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Title: Costume: Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical
Author: Aria, Mrs.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Costume: Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical" ***

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    COSTUME

    FANCIFUL, HISTORICAL, AND THEATRICAL



[Illustration]

[Illustration: COQUELIN, AS CYRANO DE BERGERAC, FROM A WATER COLOUR
DRAWING BY PERCY ANDERSON.


    COSTUME: FANCIFUL,
    HISTORICAL
    AND THEATRICAL

    COMPILED BY MRS. ARIA

    ILLUSTRATED BY PERCY ANDERSON

    [Illustration]

    London
    MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
    NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
    1906

    _All rights reserved_



[Illustration:

    _To the dear Memory
    of
    Sir Henry Irving
    by whom I was inspired
    with a love for
    all things beautiful._
]



_INTRODUCTORY NOTE_


_"It is merely a question of head," said Percy Anderson to me one day,
whilst we were discussing some easy method of solving a problem in fancy
dress._

_And he continued:_

_"Indeed, I would say that, broadly speaking, of all costume. The fashion
of any period is distinguished primarily by the way its wearer dresses
her hair."_

_"And chooses her sleeves," I suggested, and received his approval._

_We agreed then that we were both most keenly interested in dress,
regarding it as one of the fine and essential arts; and we decided that
we would try to preach its best doctrines and traditions to the world
at large, while we did not ignore the fact that many more worthy had
previously enriched literature with the same object. Realising this
most acutely, it came to pass that I found myself searching libraries
for information which could serve to point my moral, while Mr. Anderson
consented to adorn my tale and help me in my endeavour to present
concisely, and with as little ceremony and as much simplicity as
possible, the main facts of the fashions which have obtained through the
centuries._

_A few practical details and suggestions are included in the hope that
they may obviate some difficulties of those who fret their hour on the
stage or at the fancy-dress ball, while, for the benefit of the next
generation, I have devoted a small space to personal reminiscences of
theatrical heroes and heroines, and to some facts of theatrical dress,
as it has been expressed in classic and popular dramas produced by the
leading actors and actresses of our time._

    _E. ARIA._



CONTENTS


                                                                 PAGE
    CHAPTER I

    IN CLASSIC TIMES                                                1


    CHAPTER II

    IN EARLY MEDIÆVAL TIMES                                        10


    CHAPTER III

    IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY                                      19


    CHAPTER IV

    IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY                                      28


    CHAPTER V

    IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY                                       37


    CHAPTER VI

    IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY                                       49


    CHAPTER VII

    IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY                                     66


    CHAPTER VIII

    IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY                                      78


    CHAPTER IX

    IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY                                      92


    CHAPTER X

    OF BRITISH PEASANTS                                           106


    CHAPTER XI

    OF SOME FOREIGN PEASANTS                                      115


    CHAPTER XII

    OF SOME FOREIGN PEASANTS (_continued_)                        130


    CHAPTER XIII

    OF ORIENTAL DRESS                                             147


    CHAPTER XIV

    OF ORIENTAL DRESS (_continued_)                               163


    CHAPTER XV

    OF FANCY DRESS                                                178


    CHAPTER XVI

    OF DOMINOES AND MASKS                                         190


    CHAPTER XVII

    OF MATERIALS, THE CORSET, AND THE CRINOLINE                   201


    CHAPTER XVIII

    OF CEREMONIAL AND BRIDAL DRESS                                211


    CHAPTER XIX

    OF DANCING DRESSES, EUROPEAN AND ORIENTAL, ANCIENT AND
      MODERN                                                      225


    CHAPTER XX

    OF THEATRICAL DRESS                                           236



ILLUSTRATIONS


    COLOURED

                                                                 PAGE

    Coquelin, as Cyrano de Bergerac. (From a Water-Colour
    Drawing by Percy Anderson)                          _Frontispiece_

    In Ancient Greece                                    _To face_  5

    In the Twelfth Century                                   "     12

    In the Thirteenth Century                                "     22

    The Queen of Richard II.                                 "     28

    A German Student in the Fourteenth Century               "     32

    Varieties of the Hennin                                  "     40

    In the Eighteenth Century                                "     78

    Albanian Peasants                                        "    120

    In Corfu To-day                                          "    126

    In China of Old                                          "    147

    The Seville Orange                                       "    180

    An Egyptian Dancer                                       "    226

    Isolde                                                   "    240

    Lewis Waller as Henry V.                                 "    250

    Othello                                                  "    254


    IN THE TEXT

    Two Hand-Mirrors                                                4

    A Roman Head--A Greek Head                                      6

    A Roman Lady                                                    7

    A Dress laced in the Front--A Dress laced at the Back          11

    A Coronet--A Brooch                                            13

    A Plain Wimple                                                 14

    A Shoe                                                         15

    Dagged Costume in the Twelfth Century                          16

    A Clasped and Jewelled Girdle--A Cloak-Fastener                18

    Henry III.'s Queen                                             20

    A Simple Buttoned Gown                                         21

    A Quaint Wimple                                                34

    The Head-dress of Henry IV.--A Head Drapery held with
      Plaited Hair                                                 35

    Embroidered Gloves                                             36

    An Elaborate Head-dress in the Reign of Henry V.               38

    Elizabeth of Woodville                                         39

    The Horned Head-dress                                          41

    Head-dress of Jewelled Velvet and Lawn                         42

    The Houppelande                                                43

    A Girdle--A Pointed Shoe                                       44

    Elizabeth of York                                              45

    In the Time of Henry VII.                                      52

    A Trio of Ruffs                                                55

    Queen Elizabeth in Full Dress                                  56

    A Chemisette                                                   58

    An Italian Lady                                                59

    Two Italian Coiffures--An Italian Gentleman                    60

    A Spaniard in the Sixteenth Century                            61

    A Shoulder-Jacket                                              62

    The Cape with Buttoned Sleeve                                  63

    Maximilian                                                     64

    A Feather and a Chicken-skin Fan                               67

    A Full Apron                                                   68

    The Lace Commode                                               70

    Clogs and Chopines                                             71

    A Mob-Cap                                                      73

    Glove with Jewelled Gauntlet                                   75

    A Riding Costume                                               76

    Madame de Pompadour                                            79

    Marie Antoinette                                               82

    A Peignoir                                                     83

    A Coiffure                                                     84

    A Variety of Head-dresses adopted in the Eighteenth Century    85

    A Cap and Hood                                                 87

    Some Sticks                                                    89

    Some Quaint Examples of Nineteenth-Century Headgear            93

    Lady Blessington                                               99

    Lady Blessington--Lady Dalmeny                                101

    Two Coiffures--Early Victorian Styles                         102

    In the Nineteenth Century                                     103

    The Austrian Peasant-Bride in Black                           123

    A Croatian Peasant                                            124

    A Croatian Peasant                                            125

    A Greek Peasant in Mediæval Days                              127

    A Greek Peasant--A Greek Peasant Woman--A Greek Priest--A
      Greek Brigand                                               128

    A Westphalian Peasant                                         142

    A Hungarian Peasant in the Seventeenth Century                144

    A Chinese Actor                                               152

    A Chinese Peasant                                             153

    An Egyptian Peasant Woman                                     159

    An Egyptian Water-Carrier                                     160

    An Egyptian Peasant                                           161

    An Old Indian Festival Dress                                  165

    A Botticelli Dancing-Dress                                    181

    An Eighteenth-Century Pierrot                                 183

    A South Sea Islander                                          186

    The Knave of Diamonds                                         187

    Miss Ellen Terry as Mistress Page                             239

    George Alexander as Guy Domville                              245

    Julian L'Estrange as Hermes                                   247

    Beerbohm Tree as Malvolio                                     249

    Miss Constance Collier as Viola                               251

    Miss Gertrude Elliot as Desdemona                             253

    Véronique                                                     255



CHAPTER I

IN CLASSIC TIMES


Fashion, even under exalted patronage, had scant chance to distinguish
herself in the bad old days of the Romans. She, who now must be obeyed,
was forced then to take a back seat enwrapped in the toga, and all who
would have preached or practised the doctrine of diversified dress
remained mute, inglorious modistes. It is not on record that any great
personage invented any particular garment, or was accorded the honour of
standing godmother to a favoured style. Such privileges as those of Queen
Alexandra, who, at the indiscretion of any draper, may be sponsor to a
ruffle or a petticoat, or of Queen Victoria Eugénie, whose name has been
snatched to honour a face-cream, were not in vogue. This seems a pity
when one comes to consider the alliterative allurement of such a title as
the "Boadicean blouse," and to remember that the "Poppæan pomade," which
might have been justified in the observance, was deliberately committed
in the breach.

