Get our beautiful 17th century Doublet pattern!
Buy our full-size paper patterns with complete instructions and historical notes for man's doublet circa 1610s-20s. Included are instructions for optional paning. Fits chests 34"-54". All sizes included in one envelope. Embellishment suggestions included.
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wool, heavyweight silk
lightweight silk or linen for lining heavy linen or canvas for interlining
Yardage Requirements: 3 yds at least 45" wide
wool felt or padding for shoulders
up to 30-5/8" buttons for front closure
thin cardboard (optional)
corset boning or reeds (optional)
7-5/8" buttons for arm closure (optional)
silk ribbon (optional)
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Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:
Men’s Doublets in the 1620s
In the early 1600s, men’s doublet sat at natural waist level just like women’s jackets. But in the 1620s, their waists also began to rise. The waist reached as high as the floating rib in the back and on the sides, but still dipped to the navel at center front, creating a long, pointed effect. Slashing and paning were carryover decorative techniques from the Elizabethan period. These “planned holes” allowed a man’s fine linen or silk shirt to show through his doublet at precise intervals. But even as the 1620s wore on, these techniques became less and less popular. You can see the difference in the doublet at left and at right. Both have basically the same shape. The one below left is paned on the upper arms, chest and back. The one at right is not decorated in this way at all.
The example from the Victorian and Albert Museum in London [T.146-1937] shown at right is made of soft kid leather and embroidered all over in black silk. The number of the skirts is greatly reduced from those on doublets in the early years of this century. Where once there were many small tabs around the waist of a doublet, in this example there are only eight. This reduction was to continue as the seventeenth century progressed. The position of the waistline has also changed. The waist of the doublet aligned with the bottom of the wearer’s ribcage but the center front point stayed roughly where it was (at the fork). This change made this doublet style appear significantly different from the earlier styles.
This is a style that never seems to have caught on with the lower orders. Although there was a brisk business in second-hand clothing at this time, we rarely see pictures of servants wearing high-waisted doublet unless they are obviously liveried by their masters.
A doublet of green silk damask repeats these elements in Plate 3 of Nora Waugh’s Cut of Men’s Clothes (shown at left). This specimen has eight skirts which retain the pointiness of earlier styles. There are eyelet holes to take the points from matching breeches, which are not extant. The doublet is trimmed with narrow braid and paned from the shoulder to the bottom of the sternum on the chest, back, and to just below the elbow on the sleeves. Unlike the other examples, the sleeves feature decorative thread buttons at the top seam, not the back seam as is usual. The buttons on the collar are fastened by thread loops on the opposite side. This use of loops instead of buttonholes on the collars of doublets in the 17th century was necessary because of the stiffness of the collars. Collars were constructed to hold up the neckwear of this time period. Supportases and falling bands were too heavy to be upheld by mere fabric, so collars were stiffened with buckram, cardboard, and even thin strips of wood.
A stiff piece of buckram inserted between the lining and outer material of the garment at the lower portion on either side of the front opening serves as a belly board. This is presumably to keep the wearer’s paunch from ruining the line of the garment.
A silk doublet woven in a floral pattern [170-1869] is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (shown right). The garment is very similar to the previous example in that it retains eyelet holes at the top of the skirts, the skirts terminate in a deep point at center front, it is paned on the chest and arms, and the sleeve buttons are at the top seam. These appear to be purely decorative since eight buttons also close the sleeve at the back seam. The entire garment is decorated with silk braid, tassels, and ornamental silk thread buttons.
An English stamped and paned satin doublet (left) dating from 1625 [V&A T.59-1910] echoes the shape of the previous examples. This doublet is not only paned on the chest, upper sleeves and upper back, but the panes and seams are edged with silk ribbon and that ribbon trimmed with silk braid. This gives the effect of the entire garment being made up of narrow strips of braid instead of cut out of whole fabric. The oval and round figuring on the satin beneath was achieved with iron stamps that were heated to a precise temperature and then applied to the satin, effectively “branding” the decoration into the fabric itself. On this example, it appears that the fabric was paned before being stamped.
A beautiful example of decorative abuse in the 17th century exists in this suit housed at the Victorian and Albert Museum in London. The stone silk suit (shown at right), believed to have belonged to Sir Richard Cotton in 1618, is slashed and pinked at regular intervals to expose a blue silk interlining and a white silk lining. The suit is interfaced and padded in the usual way behind the white silk. The belly piece is again in evidence here. Unlike the previous example with lacing eyelets in their skirts, an eyeleted band is attached to the lining in side this doublet, hiding it from exterior view. Therefore no silk bows show on the outside of the garment. Wool felt and linen canvas pad out the shoulders and stiffen the collar of this finely tailored garment.
