Decoration of the head and in the fabrics
Alike in the decoration of the head and in the fabrics which were chosen to glorify the simple gowns, it appears to have been quite possible to evade the spirit, while obeying the letter, of the law of simplicity which the rulers demanded at the hands of fashion. Fashion granted it with a difference, and while rigidly austere in cut, clothes were so generally magnificent in their material and so generous in their width, that ruin might wait swiftly upon the prodigal with a pretty fancy in frocks. And to think that the security of a Married Women’s Property Act was outside the ken and comfort of the weak and confiding lord, who loved his lady too well to deny her caprice !
IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY
SUMPTUOUS and ever more sumptuous grew dress in the fourteenth century, when the outfit brought by Isabella of France, upon the occasion of her marriage with Edward II., was a conspicuous example of the possibilities of extravagance. Historians have it that her robes were of gold and silver and of shot taffeta and velvet, that there were many beautiful furs, and that six dozen coifs and 419 yards of linen, and six dresses of green cloth, six dresses splendidly marbled, and six dresses of rose scarlet were included in her possessions. Sovereigns in those times took unto themselves some pride in leading the fashions, and we have Anne, wife of Richard II., effecting the introduction of the cote hardie, a garment not unlike a waistcoat, fitting closely on the hips and trimmed round with a border of fur and buttoned down the front. This was cut square below the neck and boasted long tight-fitting sleeves, and was made of either plain or embroidered material, or it displayed, as did so many of the garments of that day, an embroidered border. Embroidery flourished in the reign of Richard II., when dress, petticoat, and mantle would be emblazoned with the arms of the wearer’s 28 family, and the device of a bird and tree adorned with stately grace many a mantle of Richard’s Queen, who must be credited with a most admirable inclination towards beautiful frocks. In the picture given she is shown wearing a train of peacock-blue velvet bordered with gold and embroidered with jicurs-de-lys, while her head appears to great advantage with a short veil beneath her crown, her hair being braided over the ears and a small lawn band supporting her chin. The sleeve of this frock shows the fancy which obtained for the long scarf held above the elbow and falling with long ends edged with fur ; and the little chemisette and the white cuffs give a winning suggestion of simplicity to an attire completely magnificent.
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