There was sorry opportunity for any who would have liked to stamp
individuality on their costume. Style was a cut-and-dried affair,
and save in the elaboration or simplicity of adornment variety was
practically without the pale. There was but subtle distinction between
the form of the tunic and the stola, yet perchance in the deftness of
the adjustment of the drapery of the toga and the exact position of the
girdle, taste could play some part. But the world of costume was a dull
table-land exalted to a scene of battle only when the stringent laws
relating to extravagances were liberally disregarded. It seems to have
been a custom throughout the ages for some historian, ruler, or priest
to interfere with the existing facts of fashion. One can find traces of
such want of sympathy even in the eighteenth century. The Roman laws were
arbitrary, and Numa actually forbade any woman to have more than half an
ounce of gold on her robes, while he also prohibited the garment of many
colours. It is pleasing, however, to realise that his strictures were not
taken very seriously.

The one sartorial fact with which my youthful mind was burdened was that
the earliest Britons stained their tattooed bodies with woad. Chroniclers
are not in accord as to the precise shade of this blue dye, proving that
the habits of chroniclers change but little, since fashion-writers of
to-day may be accused of like conduct; and as woad is more correctly
described as an undress uniform than as an article of clothing, I will
not now discuss the question of its exact colour, but note contentedly
that all authorities agree that the Britons clad themselves in skins
decorated with beads and flowers, which, in conjunction with their
painted and punctured persons, lent them a ferocious aspect, quite
attractive.

Much as Boadicea detested the Romans, she preferred their graceful
garments to those worn by her own countrywomen, and when she led her
troops into battle, she was attired in all the glory of a multi-coloured
tunic, and her hair fell unbound over her neck and shoulders. Wily
Boadicea, her unbound hair proved the woman in the warrior, who would win
her triumph as best she could, though history is careful not to attribute
to her any but the most legitimate methods!

In those days the Roman women made a rule of wearing a toga, which,
hanging from the neck or the head, fell over the shoulders and touched
the ground at the back. The toga was either white or yellow for persons
of rank, when the border was purple, but the lower orders had the toga
dyed, and in times of mourning chose it in black. Within doors the toga
was discarded altogether in favour of the simple tunic, which was worn
with or without the girdle, and made either of woollen material or cotton
or thin gauze. Towards the latter part of the Empire the tunic was
lengthened, and bore sleeves adorned with buttons according to Hellenic
fashion; indeed, the sleeve seemed then, as now, to indicate style, for
the earlier types reached only to the elbow, and gradually they extended
to the wrist, and finally to the ground.

When the stola became popular it was always white, bearing long sleeves
ornamented with a wide border, and over it fell a mantle with a hood
round the shoulders. White was the favourite colour for a long time,
and even in those days the Gauls inspired the fashions. They taught the
Britons to spin and weave and dye, and purple and scarlet herb dyes were
employed with considerable success, though the chief colouring matter
was woad. The Roman women allowed their taste in colour to run riot, and
purple, scarlet, green, yellow, hyacinth, and blue were all in favour, as
well as chequered materials.

The foot-gear at this period was of two kinds, either reaching to the
middle of the leg and covering the whole foot, or only protecting the
sole of the foot and being secured by leather thongs. Women's shoes were
but little less costly than those worn by the men, and were gay with
ornament of gold set with pearls and other precious stones.

[Illustration: A HAND-MIRROR.]

[Illustration: A HAND-MIRROR.]

Jewellery was a great feature; ear-rings, bracelets, armlets, torques and
necklaces, and rings of gold, silver, and baser metals, were often set
with precious stones, or engraved with the portrait of some dear friend
or the representation of some historical event. Such rings, being used
for sealing letters and documents, would usually be bequeathed by a Roman
on his death-bed to his nearest friend. Ear-rings were a very favourite
form of adornment, and three or four would dangle picturesquely from each
ear, but only women and boys wore them. The wearing of rings, however,
was general. Iron, copper, and ivory played their part in the making of
the bracelets, and in the long pins for the hair, which were decorated
with massive heads mostly significant, including such odd designs as a
fish bearing in its mouth two precious stones, and a hanging basket with
a greedy bird pecking at its floral contents. The serpent found his
way to favour as an armlet and again as a diadem. The Greeks, indeed,
were fond of adorning their garments with beasts and birds, which they
embroidered or wove in gold and silver and coloured threads.

[Illustration: IN ANCIENT GREECE.]

The Greek female dress consisted of the pallium, a cloak-like garment
very long and ample, worn plain, or bearing a fringed border, and under
this was a chlamys, bearing close kinship in form to the Roman toga,
and fastened to the shoulder by a brooch. The Grecian women cut their
hair close to their heads, and the married were distinguished from the
unmarried by a parting in front, but no Grecian woman ever went without a
veil, covering the face. The head-dress and ribbons of matrons differed
from those of the virgins, and there was a change in the shape of the
tunic before and after marriage. Ribbons in the hair were preferred as
decorations by the modest women, while the courtesans covered their heads
with a mitre, and carried oval hand-mirrors, which distinguished them, as
it were significantly, from their more virtuous sisters, who made use of
fans of leaves or feathers.

The art of beauty, it seems, was studied with much interest. The use of
cosmetics was greatly favoured. White lead was employed to whiten the
skin, and vermilion to produce the rosy bloom of youth; and we have most
of us been impressed by the fact that Nero's wife discovered a pomade for
the preservation of her complexion--no doubt her urgent needs led to this
heroic effort! Much time and attention were bestowed on the hair, and the
use of false tresses was very general, slaves being employed to curl the
hair, while experts supervised the process. The structures were adorned
with pearls and other precious stones, crowns of gold and flowers,
ribbons and fillets, while the embroidered net, known as the caul, also
had a full share of patronage. The Roman women would paint their hair a
gorgeous yellow.

[Illustration: A ROMAN HEAD.]

Men and women alike wore the cothurnus, which reached to the knee, where
it was fastened, purple being the favourite colour for this. It could not
have been possible to obtain a great variety in a costume, and, save in
the decoration of the tunic, which was ornamented with spots or scrolls,
and in the arrangement of the girdle, of two varying widths, the one
placed above the other so that the folds of the gown could pouch between,
every one must have appeared very like his brother and his sister.

One of the divergences in the fashion of the tunic worn by the women and
that worn by the men was in the former always reaching to the feet and
covering the arms.

[Illustration: A GREEK HEAD.]

The actual shape of the garments varied but little, and between the
tunic and the stola there would have been some difficulty in seeing any
difference, but the stola was worn over the tunic, and it came as low
as the ankles, and was fastened round the body by a girdle, broad folds
being above the breast: the essential distinction between the two in
cut being that the stola always possessed an instita or flounce.

[Illustration: A ROMAN LADY.]

It is a curious fact, and one worthy of note, that the dress of the boys
was marked by a change after the age of seventeen. Then they laid aside
the purple-bordered toga in favour of the toga purely white, white being,
presumably, the insignia of liberty. Boys wore, too, about their necks
a hollow ball or boss, the higher classes having this in gold, and the
poorer citizens in leather. This boss was also adopted as an ornament for
belts or girdles, but in the very ancient days the Roman men had no other
clothing than the toga, and it was thought effeminate to appear abroad
carelessly girdled.

The Romans in later days wore a chiton, a short woollen shirt without
sleeves, and they also bestowed patronage upon long linen garments
bearing sleeves, while above the toga they adopted a sort of coat, open
in front and fastened with clasps and buckles, this sharing favour with
the greatcoat or surtout, which bore a hood and was chiefly used for
journeys or by the soldiers. The military robe proper of the Romans was
a woollen garment called a sagum, and the men at first wore neither
stockings nor breeches, but enwrapped their legs and thighs with pieces
of cloth. Later they tried socks of goat's hair and shoes of unwrought
leather.

The shoes of the senators flaunted a gold crest on the top, and black was
the most general colour, though scarlet and red were also in use.

Gloves too were amongst the possibilities of this early moment, and it is
set down that some of these were cut with fingers, and that others were
of the pattern of a mitten.

