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The female coiffure of this day, as will be seen by the picture annexed, had greatly changed; it was three-cornered on the face, and in form not unlike a church porch; it fell over the shoulders behind, and had long lappets reaching to the waist.
But there were many other head-dresses introduced during this reign. The hair usually fell in all its luxuriance down the back, unfettered by comb or fillet, and very beautiful were the long fair ringlets of many of the dames and maidens of Britain, are not unlike ornamented turbans; others resemble the capuchon worn by the men; and others, again, are round and pointed, but not high. So various and so strange were many of these head-dresses, that we may almost imagine Fashion was at this time amusing her own fancies at the expense of her votaries, and forcing her followers to render themselves ridiculous, and even ugly, to shew her power over them.
The waists of the robes were now made so as to pinch in the figure; they were cut square over the bosom, or reached to the throat, and were confined by a girdle, or belt, with a splendid ornament in front, terminated with a cordelidre and tassel. The petticoats, or kirtles, were full, but without trains, and usually had a coloured border round the bottom. The sleeves were as various as the coiffures; sometimes they were
Some of the coiffures very full, and held in at the wrist by a narrow band, or the fulness confined into two or three large puffs down the arm; some, however, were left quite loose, and hanging, not unlike those worn a few years since in England, and they were not unfrequently trimmed with a border to match the bottom of the robe.
Elizabeth, queen of Henry the Seventh, wore a splendid dress the day before her coronation. It is described in Cotton's manuscript, and consisted "of a mantle of white cloth of gold damask, furred with ermines, fastened on her breast with a large lace curiously wrought with gold and silk, with rich knoppes of gold at the end tasselled." On the day of her nuptials, the same queen wore, according to Leland, her long fair hair hanging down her back, with "a calle of pipes over it."
"At the close of the fifteenth century," says Strutt, "the dress of the English was exceedingly fantastical and absurd." How often may not this phrase be repeated when diving into the annals of the toilette of both men and women!
To begin with the head, the hair was parted back from the forehead, and fell in long-flowing ringlets upon the shoulders, which made the warriors of that day look very effeminate, particularly as the face was divested of beard, whiskers, and moustaches; which latter appendages to the upper lip were never seen but on the faces of the aged.
As a covering to the curling locks, velvet caps were worn, with such towers of plumes of different colours standing upright from the head, or negligently drooping over one side, that they appeared at a distance like a forest of pine-trees waving beneath a summer breeze. Those gallants who did not approve of these splendid head-dresses wore broad felt or fur hats; and the hood, so favourite a covering for the head ever since the reign of Edward the Third, now nearly disappeared.
Slashed garments were very much worn; the sleeves, particularly, were covered with puffings and ornaments. The shirts, too, were embroidered in silk, and had full long sleeves of fine linen, which were seen below the upper sleeve of the doublet. In this reign, an old author says, gentlemen wore "petty cottes, doublettes, long cottes, stomachers, hozen, socks, shoen."
The fashion of wearing broad shoes, which commenced in the preceding reign, was now very prevalent; their appearance was most ridiculous, the more so from their contrast to the late peaked ones; and they must have been very uncomfortable to the wearer. It is asserted that they were first brought into England from Holland.
The upper part of the chausses, or hosen, was now beginning to be formed of a different material and colour from the lower part, and was frequently puffed with satin, like the doublet, and gaily embroidered.
On the day of his coronation, Henry the Eighth's dress was splendid in the extreme. His coat was literally embossed with gold; the placardo covered with every kind of precious stone; the bawdrech on his neck with balesses, and the mantle of crimson velvet was lined with ermine. His queen wore a long gown of embroidered white satin, and her hair, like that of Queen Anne, hung down her back.
A great many authors appear to have written upon dress during this reign, for even the clergy had caught the fashionable infection, though some chroniclers assert that they did not attempt to wear silk and embroidery till Cardinal Wolsey set them the example. Authors of that, and indeed later periods, wrote much and strongly against the prevalence of confounding the different degrees of society, by allowing all ranks to wear the same dress; much also was preached, written, and said, against "pride of hair," as an ancient author termed the profusion of hair worn at this time, and the extravagant manner in which it was "plaited, braided, bowed, and combed."
Henry the Eighth is represented in an old picture, at the time of his interview with Francis the First, when bothmonarchs displayed every kind of magnificence and extravagance, as habited in a garment composed of cloth of gold, over a jacket of rose-coloured velvet. His collar was composed of rubies and pearls, set in alternate rows, and on his breast hung a rich jewel of St. George, suspended by a riband. His boots were of yellow leather, and his hat of black velvet, with a white feather turning over the brim, and beneath it a broad band of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, mixed with pearls. His pages were splendidly attired in crimson, with the union Rose embroidered on the back of the doublet, between a dragon and a greyhound. Their breeches and sleeves also were slashed, and curiously puffed out with fine cambric, and they had white stockings and shoes.
The exact time when ruffs were first worn is not known. It is said they were invented by a Spanish lady, to hide a wen upon her neck; it is, however, certain that they were much in fashion in the reign of Henry the Eighth, and flourished greatly through this and several succeeding reigns.
The doublet was now worn with slashes and cuts, and the waistband, reaching just below the arm-pits, had eight kinds of skirts appended to it.
In a picture by Holbein of the lovely but unfortunate Anne Boleyn, we see the dress she wore on the day she became Queen of England. It is much the same as the one we have described as worn by Elizabeth. Stowe gives the following account of another, in which she appeared about that time: "Then," says he, "proceeded forth the queene, in a circote and robe of purple velvet, furred with ermine, in her hayre coife and circlet. After her followed ladies, being lords' wives, which had circotes of scarlet, with narrow sleeves, the breast all lettice, with barres of pouders, according to their degrees; and over that they had mantles of scarlet, furred, and every mantle had lettice about the necke,