The Man Made The Clothes: What Was Worn

The idiom goes the clothes make the man. In the 1600s that was certainly true. Through fabric, colors, and style, a person’s position in society was announced without a word.

In this installment of What Was Worn, we are continuing with Renaissance Artemisia Gentileschi’s work of art entitled Esther Before Ahasuerus.

The last installment centered around Esther’s garments and accessories. This month will focus on Ahasuerus and his rich clothing.

What Is He Wearing: A Stylish Man

This post is all about male fashion. And Ahasuerus can only be described as fashionable. This work of art was painted c.1630. During this time, male fashion was shifting. Yet, Ahasuerus clothing reveals the timeline of this era.

Let’s start at the top of this rich outfit. On his neck is an untrimmed, crisp yet soft, white ruff of accordion pleats. It was fashionable at this time period for some to be trimmed with lace as well. He is wearing a rich, green velvet doublet with a long row of small, gold buttons. The armhole is a rolled sleeve that matches the doublet. Both the fabric and color were expensive and not easy to care for. Those big sleeves are paned, leg-of-mutton sleeves of green velvet trimmed in gold with a white silk lining. Beneath his luxurious clothing would be a linen shirt to protect the outer garments from sweat.

Detail of Ahasuerus Doublet

Ahasuerus’ bottoms certainly catch the eye. He is wearing trunk hose, which are padded hose with strips of fabric or panes as they are called over a full, inner layer or lining that reach mid-thigh. The trunk hose are fastened to the doublet by ties or points (short laces or ribbons pulled through matching sets of worked eyelets) . These points are not seen in the painting. At the era, men were also wearing breeches but not our man.

Seventeenth Century Bling: The Finer Touches

The accessories of Ahasuerus clothing are minimal. He isn’t wearing jewelry but he isn’t without finishing touches. First off is his hat. A matching, green velvet hat that flops. It’s reminiscent of a beret but larger. Men had been wearing a variation of this style since the sixteenth century. Two large feathers–a gold one and a white one–that flutter to the right side. He also seems to be wearing a diadem upon that hat. The golden pyramid appearing from the fullness of the hat.

The next accessory is his wine-hued scarf trimmed in gold embroidery with green details. It seems to be a wrap around scarf and from the draping of the garment it is a satin made of silk. A fancy item that still works in this day and age.

Next on our fashionable man is the bottom half of his outfit. Those boots. When I took notice of them, I couldn’t stop thinking of Nancy Sinatra’s song, These Boots Are Made For Walking. The soft, white leather boots are calf-height with a small heel and trimmed with black, short hair fur. Perhaps, mink, squirrel and trimmed with a gold and ruby brooch in the center.

The last item are white stockings. Even in this day and age, it is a trial to keep whites bright and clean. So in the seventeenth century such a task was even harder and only the rich wore such a color. I feel for the poor laundry maid who cared for those things. Those stocking are probably constructed like modern day leggings so they are pulled up with pants and tied so they remained smooth and upright.

If you missed the last What Was Worn post centered on Artemisia Gentileschi and her work of art entitled Esther Before Ahasuerus, please click here https://trocheauthor.wordpress.com/2021/01/27/a-lady-of-talent-and-strength/

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