In grief the Romans allowed their hair to grow, even as the Jews did, and
the first growth of the beard in youth was consecrated to some god. The
hair was treated altogether with much respect, valued and considered with
care. Every lady of distinction possessed her own hair-dresser, curling
irons were in demand, and a popular shape of head-dressing was copied
from the helmet.

For the rest, let my illustrations speak. The coloured specimen
represents the classic Greek garb under its simplest aspect, made in
white home-spun bordered with yellow, and falling in folds somewhat
disguiseful to the figure, and quite simple to achieve. The Roman lady
having flattered the Grecian sleeve to the point of imitation, proudly
bears her toga traced with purple and crowned with jewels. The two
head-dresses are characteristic, and amongst things easy to understand.

Taking the so-called classic period altogether, it must be admitted that
among the ancient Greeks and Romans were born the best principles of the
art of dress--an appreciation of outline and a sense of grace in drapery.



CHAPTER II

IN EARLY MEDIÆVAL TIMES


From the days of the early Britons to the twelfth century is a long
jump, but in many countries the growth of new fashions was so slow that
to attempt to describe it would mean much wearying repetition and an
unnecessary extension of these pages.

For example, the dress worn by the men and women of Italy during the
twelfth century was very similar to the old Roman styles, while in
Southern Italy the Norman dress found favour as well as the Byzantine. In
Sicily Arab costume predominated, and in Northern Italy the German and
the Norman fashions shared popularity. Italian women, who all aspired to
express their exalted birth by their dress, wore in the house a tunic
or stola drawn up under a belt to show the feet, fitting closely to the
figure and bearing long or short sleeves, as fancy dictated, and over
this a palla, developed into a rectangular piece of cloth, passed under
the right armpit with the ends knotted on the left shoulder.

Until the close of the tenth century, costume in England bore more
resemblance to that worn in ancient Rome than to any chosen by the
Danes. Though the Normans were greatly influenced by the Saracenic and
Byzantine fashions prevailing in Southern Europe, an English lady of the
twelfth century could scarcely have been distinguished by her attire from
a lady of the Lower Empire, or even a modern maid of Athens; and no doubt
a contemporary wit of flippant habit would have excused her simplicity by
declaring that the study of costume was Greek to her.

[Illustration: A DRESS LACED IN THE FRONT.]

[Illustration: A DRESS LACED AT THE BACK.]

The prevailing note in dress in the twelfth century was costliness.
The king set the fashion of rich apparel, and his example was followed
by both clergy and people, though the former exercised their didactic
privileges by inveighing against the most popular eccentricities. The
women's dress at this period showed a strong tendency to exaggerated
length, and the veils and kerchiefs were so long that the fair wearers
were forced to knot them to avoid treading on them, while the skirts lay
in great folds on the ground. Much significance might be attached to that
precious old MS. where the illuminator depicts the devil in a woman's
_surcoat_ with a sleeve and skirts tied up in knots! Robes were laced
up in front, and the cuffs of the sleeves embroidered or fur-trimmed,
and over the long robe or tunic appeared a shorter garment resembling
the _sur côte_, which was chequered and spotted, presumably to represent
embroidery, and finished with an indented border termed "dagged," in a
fashion condemned by Henry II. Norman ladies wore their hair plaited, the
braids often incased in silk or bound round with ribbon and finished off
with three curls; but towards the end of the twelfth century the hair was
frequently held in a network of gold set with stones.

The clergy had much to say on the subject of the long beards which
reappeared during the reign of Henry I.; and that one, more forcible
than elegant in his denunciations, who described the men of his time as
"filthy goats," has for the solecism gone down to posterity with the
priest who, preaching such a moving sermon on the subject that king and
courtiers wept, took advantage of the impression he had made, drew out a
large pair of scissors that he had concealed in his sleeve, and cropped
the entire assemblage.

[Illustration: IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY.]

During the latter half of the twelfth century a change for the better
came over the spirit of dress, which was now marked by a greater
reticence. The extravagant cuff disappeared, and sleeves were worn
tight and fastened at the wrist. An effigy of Queen Berengaria, in the
Abbey of l'Espan, shows the queen with flowing locks partly covered by a
kerchief, surmounted by a gold crown; her robe is held together at the
neck by a large circular brooch set with precious stones, her mantle
hanging almost to her feet behind, while a small aumônière is pendent
from a beautiful girdle. For just so much detail and no more would I pin
my faith to a monumental sculptor as a fashion historian. Green was the
favourite colour of the robe in the reign of John, and there is a king's
warrant for two green robes for the queen, each to consist of two ells
of cloth, while there exists a register showing that a green robe lined
with condal cost sixty shillings; so common, in fact, was the wearing of
the green that Longchamp, the arrogant Bishop of Ely, when he was forced
to fly the kingdom to escape John's rage, disguised himself in a woman's
green tunic and Norman mantle and hood of the same colour.

It was the harvest-time for the embroiderers, or at least it ought to
have been, but it is not on record that their services were rewarded with
any magnificent generosity. Embroidery was rampant: all state garments
were traced with gold, and vivid colours would adorn robes and mantles
alike, a favourite design being a series of circles.

[Illustration: A CORONET.]

[Illustration: A BROOCH.]

The pelisse now came into existence; in form it was a close-fitting
dress, a prototype of the garment which bears the same title to-day. Fur
was a modish trimming, and nine bars of fur are mentioned as a trimming
of some special grey pelisse which King John bestowed upon Isabella of
Angoulême. Obviously the sealskin paletot and the sable cape were not
amongst the possibilities of that hour, or His Majesty would not have
been let off so cheaply.

[Illustration: A PLAIN WIMPLE.]

But to the enthusiastic chronicler of fashion there was one fact of King
John's reign which was pre-eminently worthy and admirable. This was
the introduction of the wimple, of all attributes to feminine beauty
surely the most becoming ever conceived or accomplished! It was made
either in silk or linen, a covering for the neck, chin, and forehead at
once disguiseful and provocative, coquettish and demure. At times the
wimple was little more than an elaborated veil or kerchief, but in its
most alluring form it was a separate article worn under the veil, as
in a nun's dress of to-day, which, in fact, in all but colour, bears a
striking resemblance to the thirteenth-century dress. Indeed Chaucer
distinguishes the two when he says--

    Wering a vaile insted of wimple,
    As nonnes don in ther abbey.

The wimple was wrapped round the head and chin, and ladies of wealth
bound it on the forehead by a golden or jewelled fillet, while their
poorer sisters used plain silk. Silken wimples were forbidden to the
nuns, who were then as now devoted to white linen. It is not unlikely
that the wimple originated with the fashion of wearing the coverchief
about the neck, and it was towards the end of the twelfth century that
the coverchief underwent transformation, growing smaller and being tied
under the chin like a modern cap or bonnet.

[Illustration: A SHOE.]

Boots and shoes formed an important portion of dress in the twelfth
century, and here again the interfering cleric played his favourite rôle
of denunciator. The monks, who were denied their wear, abused with vigour
the peak-toed boots and shoes, which indeed reached a point exquisitely
ridiculous when a courtier could choose to stuff the points of his shoes
with tow, so that they might curl up like ram's horns. Dispassionately,
I recognise as much wit as wisdom in the notion.

Women wore short boots as well as shoes, but the dresses were so long
that only the tips of the toes could be seen, and they were content to
embroider these in gold with fanciful or circular devices.

Gloves, jewelled at the back, were chosen by the richer classes, and
coarsely-made warm gloves without fingers received a mild patronage from
the poor. But women wore gloves very rarely; they were not amongst the
trifles which attracted feminine attention, though there was much general
love for variety, and a vast amount of money, care, and thought was
bestowed on personal adornment.

[Illustration: DAGGED COSTUME IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY.]

In the early part of the thirteenth century many beautiful fabrics put
in an appearance. Velvet, and silk interwoven with gold, and cloth with
many colours were fashionable, while it became a very popular practice
to ornament hems of garments by cutting them into indented tabs or
leaves, a fashion to which I have referred previously as "dagged," the
contemporary expression. How pretty the dagged costume may be is easily
realised by glancing at the picture on page 16, which shows it entirely
made in cloth, crowned by a white linen turban with a band of linen under
the chin.

