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To the Point (points-wise)

*squeak*flail* ouch.  Don't mind me; I'm just pissy because my arms won't stop being grumpy.

So, I've been having this discussion with kass_rants in my recent entries' comments sections (previous two entries - we got a bit silly by the end) about petticoat fastenings, as a result of her asking where I got my info. Having to admit that it's speculative, and based on what the Jamestown Settlement costume department told me years ago, has made me admit that I now have to paw through all my books in a vain attempt to actually find something concrete.

Kass and I have been bouncing ideas off each other since yesterday, and my current working theory (subject to amendment) is that women's petticoat fastenings laced closed with points, rather than using sewn-on tape ties. I've been using this method for a while, and it works champion, but I have no proof to back it up (other than "J'town done told me, and it makes sense"), since we (so far - anyone feel like robbing some graves?) don't have a petticoat from that era with an original waistband.  Kass points out that it makes theoretical sense that women's clothing fastenings would echo men's of the same era.

Working from this, we theorized that since the petticoat was held up around the rest of the waist by points attached to the bodies/doublet (this is pretty much a known thing; both surviving boned bodies have lacing holes at the waist on the side and in the back, and there are quite a few pictures of women with visible points at the waistband of their doublets), then maybe the opening of the skirt is not actually laced to itself, but laced together with the lacing that goes up the front (or back) of the bodies - so that it does something like this:

   
(1.  Diagram of one side of lacing; inside view.)   (2.  Diagram lineup of petticoat and bodies; circled in red.)

As far as making the style work, it fits all the criteria; it makes use of the lacing holes around the bodies, and doesn't cause any lumps or awkward visible points. And it uses points - which we, as re-enactors, do not do nearly enough (barely at all - even I've only done two outfits with working points, one for me, and one for Bob).

So, I did a search last night of about a quarter of my books (all I had time for), mainly the Dutch ones, since they show the most middle and lower class people.

They're all wearing aprons, dammit. This is not helpful.

They did often wear petticoat bodies, but they didn't always; the beautiful Jan Steen painting "Couple in a Bed" shows a gorgeous silk taffeta skirt and separate bodies lying on a chair, and the separate (and very narrow, btw) waistband of the petticoat can clearly be seen (but no fastenings, dammit). Yes, this is 1668-1670, I know, but the petticoat and bodies are very similar to the same pettiocat and bodies they were wearing a half century before. There really aren't many 16th century pictures of people en dishabille, with their clothes artfully strewn about, except for the Countess of Southampton - everyone else naked or half naked is usually a symbolic/deity/Biblical figure.

However, our Countess is quite helpful, in her own way - you can clearly see the points on her bodies, and they come around at roughly waist height (taking into account the long waist that was fashionable at that time, and which would have been exaggerated by the painter), until the bodies start to come to a point. In the center front, there are no visible points, so it might be possible that the clearly separate petticoat she is wearing underneath the bodies is fastened by lacing the skirt to the bodies with the front lace.

There are also some engravings by Crispijn de Passe the Elder, which, while not really showing lacing points, do seem to show bodies that are separate from the petticoats, such as in this engraving, where the apron really seems to be tucked under the bodies, as the front point on the left side is sitting over the apron.

It's a theory, anyway. I need to do a lot more research, as I've barely scratched the surface of available images, and still have a bunch of my own books to peruse. 

Good times, eh?  I definitely want to put petticoat points on my bodies that I'm wearing this weekend (I can do them tonight) - I've already done a wild point sleeve treatment that leaves me with a bunch of white bows at the shoulder, so this shouldn't be too much more outrageous.  I'll take pictures anyway.

Comments

kass_rants
Apr. 30th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
To close the petticotes? Or to point to the bodys?

You see, there are men's breeches that hook into their doublets rather than tie. But these don't come around until the 1620s or 1630s. Hooks are a lot less maleable than ties and they don't seem to have lasted very long before men stopped attaching breeches to anything (this change happened in the mid-1640s and may have had something to do with the English Civil War and supplies to soldiers). But I don't have anything to support women hooking their petticotes into their bodys. Well, not until the 1670s...

I have closed petticotes with hooks and eyes and I'll tell you my one beef with it as a period closure method: it's too static. It doesn't allow the gaining and losing of weight that laces or ties allow women.

We don't have any extant petticotes from the period, so we cannot say for certain. But it doesn't sound likely.

Personally, I've used hooks and eyes to close my petticote waistbands, but I stopped using that method when I found out about ties and I've been much more comfortable since (especially when I gain or lose a couple of pounds).

Hooks and eyes are documentable on men's clothing as far back as the third quarter of the 15th century. And of course they are present on the early 17th century "English Jackets". But on petticotes, they don't seem likely to me.
gwacie
Apr. 30th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
Hooks and eyes
The Portrait of Machtelt Suijs, (by Maerten van Heemskerck (Dutch, 1498 - 1574) c. 1540-1545 ) in the Cleveland Museum of art clearly (at least in person) has hooks and eyes closing her partlet-thingy

http://clevelandart.org/explore/departmentWork.asp?deptgroup=2&recNo=103

I've heard they show up earlier in the archaeological record, but I've not done any digging myself to say. Of course a random hook-and-eye in a rubbish heap gives no idea for its use, but it is a fairly simple device.
kass_rants
Apr. 30th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Hooks and eyes
Your link isn't working for me which is a shame because I really want to see this work.

But I wasn't arguing against the use of hooks and eyes as closures for any women's garments. I was arguing against their use to close petticotes or to attach petticotes to skirts.

I think there are some German early 16th century pictures showing hooked partlets as well. This doesn't surprise me on an upper body garment.

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