peascod

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Italian Decorated Parade Armour of King Philip III of Spain from 1585 on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

From top to bottom, the Burgonet, breastplate and gauntlets comes from a a series presented to the Spanish royal family in the 1580′s. Tailor-made parade armour was iron clothing: the pointed ‘peascod’ breastplate imitated fashionable doublets. Draped with fine silk sashes and with helmets sprouting plumes of ostrich feathers. Such armour was for effect and display rather than protection in battle. Inspired by ancient Roman armour it transformed Renaissance nobles into classical heroes.

anonymous asked:

In Twelfth Night, do you think Sebastian and Viola are supposed to be teenagers? They talk about how their father died when Viola was thirteen (so of course Sebastian had to be thirteen as well), and it's never specified how much time has passed between their father's death and their shipwreck on Illyria.

Very likely. Even granting that Viola looks quite young in her disguise because of her feminine features, Orsino keeps emphasising Cesario’s youth with comments like –  ‘they shall yet belie thy happy years / That say thou art a man’ (1.4.29-304) – and Malvolio calls Cesario a ‘young fellow’ (1.5.133), going on to say that Cesario is ‘Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy: as a squash is before ’tis a peascod, or a codling when ’tis almost an apple. ’Tis with him in standing water between boy and man’ (1.5.150–3): a description of teenagehood if ever I saw one. But given that Orsino doesn’t think it strange that Cesario might be in love – ‘young though thou art thine eye / Hath stayed upon some favour that it loves’ (2.4.21-22) – it seems likely that Cesario is not such a young teenager, perhaps about 16-18. Once again, one could ascribe comments about Cesario’s youth to the fact that it is Viola in disguise, and therefore that her femininity gives her a youthfulness, but the fact that Sebastian must look just like her does rather suggest that they both look as young as one another. 

Aside from that those very telling comments, one can infer that the twins must be relatively young given that Viola can pass as a ‘boy’ (which could be up to about 20 years in the Early Modern Period, generally speaking) and from the fact that Sebastian must look relatively feminine. Of course, the fact that he looks feminine doesn’t necessarily mean he’s young, but it is quite likely that he might be an adolescent whose beard hasn’t come through very strongly yet (which makes it more understandable that he can be mistaken for Viola, who probably has no natural beard).

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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.

The 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.

This 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 iconic.

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!