The turban adorned many a fair and dark head, the Spanish women wearing
it exclusively, drawing their inspiration for this, and for their
trailing robes and funnel-shaped sleeves, from the Arab fashions.

Frenchwomen asserted themselves as pioneers with the closely-fitting
garment that allowed the lines of the figure to be seen, a legitimate
ancestress to our princess gown. Sleeves established their right to
exist in more than one form, some being wide at the top, others narrow,
close-fitting, and fastened at the wrists, and others again narrow at the
top and to the middle of the forearm, where they widened and fell almost
to the ground.

The cuirass dress was often slightly open at the neck in order to show
the under-garment, and a long girdle embroidered in gold was passed
round the waist, crossed behind and brought round again to the front a
little lower down, where it was tied so that the ends fell loosely. In
the twelfth century this style of gown was frequently draped on the hips
and worn without the embroidered bodice or the girdle, and a favoured
long robe was open from top to bottom and fastened with buttons. Mantles
were semicircular in cut and held in divers ways, and their borders were
adorned with rectangular metal plaques, each pierced with five holes, a
double cord being passed through these holes and fastened behind.

[Illustration: A CLASPED AND JEWELLED GIRDLE.]

An affection for jewels, rings and collars of pearls, diadems and clasps,
was common to all the nobles of all the nations, while caps, wimples,
and veils crowned the fair with grace, and permitted some diversity of
expression.

[Illustration: A CLOAK-FASTENER.]

In the twelfth century the English historian declares that in France
fashion danced the gayest tunes and was uproarious in her demand
for extravagance, and, if French chroniclers are to be believed,
moderation marked the footsteps of the native mondaine, whose shoes were
comparatively low and bore small points. But I doubt not that, then as
now, each woman was a profit to her own country, and did her duty to
commerce by practising prodigality with unswerving enthusiasm.



CHAPTER III

IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY


A comparative simplicity marked the raiment of the thirteenth century,
when the elaborate detail yielded place to ample folds of drapery,
capacious mantles, and flowing trains. It was a simplicity, however,
which cannot conscientiously be congratulated upon its economical habits,
for the fabrics employed were of the richest and most sumptuous, and the
breadth of the garments was prodigious. The dress which is so proudly
worn by the Queen in the illustration on page 20, is characteristically
splendid, and a glance at it shows that it was fashioned of a thick
brocade traced in diamond design, and cut square in the neck and very
long in the sleeves, where a few folds of white lawn appear becomingly
above the wrists, the veil falling from neck to hem, and the enfolding
gorget being fastened tightly under the chin. Pre-eminently typical was
another dress honoured by this Eleanor of Provence--a most unpopular
lady, by the way, even though her taste in costume might have made for
some measure of success, at least amongst her feminine subjects. She
chose "a gown of gold brocade, sleeves reaching to the wrists, while
over this she wore a mantle bordered with gold and bearing a collar of
ermine. The mantle was held up by a brooch of gold set with jewels, the
head crowned with a Gothic design of floriated trefoils above a jewelled
band."

[Illustration: HENRY III.'S QUEEN.]

[Illustration: A SIMPLE BUTTONED GOWN.]

The following description, commendably brief, which I have read of a
dress worn by the wife of Edward I. will bring home the fashion of the
day to the understanding of the least initiated:--"A long gown with loose
sleeves; held at the breast by a narrow band is a long mantle, folds of
this covering the feet; ornaments none." But then no doubt the amiable
lady suffered from a popular leaning in favour of conjugal obedience, and
it is well known that King Edward himself strenuously upheld all simple
garb, though it must be admitted that his descendants showed but small
respect for his prejudices when they buried him in "a dalmatic of red
silk damask, a crimson satin mantle fastened on the shoulders by a gilt
fibula decorated with precious stones; a stola of white tissue ornamented
with gilt quatrefolds and knots crossed on the breast, and jewelled
gloves upon his august hands. The lower part of his body was wrapped in
a piece of cloth of gold."

Some severity also marked costume in France at this time, when there
was a suggestion of the ecclesiastical in the high _guimpe_ without
which no dress was complete. This was a fancy inaugurated by the second
wife of Philip III. for the special benefit of her long throat and flat
chest; and worn in company with a pointed head-dress and a flowing veil,
a closely-fitting long robe of brocade, and an embroidered mantle,
the general effect must have been entirely dignified and impressive.
Simplicity, however, did not reign here long, and Louis IX. of France
appears to have been quite lenient towards extravagance, and to have
had a nice taste of his own, judging from the picture which represents
him wearing a velvet cap, a tunic open at the neck, and a robe of brown
embroidered with red flowers, and possessing long sleeves trimmed
with fur. Fur was amongst his weaknesses evidently, for a deep cape
of fur covers his shoulders in another picture, where he is wearing a
fur-trimmed robe and has indulged himself with red stockings and black
shoes. This was the King who urged his courtiers to dress themselves
well and neatly, so that their wives would love them the more, and their
people esteem them higher.

[Illustration: IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.]

Philip the Fair, or Unfair, of France decreed that "No damoiselle, if she
be not _châtelaine_ or dame owning 2000 levies yearly, shall have more
than one pair of gowns per year; and if she be, she shall have two pairs
and no more"--an edict which was, of course, defied fearlessly. Sumptuary
laws come somehow to be disregarded, proving the courage of women in
defence of their idol--fashion.

Very curious is a coiffure which obtained in the reign of Philip the
Bold, consisting of a covering like a plate in outline worn upon the
head, with a veil falling over the cheeks and pendent at the back. Far
more attractive must have been the head-dress of peacock's feathers
which obtained about that time, when prodigality began to assert itself
defiantly in magnificent jewels and gowns of condal emblazoned with
rubies and sapphires; and when silken hose, gold and silver embroidery,
and furred trimmings were amongst the attainable and the attained.

Lavishness ruled in Italy in the thirteenth century, when women wore long
full gowns of silk velvet brocade, and tissues of gold and silver, and
woollen materials dyed violet or scarlet. They had very large sleeves,
their hands often being more than half covered with these, which touched
the ground; and ornaments of pearls and borders of gold edged with pearls
were chapters in the story of magnificence, little hoods adorned with
gold and pearls and embroidery speaking the final word of splendour. The
Italian matron wore a long mantle touching the ground, and open in the
front, fastened with buttons or clasps enriched with pearls, and lined
with silk and decked with gold, and when the hood was dispensed with, the
hair was covered with a light transparent veil of silk.

The kirtle worn in England in the reign of Edward I. was in form plain to
the point of severity, but over it on occasions there flowed a robe with
a long train, the ladies of rank choosing the kirtle in as rich material
as the robe, which they removed as a mark of respect when attending on
illustrious guests.

The kirtle was a garment originally common to both sexes, and is best
described as a smock frock, although the term at different times has been
permitted to signify a cloak, a gown, a waistcoat, and even a petticoat,
and in the fifteenth century it was disgraced into a habit of penance.
Most frequently the kirtle was laced closely to the body and hung
straight downwards to the hem.

In the latter years of this century was introduced the _surkuane_,
which, according to a famous writer, was of Languedocian origin. He
describes it as being a bodice cut down the front and displaying in
the intervals left by the lacings, very wide apart, a transparent
tissue of the chemise elaborately pleated and embroidered in gold and
silver. The existence of this has, however, been disputed by no less
an authority than Planché, who has failed to discover any trace of a
thirteenth-century dress fulfilling such conditions. Yet it was at
this time that an edict was passed prohibiting the _cottes lacés_ and
_chemises brodées_, and had there been no such fashion of bodice, there
would have been no temptation for such luxuries, and no occasion for
legislation to check the indulgence. The embroidered shift was forbidden
to all save brides, who were permitted it on their wedding day and for
the twelve succeeding months. Surely to have set such limit on the wear
of dainty _lingerie_ encouraged that reprehensible being the slatternly
wife, whose charms do not outlive her trousseau. The costume of the
bridegroom is not specialised, but man under less ecstatic circumstances
seems to have been distinguished by a large cloak with full sleeves and
a hood, a white linen coif tied under his chin, while a fantastic sort of
close cap formed headgear common alike to France, Germany, and England,
the origin being doubtful. Beneath the long cloak men wore a long gown
reaching to the feet, and fastened at the waist, and as an alternative
to this they could choose a tunic to the knee, with wide sleeves to the
elbow, the fitting sleeves of the under-tunic terminating at the wrists
and fastening with a closely-set row of buttons, or, if the buttons were
omitted, sewn tightly round.

