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The 1660s
Restoration Costume Comes to Life

Part 1, Page 4: Working Class Men

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
Lower Class Women and Men Gentry and Aristocracy, Women Gentry and Aristocracy, Men The Whole Look: Accessories Costume Focus: Women's Headwear & Neckwear

The same is valid for men as it is for women but in regard to fashionable attire perhaps to a lesser extent. As you will see on the next page with its gallery, men tended to be even ore old fashioned. It probably had to do with the fact that long hose were more comfortable and convenient for working as a farmer than breeches.

Information on fabrics and available colours for the common people is important, to be able to take the step in the next lesson towards the affluent classes.

Fabrics used in the period can be divided into two main categories, wool and linen with some combination materials and a small amount of silk and even cotton at this social level. The higher levels of society would wear in the 1660s a vast amount of silks, it is the time before brocades became most fashionable at the decade of smooth and stiff silk taffetas. The vast majority of textiles, may it be cheap or expensive ones, would have been produced commercially. Large scale sheep farmers in England were selling their fleece to merchants who moved it to other areas of the country for processing. Looms were large pieces of equipment requiring space and weaving was a more or less full time occupation. It was very often done in the home though but those people were still full time weaving, though domestically for an outside market. There is little indication from farm inventories of farmers growing hemp or flax and much of the linen used was imported from Scotland or the continent as can be seen in such names as Scottish, Osnaburg, Camric (Cambray), Holland etc.

Woollen Fabrics

Frieze and Rugs
Commonly mentioned in connection with gowns on this and used for the outer layer and skirts. Frieze was produced in different qualities, with the cheapest coarse, but since it was thicked and fulled, a very warm fabric, and the most expensive one being fine and very fashionable, as according to Thomas Fuller in his The History of the Worthies of England from 1662.

Often referred to as worn by the poorer classes both by men and women, on account of durability more than on price. Nowadays serge is a very durable twilled cloth of worsted. Fuller mentions:

"Taunton serges are eminent in their kind, being a fashionable wearing, as lighter than cloth, yet thicker than many other stuff."

Sayes and Bayes
A coarse woollen stuff having a long nap nowadays. In the 17th century it was made of finer and lighter texture and used as clothing material.

Heavy worsted cloth similar to baize.

A general term applied to a variety of woollen fabrics certainly including bays and says and serges.

There was a variety of specifications for cloth, used generally for outer garments and similar to greatcoat or modern day duffel coat weights. There appears little evidence for use of broadcloth in women's clothing which is generally of lighter wool or linen material. Cloaks may be an exception.

There are two meanings to the word. One is a homespun cloth, the other a reddish brown or grey colour. It should be emphasised that this is homespun and not home woven. Many paintings show women at home at the spinning wheel, but none show them weaving. Spinning was apparently not done anywhere else but in the home. The lower class the household was the more likely that spinning was done commercially to supply merchants and thus supplement the income. It is probable that russet was not a specific type but more a generic feel for a style of cloth.

Kersies were a kind of coarse narrow cloth, woven from long wool and usually ribbed. This was a good quality cloth to the lower classes and probably used for their best clothes.

Welsh made woollen fabric made of woollen yarn slightly twisted and-open textured, plain or twill weave.

Fustians are combination fabrics and made in Lancashire. Cotton, wool or yarn brought from overseas, cloth used by poor people for their outsides and by their betters for linings according to Fuller.


Housewife Cloth
Linen cloth that is made in England and of many varieties and qualities. It is the usual linen that a servant or working person would buy.

Holland came in various types as well and was imported from the low countries. Fleazey was a strong but soft cloth much used for shirts, forehead cloths and handkerchiefs.
Cambric and cambric lawn were the best and finest linens.

Made from hemp it was used to make shirts.

A strong cloth made originally from hemp.

A coarse cloth of linen or hemp stiffened with seize, used in garments to keep them in shape. Not to be mistaken with the modern day buckram for millinery, which is much too stiff.

A term applied to various kinds of silks and linens although it originally meant only the weave.

Used rarely for aprons and bedding. The strongly coloured aprons in the paintings may be made from this.

Fabric Colours
The principle bulk dyes for cloth were woad for blue, madder for red and weld or dyers broom for yellow and oak galls for black. Grey and white were often undyed. Linens were usually bleached, which can be seen in a painting from the period which depicts a village's bleaching lawn with all the linens spread out in the sun. Some conclusions can be drawn about colour, particularly when studying period paintings. There is a great amount of certain colours like red and blue, as well as browns, which did not have to be dyed.

Buttons were made in a variety of ways. Cast pewter buttons were hollow and usually round and domed. A second variety is made from scraps of cloth, a small piece is rolled into a ball and covered by a second piece. A metal shank may be inserted but these buttons do last well even when merely sewn onto the garment. A third alternative is a wooden bead but they are losing importance in this period.

Evidence from Irish bog burials shows that linen and woollen sewing threads were used.

mentioning of fur occurs only occasionally and when it does the hulk of it is rabbit fur All the women's jackets which are fur edged seem to be using rabbit fur. White being the favourite colour.


Lower Class Women | Lower Class Women Study Gallery
Lower Class Men | Lower Class Men Study Gallery

Nicole Kipar 1998