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Doublet

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)
    Italy (woven)

  • Date:

    1650-1665 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver-gilt silk tissue, trimmed with silver-gilt bobbin lace, lined with silk taffeta and reinforced with linen, hand-sewn with silk and linen thread

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support and assistance from the Friends of the V&A, and a number of private donors

  • Museum number:

    T.91-2003

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 9

Doublets formed part of the fashionable ensemble of clothing worn by men in Europe until the late 1660s. The very short length of this example is characteristic of the extreme style of doublets at their final appearance in the male wardrobe. From 1650 to 1665, doublets shortened so that there was a gap between doublet and breeches through which the shirt could be seen. The centre back and front sleeves were left unstitched for further exposure of the shirt, which in the 17th century was considered underwear. More conservative members of society considered the result rather untidy looking. Such a radical fashion, usually worn by young men, attracted the attention of cartoonists and the condemnation of moralists.

The spectacular golden effect of the fabric of this example was created by weaving with silk and with threads wrapped with strips of silver gilt. This splendid material was probably imported from Italy, as there was little in the way of silk-weaving in Britain at this time. Adding to the luxurious effect is the lavish use of bobbin lace also made of silver-gilt thread.

Physical description

A short doublet made of figured silver-gilt silk tissue and trimmed with silvergilt bobbin lace over the seams, along the sleeves and cuffs. It has a standing collar and fastens down the front with 19 buttons. The sleeves reach the forearm and the front seam is open from shoulder to cuff. The centre back seam is also open from collar to waist. The waist is trimmed with eight narrow waist tabs. The inside waist has five metal rings for attaching to the breeches.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)
Italy (woven)

Date

1650-1665 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver-gilt silk tissue, trimmed with silver-gilt bobbin lace, lined with silk taffeta and reinforced with linen, hand-sewn with silk and linen thread

Dimensions

Length: 46.0 cm overall at back, approx., Circumference: 109.0 cm at chest, approx.

Object history note

Formerly of the Lansdowne family and on loan to the National Museums of Scotland in the 1990s. Thought to have been acquired by marriage to the Elphinstone family in the 19th century. Purchased 7 October 2003 at Sothebys.

Historical significance: This is an example of the short-waisted doublet worn by men in Britain between 1650 and 1665. It is a particularly lavish example of fabric and lace made of silver gilt metal thread. Portraits of the period show these doublets exposing the fine linen shirt worn below through the open seams of the sleeves and the doublet at the back as well as at the waist.

Materials

Silk; Linen; Silk taffeta

Techniques

Hand sewing; Bobbin lace

Categories

Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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