Briefly, women's dress in England in the thirteenth century consisted of
a wimple and gorget swathed round the neck and fastened by pins above
the ears, concealing alike brow and chin; the full gown worn loose
had sleeves trailing on the ground, and the under-garment, which was
generally darker than the gown, had tight-fitting sleeves turned up from
the wrists. The poorer women wore a somewhat shorter gown caught up under
the arm to reveal the under-garment, and high boots reaching to the calf
of the leg and fastened with a double row of buttons. In France, however,
the women of the middle and lower classes wore grey shoes, whence it is
supposed the word "grisette" was born, which from modern usage has come
to typify "somebody captivating who dwells in the Latin quarter."

There were, however, changes which deserve mention. The hood was still
in favour, and the long wide circular cloak was worn fastened at the
neck with double cords, and the trains of the dresses became abnormally
extended, evoking from idle critics many more or less witty quips which
may or may not have influenced the subsequent lessening of the trains.
Gradually the width of the dresses decreased as their length increased,
and the girdle had the privilege of existing merely as an ornament, while
the cuffs of the under-sleeves were adorned with buttons, and the hanging
over-sleeve was cut as a long bag from the elbow to the shoulders, where
it fastened into the robe and fell to the floor.

Amongst the wise saws of ancient instance was the advice in the _Romance
of the Rose_, "that ladies should let trailing robes hide the feet of
those too large and unsightly, but that the more beautifully gifted could
hold up their skirts and proceed in comfort." Herein may we realise
that wisdom is no new counsellor in the ways of vanity, and I am quite
convinced that some such philosopher must have guided the selection of
the dame whose picture faces page 22 in draperies of pink over mauve,
with a purple mantle lined with red. Nothing could be more becoming
than the simple lines of her gown which flow from neck to hem, trimmed
at the top with gold jewels set with emeralds, while round her brow is
a golden fillet, with a fold of white lawn under the chin holding this
from side to side. How attractive are these lawn folds may be noted again
on a famous canvas, which portrays a dress of the same period in thick
brocade, with a plain over-skirt bordered with embroidery, and the broad
flat turban hat flanked on either side by wings elaborately decked with
jewels, with a pendent veil from the back.

There is much virtue in the veil, and its length and condition were
varied to suit the individual and her circumstance. On state occasions
it would be overspread by another veil, and above it by the women of
quality would be placed a crown of gold; or it would assert its influence
over the hair, which was parted on the forehead, curled or plaited behind
the ears, and confined in a gold net known as a crispine; women of
highest degree choosing this crispine of gold thread set with jewels and
encircling it by a gold band also jewelled, which would form the frame
for the veil. This crispine in various forms was the common fashion for a
long time, and when discarded the hair was bound tightly to the head with
a silken fillet and garlands of flowers.

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!



CHAPTER IV

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 _côte 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 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
the _fleurs-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.

[Illustration: THE QUEEN OF RICHARD II.]

Her royal consort decked himself with dress no less elaborate, fur, gold,
embroidery, and brocade and velvet all having the privilege of adorning
His Majesty, whose courtiers wore robes emblazoned and embroidered with
precious stones, and mantles sliced in pointed leaf or square indented
edges. Parti-coloured garments were their delight, the dress often being
divided in two, half in one colour and half in another, hose suffering
like treatment; and their wide sleeves, known as "devil's receptacles,"
trailed along the ground, with many slashings to decorate them. The
Troubadours gaily twanged the guitar and other instruments at the
tournament, where the dames and matrons rode in parti-coloured tunics,
with hoods and long tails to them, and bore small gold or silver swords
or daggers in the girdle, which fell over the hips instead of encircling
the waist.

Ermine shed its soft influence on many of the stiffest of silks, and
dresses were completely lined with ermine, which also bordered the
_côte hardie_. A deep royal blue was a very favourite colour, and jewels
obtained in abundance, girdles being encrusted with these, while no neck
seemed complete without a necklace of four rows of jewels and a pendent
cross.

A good example of the dress worn by the middle class may be taken from
Chaucer's Wife of Bath. He tells us she wore on her head on Sundays a
fine cloth kerchief which weighed a pound, and scarlet stockings and fine
new shoes; she travelled in a wimple and a very broad hat and cloak. The
Miller's wife went abroad in a girdle, barred all of silk, and a white
apron or barme cloth, as it was then called. Her shift had its collar
embroidered in front and behind with black silk, and she covered her head
with a white cap tied with strings, above a broad silk fillet. She had a
leathern purse with metal buttons and silken tassels depending from her
girdle.

Edward II.'s reign welcomed a new mode of dressing the hair, which was
parted in the middle; over each ear was a golden basket, and on the top
was a band of gold, narrower in the centre and broader towards the ears,
and the coverchief was placed on the top of the head. A peculiar method
too was the arranging of the hair in sausage rolls, covered with a white
veil held in a lattice-work of gold. On the whole, head-dresses were more
remarkable than beautiful and becoming. The caput, which came a little
later, and might have been called ugly, fitted closely to the head, and
had a broad scolloped border, and sometimes, in addition, two lappets
which hung to the waist; others were pointed as the bishop's mitre; and
most were characterised by a lack of height with no hair visible; and
the pendent veil at the back bore an embroidered border. There was much
hankering after yellow hair in the reign of Richard II., and those who
were unblessed with golden locks would dye them with saffron.

Gloves received the special attention of women in the fourteenth century,
and, when not actually on the hands, were placed in the girdle or
carried. The gauntlets were jewelled, and embroidery was on the back or
round the base of the fingers. Spain and France were famous for their
proficiency and industry in the making of gloves, and fur and sheepskin
were used for these as well as wool and silk.

In Germany the costume affected during the fourteenth century differed
but little from that of the thirteenth. The dress of the women consisted
of a long garment with a shorter under-dress, and over this another
dress was worn, and over this again a mantle. The loose under-garment
was very long, closely fitting to the hips, whence the skirt increased
considerably in width; long narrow sleeves were made of white or coloured
silk or of fine linen, and the necks of the dresses and the borders of
the sleeves were trimmed with tracings of gold; a short chemise was
visible from neck to waist, and the Hausfrau bunch of keys hung from the
girdle. It is on record, indeed, that German women in this century were
buried with their keys, and that divorced women were bound to return
them to their husbands. Young girls wore a long sleeveless robe closely
fitting to the hips and ample in the skirt, and over this a long gown of
equal fulness fell from the neck, extremely wide upon the shoulders, and
covering the forearm on both sides as a long tabard, circular pieces
being cut out from each side, and the lower portion of the skirt sewn up.
The old Teuton mode of hair-dressing with flowing locks prevailed, but
plaiting also was in vogue, twisted with coloured or gold ribbons, or
held at the back in a golden net. Simple garlands of flowers were placed
in the hair, and a fillet of stuff or metal, this being shaped either as
a crown, a diadem, or a coronet; and the matron adopted a fur-trimmed cap.

Italy in the fourteenth century showed a decided tendency to return to
the classic form of dress. Long robes fashioned like the old tunic and
stola fell in graceful folds round the figure to the ground; the sleeves
were of moderate width, permitting the under-sleeves to be seen fitting
tightly to the wrists. The dawn of the Renaissance brought some changes
in costume, notably in the over-dress, then called a "simarre," which
fitted closely in the bodice and outspread in a full trained skirt. This
simarre was sometimes made open from neck to hem, and held together
at the top by a square brooch; and the sleeves were of two varieties,
either quite tight or else wider and very long, ending in a point, but
invariably bearing some decorative border. The girdle definitely slipped
to the hips, and the description of a Florentine dress runs: "A simarre
of brocade fastened with small buttons on either side, the back hanging
quite straight, the girdle being worn in front of the dress only." Very
pretty must have been the cypriane, a gown of French origin which was
worn with a high belt and had a triangular-shaped opening low on the
bodice, a veil covering the bosom, and a delicate ruffle encircling
the neck; the puffed sleeves and the back of the dress were slashed.
A semicircular cloak was thrown over the shoulders and fastened in
front, and left open or buttoned from throat to hem. The married women
chose a sleeveless over-dress, and a long red or blue cloak, capacious
and enveloping, and the widow wore this in black, surmounted by a long
white veil. Caps, veils, and fillets found equal favour in the eyes of
the Italian, whose pretty hair was as frequently seen bound with satin
ribbons as with gold or silver paillettes, or arranged spirally, or
confined in a caul; and the horseshoe shape of head-dress common in
England was also to be seen in Italy, who borrowed it from France, where
the skirts were now gradually becoming narrower and the dresses buttoning
straight down the front, the skirt and bodice being cut in one, and the
sleeves invested with much diversity, being worn tight or loose, buttoned
or hanging open, displaying in some cases the forearm and in others a
close under-sleeve.