The Coronation Doublet (and matching breeches) worn by King Gustavus II Adolphus when he ascended the throne of Sweden in 1617 can be seen today at the Royal Armoury in Stockholm. The suit is made of white satin embroidered with silver gilt thread in a pattern of scrolling vines intermingled with crowns and symbols of the Swedish monarchy and the House of Vasa. Constructed similarly to the other doublets discussed so far, its unique decoration and shockingly pristine condition make it a sight to behold.
The Purple and Gold Suit of King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden, circa 1620, is similarly beautifully decorated. The purple wool broadcloth ground of the outer doublet and breeches is covered in gold floral embroidery. The purple satin under doublet, visible only at the forearms and collar, is embroidered with a similar, coordinating pattern.
The sketch at right does not do the suit justice as it simplifies the unusual details. Similar to the other doublets already discussed, this set of two doublets has a construction that harkens back to the early Renaissance. As was fashionable in Tudor times, the sleeves of the under doublet emerge through slits located in the top seam of the outer doublet. The seams are chevron shaped and bound with gold braid as are all the seams of the two doublets. Instead of closing center front, the doublet buttons down from the collar for about four inches and then the opening cut diagonally across the body to the left underarm. The gold braid at center front mimics a front closure, but the doublet is actually fastened under the arm.
A “Leder Wams” (leather doublet) housed in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, Germany, although not made from wool or satin as are our previous few examples, is of distinctly similar construction. However there is no collar (or at least none extant) and the vambraces of the doublet are cut separately from the upper sleeve, which is made entirely of strips of leather. This arrangement echoes the construction of Landsknecht (German mercenary) clothing of a century earlier.
The cavaliers in Dirck Hals “Meeting in an Inn”, circa 1630, wear high-waisted doublet with baggy breeches, beribboned latchet shoes, and falling collars or soft ruffs and gollilas. Some wear matching doublets and breeches. Others are paired in coordinating colours. Although not depicted in the drawing at right, ribbon points secure the breeches to the doublets in this painting and the colour of these ribbons matches those holding the stockings to the breeches’ kneebands as well as the bows on the shoes. The two doublets shown at right are paned on the chest, upper back and sleeves as was commonly done, but other doublets in the same painting are not paned at all. The men appear to be of the same age and class. The distinction in their dress is obviously one of choice.
The First Duke of Hamilton, as painted by Daniel Mytens in 1629, shows the high-waisted, paned doublet in all its glory. Constructed of silver brocaded silk, the garment is open from shoulder to sternum bottom on the chest and shoulder to elbow on the sleeves, revealing the Duke’s white shirt beneath. Matching silver ribbons tie the breeches to the doublet on the inside and emerge to provide more decoration as bows with metallic points on their ends. The outfit is worn with the lace-edged falling band that was becoming so popular in England at this time. He also wears gloves and a sword, befitting a gentleman.
In Jan Miense Molenaer’s “The Dentist” from 1629 (that incidentally hangs in the North Carolina Art Museum), the subject is shown in a fashionable doublet. Indeed his doublet is too rich for a man of his standing to be able to afford. In this painting, Molenaer warns us of the unscrupulous behaviour of itinerant dentists, surgeons, and doctors. His aim is clearly to extract as much money from his patient as teeth. Like those of the wealthy and noble men above, his doublet is paned on the sleeves and upper back. The tabs of the skirt are decorated with braid and a fine dyed yellow shirt shows through the panes. Even though he is working, he wears a pristine white falling ruff around his neck. His bright red silk breeches (not shown) are also paned and decorated with gold braid.
Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620. 1985: Macmillan, London.
Bayerisches Nationalmuseum Catalog, Munich, Germany.
Boucher, François. 20,000 Years of Fashion. 1987: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York.
Cunnington, C. Willett and Phillis. Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century. 1972: Plays, Boston.
Hart, Avril and Susan North. Fashion in Detail. 1998: Rizzoli International Publications, New York.
Nevinson, J. L. “Men’s Costume in the Isham Collection” In: The Connoisseur 1934, Vol XCIV, pp. 313-320.
Payne, Blanche. History of Costume. 1965: Harper Collins, New York.
Waugh, Norah. Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900. 1964: Routledge, New York.
For more, purchase this pattern.
This information © 2006 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History
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