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Costume Quotes: Gentlemen


1644 Les Loix de la Galanterie

No one is more changeable than the French: sometimes their hats mount high, sometimes sink low, sometimes their basques are large, sometimes small, their breeches long or short: as to collars, out fathers wore small simple ones, while we began with circles of cardboard over which we laid a starched collar, after that we had a kind of unstarched cape which reached almost to the elbow, and then after that collars became smaller and of a reasonable size, though at the same time there were large tubular-pleated ruffs with enough linen in them to make sails of a windmill: now these are all discarded and our collars are so small that they are like sleeve cuffs. Wide bucket-tops are now only seen on heavy boots, the lighter boots worn today have dropped down to the spurs, and have only a peak in front and behind. As to the canons displayed above the boots - we like them very large and of fine starched lawn although they then resemble paper lanterns. And we like them even more ornate, of two or three layers of fine lawn or linen, and better still if they are trimmed with two or three rows of point de Gènes which should be the same as for the jabot. You know that ribbons and points are called la petite oye, and the opening of the shirt in front is called the jabot, and it must always be trimmed with lace, for it is only an old fogey who buttons his doublet all the way down. Let's go back to the boots: they must always be long in the foot even if that is extravagant and against nature. When high boots came into fashion, hats were worn with such high pointed crowns that a coin could cover the top, but that has suddenly changed and now they are low and round, but the long boots remain which shows how popular they are. Then the spurs - they must be of heavy silver, and you must keep changing their design without heeding the cost. Those who wear silk stockings should always have English ones, and the garters and the shoe rosettes should be as fashion dictates. There are certain small etceteras which cost little but show elegance (galanterie), as for example: placing in the hat a beautiful ribbon, gold or silver, sometimes mixed with coloured silk; and in front of the breeches seven or eight beautiful satin ribbons of the most brilliant colours possible. You might say that this display of trimmings turns your person into a shop exhibiting its wares, however, this is what is worn and this fashion of ribbon trimmings adds very much to the elegance of a man, and that is why they are called galants.

1662 Journal Dangeau

Once and for all I should explain what is a juste-au-corps à brevet. When the king (Louis XIV) was first in love with Mme. de la Valliere and no longer kept it secret, the Court was at Saint-Germain, and Versailles was still the small hunting-lodge built for Louis XIII. The king with a few friends used to go there once or twice a week to spend part of the day with Mme. de la Valliere, so he designed a blue coat, lined with red, and with a red waistcoat, both embroidered with a special design; he gave a dozen of them to those friends he allowed to accompany him on these little private visits to Versailles; only those who had such coats could go with him without first asking permission. Afterwards the number of these coats was extended to forty, but never exceeded that number; when one became vacant, the king granted the favour of wearing it by a brevet issued by the State Secretary of the King's Household, and from that it was called a juste-au-corps à brevet. They gave no special privileges or entries; their only distinction was that they could be worn during times of mourning and were allowed when gold and silver trimming on coats was prohibited.

1663 The Life and Times of Anthony Wood

A strange and effeminate age when men strive to imitate women in their apparell, viz. long periwigs, patches in their faces, painting, short wide breeches like petticoats, muffs, and their clothes highly scented, bedecked with ribbons of all colours.

1660-1666 Diary Samuel Pepys

1660. May 24. Up, and made myself as fine as I could, with the linning stockings on and wide canons that I bought the other day at Hague.
1661. April 6. Among other things met with Mr. Townsend, who told me of his mistake the other day, to put both his legs through one of his knees of his breeches, and went so all day.
1662. June 12. I tried on my riding-cloth suit with close knees, the first that I ever had; and I think they will be very convenient, if not too hot to wear any other open knees after them.
1663. May 9. At Mr. Jervas's, my old barber, I did try two or three borders and periwigs, meaning to wear one; and yet I have no stomach, but that the pains of keeping my hair clean is so great.
May 10. (Lord's day). Put on a black cloth suit with white lynings under all, as the fashion is to wear, to appear under the breeches.
Oct. 30. At my periwig-maker's, and there showed my wife the periwig made for me.
Nov. 2. I heard the Duke say that he was going to wear a periwig; and they say the King also will. I never till this day observed that the King is mighty gray.
Nov. 3. Home, and by and by comes Chapman, the periwig-maker, and upon my liking it, without more ado I went up, and there he cut off my hair, which went a little to my heart at present to part with it; but, it being over, and my periwig on, I paid him 3 pounds for it; and away went he, with my own hair, to make up another of it.
Nov. 8. (Lord's day). To church, where I found that my coming in a periwg did not prove so strange as I was afraid it would, for I thought that all the church would presently have cast their eyes all upon me, but I found no such thing.
1666. Oct. 8. The King hath yesterday in Council declared his resolution of setting a fashion for clothes, which he will never alter. It will be a vest, I know not well how; but it is to each the nobility thrift, and will do good.
Oct. 13. To White Hall, and there the Duke of York was just come in from hunting. So I stood and saw him dress himself, and try on his vest, which is the King's new fashion, and he will be in it for good and all on Monday next, and the whole Court: it is a fashion, the King says, he will never change.
Oct. 15. This day the King begins to put on his vest, and I did see several persons of the house of Lords and Commons too, great courtiers, who are in it; being a long cassocke close to the body, of black cloth, and pinked with white silk under it, and a coat over it, and the legs ruffled with black riband like a pigeon's leg: and, upon the whole, I wish the King may keep it, for it is a very fine and handsome garment.
Oct. 17. The Court is all full of vests, only my Lord St. Albans not pinked, but plain black; and they say the King says the pinking upon whites makes them look too much like magpies, and, therefore, hath bespoke one of plain velvet.
Nov. 4. (Lord's day). My taylor's man brings my vest home, and coat to wear with it, and belt and silver-hilted sword; so I rose and dressed myself, and I like myself mightily in it, and so do my wife... and so, it being very cold, to White Hall, and was mighty fearful of an ague, my vest being new and thin, and the coat cut not to meet before, upon my vest.