[Illustration: A GERMAN STUDENT IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.]

The sleeveless surcoat was very popular, the upper portion tapering to a
small point upon the shoulders, showing the gown worn beneath, and the
skirts of these surcoats were decked with ermine and emblazoned with the
family arms. The art of embroidery was cultivated assiduously by the
rich, whose leisured moments were spent in plying the needle and silk, to
accomplish devices which should honour and grace their attire.

Veils of white linen enwrapped the head, and unbound hair was rarely
seen except on young girls. A richly embroidered cap that received some
attention was so shaped that it partly covered the cheeks, and below
it were two ear-cages of metallic tissue in plaited design. A very
curious head-dress in France was composed of a closely-fitting cap with a
jewelled border, surmounted by a long flat piece of material placed over
the forehead and hanging down behind, this being elaborately trimmed and
jewelled, and completely hiding the hair.

[Illustration: A QUAINT WIMPLE.]

It is written to the honour of Isabella of Bavaria that she encouraged
the ladies of her Court in a great love for dress, and she would seem to
have made a study of the subject, if one judges from a picture of her
robed in regal array, with a horned head-dress surmounted by a crown,
an elaborate robe profusely adorned with jewels, a mantle bordered with
ermine, and a train of prodigal extent.

The surcoat received the honour of sleeves in the latter part of the
century, and these hung almost to the hem of the skirt, while the _côte
hardie_ took unto itself another shape, the shoulders being broader, the
bodice cut low, and edged with fur, with folds of white silk to form
a collar, a short waist being simulated by the wearing of the girdle
high. The last twenty years of the century saw the introduction of high
coverchiefs, mostly crescent-shaped or horned, one of the former being
contrived of two heart-shaped pieces of silk with rolled edges, the
spaces between the two sides being occupied with a veil of cloth.

[Illustration: THE HEAD-DRESS OF HENRY IV.]

Henry IV., with tender solicitude for his own comfort and beauty,
invented a cloth head-dress which enwrapped his bald pate and bore a
gold device on one side, and a fringe on the hem. A novel head-dress for
a woman, calculated to show both itself and the hair at the best, shows
plaits worn outside the lawn covering, as in the picture. This must
have been most attractive; so too would be a lawn head-dress which set
outwards and upon a frame at the back, whence it hung straight across
to form a most becoming background. The origin of this was German, and
its accomplishment was a little complicated, involving the arrangement
of the ordinary band of linen round the face, while above was drapery
of _appliqué_ work in white or white of silver. The short veil which
came above this again was kept in place by a jewelled circlet, the cloth
around the throat and shoulders being cut in one with the inner band of
the wimple.

[Illustration: A HEAD DRAPERY HELD WITH PLAITED HAIR.]

Amongst the most attractive descriptions that I have found of dress in
this period is one of a Frenchwoman whose hair was entwined with black
ribbon, and whose dress was of white embroidered in silver, with small
sleeves of red and white check bordered with gold.

Cambric of a sort--not as we know it to-day--must have been
indispensable, for it enwrapped the head, and formed the _guimpe_, and
had the privilege of making small ruffles. A dress of decided charm was
made of brocade, cut in one piece to the knees, and thence flounced with
ermine to the ground. The bodice was low to the waist, and from the waist
to the bust was filled in with white cambric, and an ermine collar was
round the shoulders. The sleeves were very tight to the wrists, with
ermine cuffs extending over the hands, and from the pointed head-dress
fell a long veil with embroidered border.

[Illustration: EMBROIDERED GLOVES.]

Women had plenty of chance to indulge their desire for variety in the
minor accessories of dress, in their embroidered purses, their jewelled
girdles, their decorated borders, their _guimpes_ and their ornamented
gloves. All of these gave opportunity for the display of the individual
taste, and it must be regarded somewhat regretfully that there were no
fashion papers in that day, or we who come after would not have been left
so high and dry for detail. Still, we may be grateful for the written
record that aprons were first seen in this period, and that they were
tied with ribbons; that widows were denied the privilege of elaborate
costume; and that white gowns were devoted to home wear. And so much may
we accept with content, remembering the entirely novel _côte hardie_ with
gratitude as one novelty in the century. Perhaps it would be greedy to
demand more.



CHAPTER V

IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY


Extravagance to the fantastic point pursued its outrageous way in the
fifteenth century; the dresses were tightly belted at the waist, and
trailed long lengths upon the floor, while the flat collars of velvet or
fur pointed towards the front and were cut to display a square stomacher,
and the sleeves indulged themselves with many diversions, small ruffles
appearing to finish those which were tight at the wrists. The celebrated,
never-to-be-forgotten horned head-dresses stuffed with tow made their
appearance in England in the reign of Henry V., the reign of Henry VI.
having the privilege of welcoming these in heart-shape; and large turbans
in Turkish form found favour with the women during the greater part of
the reign of Edward IV.

[Illustration: AN ELABORATE HEAD-DRESS IN THE REIGN OF HENRY V.]

The fashion of bordering dresses and skirts with deep flounces of fur
and velvet was introduced rather late in the century, and silken girdles
of conspicuous width were held up by jewelled clasps, and innumerable
gold chains fell round the neck. The round cap, covered by a kerchief
hanging to the ground, was popular, and the steeple form of head-dress
with pendent drapery tucked under the arm was a distinctive feature of
the time. Head-dress in the reign of Henry V. was perhaps as exquisitely
ridiculous as it was ridiculously exquisite, but, whatever its faults,
it possessed the supreme virtue of being becoming. What face would not
look well under the influence of such a head-dress as that sketched on
this page? Picture it made soft and white beneath a turban of colour, and
with jewels flanking it on either side beneath. The horned head-dress
looked its best--and that it had a best is no questionable point--in
jewelled velvet, when beneath it fell a long veil in graceful folds. The
picture on page 42 shows a head-dress accurately planned upon a perfectly
fitting frame, with white at the top and back, and jewelled velvet as an
outline for the ear-pieces, while the band of white across the front is
lawn, again traced with a colour. The sugar-loaf head-dress was usually
ornamented with a band of black velvet embroidered in gold.

[Illustration: ELIZABETH OF WOODVILLE.]

There is a fine record of Elizabeth of Woodville in the British
Museum, her hair pale yellow in colour, arranged with a small curl on
the forehead, and brought up under a high crown, with large closed
arches whence it falls, the points of the arches being finished with
_fleurs-de-lys_. Her dress is of gold brocaded in blue, and the sleeves
are tight-fitting; ermine outlines the shoulders, and a crimson scarf
does its picturesque duty as a girdle, and a broad hem of ermine outlines
the skirt, which is very full and has an extremely long train; and
beneath the dress we are allowed a peep of a blue petticoat and pointed
shoes. Several of the ladies attendant upon all this elegance have the
privilege of appearing with her in the illumination, in high caps with
the hair drawn through the top, short-waisted gowns, and trains with fur
borders. Another gown which had the advantage of serving royalty was
close-fitting and short-waisted, with tight sleeves, embroidered cuffs,
and a collar which took almost the form of a small cape, held in front
with a square brooch jewelled in the centre, and bearing three pendants.
A row of pearls defined the edge of the _décolletage_, a necklace of gold
encircled the throat, and the flat, close-fitting cap was embroidered in
gold.

Elizabeth of Woodville is represented on the previous page in a close,
slightly-pointed coif made of a trellis of ribbon and jewelled above the
cap of black, the filmy white veil hanging over these with much grace;
and the bodice of her velvet dress, which is cut round to show a fine
linen chemisette, bears collar and cuffs of embroidery.

[Illustration: VARIETIES OF THE HENNIN.]

