peascod belly. That’s right, Elizabethans were way ahead of the dad-bod trend (of course, in this instance it was more about showing that they had the ability to eat well.) All of this was in addition to the puffed-out sleeves.
extreme fullness and the incredibly heavy fashions would fade out of
fashion over the next several decades, however showing off wealth
remained just as popular. It was merely done in a more delicate manor.
Yet it is that bold, heavy look which makes Elizabethan fashion so
Have a question about fashion history that you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!
Here are three examples of “ruffs”, worn during the Elizabethan era. While my examples only depict women, ruffs were worn by both women and men of every age. The ruff began life as a small little bit of fabric worn at the neck on a chemise, or shirt, on a drawstring collar. As people back in the smelly day rarely bathed, the ruff served as a removable piece that could be washed often while keeping the rest of one’s outfit clean.
As you can see, the ruff inflated like a child’s balloon to enormous proportion as what started as a practical piece of clothing turned into a fashion statement for the royal court, using yards upon yards of fabric to make.
Little did they know that veterinarians would one day use their design to create the “cone of shame” loathed by dogs the world over!