1666 Diary John Evelyn

Oct. 18. To court. It being the first time his majesty put himself solemnly into the Eastern fashion of vest, changeing doublet, stiff collar, bands and cloake, into a comely vest, after the persion mode, with girdle or straps, and shoe strings and garters into bouckles, of which some were set with precious stones, resolving never to alter it, and to leave the French mode, which had hitherto obtain'd to our greate expence and reproch. Upon which divers courtiers and gentlemen gave his majesty gold by way of wager that he would not persist in his resolution. I had sometime before presented an invective against that unconstancy, and our so much affecting the French fashion, to his majesty, in which I tooke occasion to describe the comliness and usefulness of the Persian clothing, in the very same manner his majesty now clad himselfe. This pamphlet I intitl'd Tyrannus, or the Mode, and gave it to his Majesty to reade. I do not impute to this discourse the change which soon happen'd, but it was an identity that I could not but take notice of.

1692 Journal Dangeau. Marriage of M. de Chartres and Mdlle. de Blois

Monsieur was in black velvet embroidered all over in gold and trimmed with rubies. The king had a coat of gold brocade embroidered with silver, and a strap of very large diamonds as a shoulder-knot, instead of the ribbon loops usually worn there. Monseigneur was in plain black velvet which enhanced the brilliance of the large diamonds which decorated it; they belonged to the Crown and were worth several millions.

1697 Journal Dangeau. Celebrations for the Marriage of Monseigneur le Duc du Bourgogne and Mme. la Princesse de Savoie.

On Wednesday, in the gallery at Versailles, there was the most magnificent ball that had ever been given at Court. Words fail to describe the richness and diversity of the clothes, they were so unimaginably brilliant that they dazzled the eyes. Monseigneur was in a cloth of gold, decorated with silver. The duc de Bourgogne was in black velvet, and the duc d'Anjou and the duc du Berry in coloured velvets, all three embroidered all over in gold and diamonds. Monsieur had the same suit as on the day of the wedding, it was superb, of black velvet with very wide gold embroidered froggings set close together, and large diamond buttons; his waistcoat was of gold and the rest of his apparel of the same splendour. M. de Chartres was very rich and elegant in cloth of gold trimmed with gold. Some of the courtiers had velvet suits, either embroidered or with ornamental froggings, others were in gold brocade. There were a few plain coats but most of them were embroidered, or had gold or silver lace. They all had very ornate shoulder-knots, the sleeves covered with gold and silver lace and ribbons, gloves also trimmed with ribbons, silk stockings of different colours with gold clocks, and ribbons in their shoes.

1714 The Spectator

August 16. The skirt of your fashionable coats forms as large a circumference as our petticoats; as these are set out with whalebone, so are those with wire, to encrease and sustain the bunch of folds that hangs down on each side, and the hat, I perceive is decreased in just proportion to our head-dresses.

First half of 18th century A Foreign View of England in the Reigns of George I and George II.  César de Saussure

I daresay it would interest you to hear of the style and the way Englishmen usually dress. They do not trouble themselves about dress, but leave that to their womenfolk. When the people see a well-dressed person in the streets, especially if he is wearing a braided coat, a plume in his hat, or his hair tied in a bow, he will, without a doubt, be called a 'French dog' twenty times perhaps before he reaches his destination. Englishmen are usually very plainly dressed, they scarcely ever wear gold on their clothes; they wear little coats called 'frocks', without facings and without pleats, with a short cape above. Almost all wear small round wigs, plain hats, and carry canes in their hands, but no swords. Their cloth and linen are of the best and finest. You will see rich merchants and gentlemen thus dressed and sometimes even noblemen of high rank, especially in the morning, walking through the filthy and muddy streets. The lower classes are usually well dressd, wearing good cloth and linen. Englishmen, however, are very lavish in other ways. They have splendid equipages and costly apparel when required. Peers and other persons of rank are richly dressed and when they go to Court, especially on gala days, when their grand coaches, with their magnificent accoutrements are used... The Quaker's mode of dressing is as curious as is their language; the men wear large, unlooped, flapping hats, without buttons or loops; their coats are as plain as possible, with no pleatings or trimmings, and no buttons or button-holes on the sleeves, pockets, or waists. If any brother were to wear ruffles to his shirt or powder in his hair, he would be considered impious. The most austere and zealous do not even wear shoebuckles, but tie their shoes with cords... Quakers' clothes, though of the simplest and plainest cut, are of excellent quality; their hats, clothes, and linen are of the finest.

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