The hennin reached its height of popularity in every sense of the word
in the reign of Edward V. Briefly it may be described as a lawn kerchief
stiffened with canes or wires, these kerchiefs being plain or diapered
with gold, the frame projecting outward from the back of the head, and
beneath it the hair is gathered up into a caul of gold or embroidery. The
original hennin was a tall funnel-shaped tube in brocade worked in beads
and fixed firmly on the head, and from the top floated a fine veil. The
"little hennin" was a short head-dress covered by a veil which fell over
the shoulders. The hennins--and you can see many examples decorating
the coloured page--were large or small, plain or decorated, as the
individual fancy might dictate, and their adoption was common alike to
England and to France, where they afforded a complete change from their
predecessors, the small _béguins_ or hoods, and shared favour with the
two-horned head-dresses, with horns about a yard high. The linen for the
hennin was stiff, to help the fine wire or cane frames to do their duty
with greater success; and to accentuate further their importance there
were great wings on either side, so widely set that the passing of a
doorway was a difficulty.

[Illustration: THE HORNED HEAD-DRESS.]

Priests and husbands inveighed alike against this fashion, and one monk
felt its absurdities so acutely that he rode through the provinces,
deploring the excess of the hennin as of equal gravity with that of
gambling and the throwing of dice. He preached this doctrine so plausibly
that he induced the easily-aroused populace to chase in the streets the
women who were wearing the hennin, and even to spatter them with mud or
pelt them with stones. Such enthusiasm, however, like the photographs of
Hiawatha, "failed completely"; and after the departure of the prophet,
hennins grew and ever grew, and they were decked with jewels and hung
with chains, and all the best obtainable prodigalities of fashion were
consecrated to their honour.

[Illustration: HEAD-DRESS Of JEWELLED VELVET AND LAWN.]

Attention was given, not only to the horned head-dress, which developed
into two high points curled inward with pendent veils from the tops, but
also to the turban, made after the fashion of those worn in the East. It
had thick rolls of silk or velvet round the head, the hair being pulled
up the centre and worn hanging down the back, a drapery assisting in the
Oriental effect. The escoffion--for which, although it is said to have
been introduced by England, there is no English word--is crescent-shaped
like a turban; and a cap which received some patronage was heart-shaped,
made of embroidered material decked with a trellis-work of braid
ornamented with beads, the wide band in front being set with precious
stones, which again took the form of a heart as they rested upon the
forehead. The women of the middle classes wore cloth caps and bands of
material twisted round the head, with wings on either side.

Early in the fifteenth century the scolloped sleeves were introduced, and
the dresses were cut in one in front, and separated at the back with a
sort of basque.

To France we owe the _houppelande_, worn alike by men and women, and
seemingly obsessed by the virtue of comfort. It bears close kinship to
the dressing-gown of to-day, and had at its best a battlemented border
outlined by some contrasting stuff or trimming. It developed various
extravagances of decorations and breadth, but you may see it well shown
in its earliest form in the picture on this page.

[Illustration: THE HOUPPELANDE.]

At the end of the fifteenth century the dresses, well supplied with
large full sleeves, were invariably cut square at the neck, and bore
stomachers jewelled or embroidered, and beneath these were buckles, or
belts or rich girdles with long pendants, like the one illustrated,
which is worn round the hips and fastened in front with three clasps and
tassels. Side by side with this appears the pointed shoe of the period;
made in red patterned with white, it has charms which are obtrusive if
not convincing, though they served to inspire some preacher in France,
more violent than holy, to denounce them as "an outrage against the
Creator."

[Illustration: A GIRDLE.]

[Illustration: A POINTED SHOE.]

The famous Agnes Sorel had considerable influence over the fashions of
her day, and she practised exaggeration with audacity: her hennin was
taller than any other, her skirts were longer, and her bodices lower;
and she would band her forehead and encircle her throat with the most
magnificent jewels.

Elizabeth of York had a fancy for veils richly jewelled at the border and
arranged to form a hood and fall down either side of the face, the hair
being plainly parted on her forehead. The picture on the opposite page
shows her wearing a full gown of silk brocade, with a border of ermine
decorating the hem of this and the sleeves, and putting in its appearance
again straight across the bodice and down the centre of the front. On
her head hangs a stiff mitred head-dress, the inner rim being outlined
with jewels, and her pendent veil reaches nearly to the waist.

[Illustration: ELIZABETH OF YORK.]

Not being content with the weight of brocades and silks they had to
carry, the women burdened themselves with canes with handles bearing
the image of a bird. They carried fans, too, and collected from Spain
perfumed gloves made of kid or silk, with the backs embroidered in gold
or silver; the glove, however, was punctiliously removed when the hand
was given in greeting.

France exhibited a nice sense of colour, and the most popular combination
was a veil of white tissue, a girdle of green wrought with gold, and a
glimpse of violet under-skirt below a brocaded dress "set off with black
shoes."

The _côte hardie_ was improved by being cut open in a point in front,
with revers upon the shoulders, and a lappet of velvet or brocade was
used to fill in the opening, and, turning back, revealed some delicate
tissue of gauze and lace.

The noble ladies of Germany affected much simplicity, adopting this
attitude in contrast to that of the burghers' wives and daughters. Their
costume was narrow in cut, the close-fitting skirt widening as it reached
the ground. The bodices were cut low off the shoulders, laced in front,
with tightly-fitting sleeves that buttoned the whole length, and were
finished by cuffs extending over the hands. The over-dress had wide
sleeves and a long train laced below the waist behind, the fulness held
at the bust with a girdle. Mantles were of a semicircular shape, with
a long train fastening to the front with a buckle, or finished with a
turnover collar held in place with ribbons on the shoulders. The shorter
mantle known as the "tappert" was open at each side, and had a large
upstanding collar and hood, and married women affected a circular cloak
gathered at the neck by a cord and falling in voluminous folds to the hem.

Young girls and matrons braided their hair, or parted it simply in the
centre, and rolled it in two portions bound with ribbon or twisted
fillets; these rolls, brought over the ears to form a frame for the
face, were held in a gold net, with a jewelled pendant in the centre.
A favourite cap had a thickly ruched border, and another, known as the
Burgundian, had a high conical crown with a rounded point, and was worn
over a kerchief with the veil floating behind. Gold bands and crowns
rested on the hair, a rectangular kerchief folded in two receiving
some attention. Shoes were made open with points, and wooden clogs and
goloshes expressed the Teuton caution.

As the century drew to its close further license was visible. High
dress was the exception, all bodices being round with slight points,
the shoulders uncovered, and the back cut down as low as the waist; and
sleeves exhibited much diversity of design, being at times narrow and
at others full, and then again falling far below the hands, or reaching
up to the elbow, ornamented with slashings. Over-dresses were laced at
the back, and invariably the openings were filled in with the chemise,
or a folded fichu, or an embroidered plastron. Men and women alike wore
wonderful chemisettes with wide borders embroidered with silk, or
wrought with pearls, and fur was a decoration beloved of both sexes.

Fur adorns the short over-sleeve of the coat sketched on page 52; and the
wearer, it would seem, had infinitely better fortune in the selection of
his vest and soft shirt than in his mushroom hat, which, made of cloth
and stitched, could not have failed to be at least trying to the most
perfect beauty.

Trains extended themselves when the waists of the bodices grew shorter,
and the dresses were gathered in front, pleats falling from the bust or
just below the short waist. The girdles appeared just below the armpits,
and the sleeves were so long that they had to be turned back from the
wrists, the scolloped border appearing on those which were wide and
wing-shaped.

In France and England splendour followed upon splendour; even the
prayer-books did not escape the general craze for elaboration and
decoration, their covers being emblazoned with jewels and silken
embroidery. Jewels glittered round every fair neck and on every fair
head; and all heads were fair, assisted by art when nature denied such
grace.

The hair and the train were the conspicuous points of magnificence, and
fashion, playing the game of heads and tails, allowed them both to win
her best attention.



CHAPTER VI

IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY


The Tudor period brought an extraordinary revolution in dress, the first
important change taking place in the sleeves, which were now of different
material and different colour from the gown. Several pairs of sleeves
would be allotted to each gown, and were necessarily made detachable,
while in shape they were full and puffed, padded and quilted and slashed
and fitting tightly; and the square-necked, short-waisted style of dress
was punctilious in a display of a stomacher and a full train.

