17th Century Stitches: Shifts and Shirts
For most people in the 17th century, underwear consisted of a shift/smock or a shirt, it served as a way to protect outer clothing from sweat and body oils. It also supported the shape of the outer clothing, as seen here:
|Henry Rich, Earl of Holland c.1640-45. From the Captain Cristie Crawford Collection|
|Doublet, French 1620s. Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art. This differs from what would have been the English style, it is, however, a good example of how the clothing layers work together to create a shape.|
Through the earlier part of the 17th century the cut of the sleeves on both men's and women's outer garments was slimmer, therefore the sleeve fullness on their undergarments increased. As full sleeves became popular for outer-clothing, the sleeve fullness in the under-clothing also increased.
Shifts/smocks were made of linen, the more expensive being decorated with embroidery or lace insertion. They could have a high collar or a low neckline:
|Smock. V&A Museum|
|Smock 1615-1630. Image from V&A Museum|
Men's shirts were constructed in much the same way as woman's smocks, though often they were plainer:
|Shirt 1st half 16th Century. Source Unknown.|
|Shirt shoulder detail 1630-39. V&A Museum|
Next time I will be posting pictures of the doublets and bodices in progress.