Cloth of gold was the favourite fabric, being used alike for decoration
as for garments, and indeed gold asserted itself on every rich material,
and there was a silver taffeta embroidered in gold; and a damask of
crimson or yellow wrought with gold offered itself persuasively for fur
trimming, lynx and sable and marten accepting the responsibility with
zeal.

The fair footed it bravely in low shoes adorned with large ribbon
Tudor roses, which were also allotted the delicate duty of ornamenting
elaborate garters. The plainer variety of shoe was of wood covered with
velvet or leather, stitched with silk and fastened with buckles or
rosettes; and a wooden shoe in vogue was known as the pantoffle, and
not unlike that chopine worn in Italy at this time and later, when it
attained the pinnacle of the preposterous. This shoe was, however, known
in England only in a modified form.

None of the fashions of the day could truthfully be called comfortable.
Comfort obviously was banished from consideration, and each innovation
during the sixteenth century shows its demands more and more disregarded.

The hoop appeared, and held the best affections in its grasp of iron,
wood, or whalebone, the indispensable edicts against it following quickly
upon its popularity. Rich and poor alike fell victims to its aggressive
charms, and alike insisted upon its wear, and, on the occasion of her
marriage with Prince Arthur of Wales, Catherine of Medici wore the dress
of Spain and a mantilla bordered with gold and precious stones, and her
skirt was distended by several hoops.

The wives of that merry polygamist Henry VIII. were sympathetically
attached to beautiful clothes, and Anne Boleyn is credited with wearing
a cap of blue velvet trimmed with golden bells, and a vest of velvet
starred with silver, and over it a surcoat of watered silk lined with
miniver, with large pendent sleeves; blue velvet brodequins were on her
feet, with a diamond star on each instep, and above her long curls was
placed an aureole of plaited gold. It is a well-known fact that Anne,
because of some slight deformity of the hand, held affectionately to the
charms of the hanging sleeve after it had been discarded in favour of the
full puffed and slashed sleeve. There is an attractive picture of her
by Holbein, with the hair drawn from her forehead in small curls, and a
plait hanging from the top of the head over one ear, the crown being worn
rather far back and kept in place by a jewelled caul.

To Spain historians have granted the laurel of the ruff, which became
first popular in England in the reign of Henry VIII.; and Anne Boleyn
introduced lappets made of velvet and adorned with precious stones,
either pointed at the hem or square and broad.

During those days the length of the gown denoted the rank of the wearer,
countesses and baronesses and ladies of lower degree stamping their
estate upon the dimensions of their train. Embroidery decorated the
gowns and petticoats alike, many of the dresses being cut open in front
to display a satin kirtle and an apron embroidered in gold and many
colours. The bodice of the dress sometimes differed in colour from the
skirt, and the sleeves would match the skirt; and there was much variety
in head-dress, the velvet cap tasselled and set with jewels above a
floating veil being a popular style. But cauls, coifs, and French hoods,
and the high bands in front, were in evidence, together with a white
three-cornered cap, the original no doubt of the Marie Stuart cap of
succeeding years.

The men were as prodigal as the women, and spared no expense or time
or thought in their pursuit of the sumptuous and the elegant; their
shoes and garters and hats glittered with gems, and they wore rings and
chains in profusion, raising the trades of tailors and goldsmiths and
cloth-makers to supreme importance. Jack of Newbury, a famous cloth
merchant of the time of Henry VIII., is described as appearing before
that monarch in a plain russet coat and a pair of white kersey slops,
the stockings of the same piece being sewn to his slops. Slops was a
term developed from "slip," and signified any garment easily adjusted,
and an example of its use occurs in _Much Ado About Nothing_, a phrase
running "as, a German from the waist downward, all slops"; hence may the
suspicious glean that the Teuton habit of costume was not mainly trim.

[Illustration: IN THE TIME OF HENRY VII.]

Men yielded to the general craze for an expanded hip, wearing great
breeches stuffed with hair or bran or wool, and exhibiting no less
than feminine enthusiasm in the width of their ruffles. Their hose, of
different detail, was either of cloth or silk, and blazed with colour,
being ornamented with gold or threads of Venetian silver, though the King
himself preferred cloth hose, which also had the honour of decorating
Queen Elizabeth, until she chanced to meet with the silk stocking, to
which she thereafter clung with tenacity.

Jane Seymour's coronation dress was of her faithless spouse's favourite
material, cloth of gold; all his wives seem to have been obliging enough
to yield to his fancy for this extravagance, and this poor lady's choice
was decorated with a raised design of embroidery and pearls, and the
stomacher beneath was thickly encrusted with jewels, while her surcoat
was of purple velvet bordered with ermine and embroidered with gold, and
a jewelled velvet caul was on her head. Anne of Cleves endeavoured to
popularise the Dutch fashion of a gown without a train, and she was as
much a failure in this as in her other ambitions. Catharine Parr, the
last of the noble six, had a gown of cloth of gold made with a sleeve
quite tight at the shoulder, bordered at the elbow with fur, and showing
beneath a slashed and puffed under-sleeve, finished by a small ruffle at
the wrist.

Mary inherited her father's love of splendour and costly apparel, and her
favourite head-dress was of cloth of gold, and her gowns were generally
of velvet trimmed with fur and jewelled. Elizabeth devoted herself to
fashion in a frank, whole-hearted way that brooked no half-measures,
and amongst her terrors of death must have been parting with her gowns,
for she died possessed of no fewer than three thousand dresses. What a
harvest for the ladies-in-waiting or the dealers of the day to gather!
Her crimson locks she piled high up in curls and puffs, surmounted by
crowns of jewels, and her sleeves and hooped skirts were padded into
diamond design traced with embroidery, and every point would hold a
pendent jewel. She showed no desire to achieve grace or elegance below
the waist; nothing more entirely unbecoming to the feminine figure can be
imagined than the tight, hard, flat, narrow bodice terminating in a point
at the front, cut off at the waist on the hips, above the monstrously
distended petticoat. The over-part of the dress and the skirt beneath
it were boned and wired, and tight lacing ruled in an injurious degree,
though the enormous sleeves, ruffles, and skirts might well have accorded
such an effect of slimness as to render stringent measures unnecessary.

Dress was a magnificent affair altogether; velvet and taffeta and fine
scarlet cloth were used, lace played its part bravely, and silken scarves
fringed with gold and silver were thrown over the shoulders, with deep
capes of satin or velvet edged with lace. Every shape and length of
garment obtained, and the only extravagance from which dress did not
suffer was in the _décolletage_, which was narrow and straight and of
dimensions eminently decent.

[Illustration: A TRIO OF RUFFS.]

[Illustration: QUEEN ELIZABETH IN FULL DRESS.]

Elizabeth introduced the whalebone corset, and hers might well have
been called the "wire and whalebone age," for the influence of these
was needed for the petticoats, the gowns and stays, and it had a
considerable share in the good conduct of the ruffles which extended
some nine inches from the neck. In France the ruffles were so enormous
that they hardly allowed their wearers to turn their heads at all, and
courtiers who affected them were provided with long-handled spoons to
enable them to take their soup in comfort. These huge ruffs were trimmed
with lace outlined with wire threads to ensure sufficient stiffness,
a demand creating the supply of starch, which made its appearance in
this century, being introduced by the wife of Elizabeth's coachman, who
established herself as Lady High Laundress of the Court, and made at once
a competence and a reputation. Ruffs were of yellow as well as white,
and yellow too were some of the extensive lace collars jewelled and
embroidered in gold, which with wired edges outlined the shoulders of all
dresses worn on state occasions.

Pins and ribbons were first brought into use in the reign of Elizabeth,
and really to her interest in the subject of fashion we owe much. Silk
stockings amongst other things, such as cosmetics, face washes and
perfumes, and embroidered and scented gloves, and fans made of ostrich or
peacock feathers with gold and silver handles, were adopted by the men as
well as by the women.

Of the many head-dresses favoured by Elizabeth one resembled a cushion,
ornamented with jewels; another, known as a ship-tire, left the neck and
shoulders bare; and another, dubbed the tire valiant, was made of many
kerchiefs, so disposed as to allow only the nose, eyes, and mouth to be
visible.

In the early days of the sixteenth century dress in France was somewhat
simple, but about 1550 tastes altered and every kind of trimming was
eagerly sought and found, and the lappets, which became a popular
addition to the head-dress, displayed jewelled borders or golden tassels
in the shape of a flower. The hair fell in curls about the face and on
the neck, and in a long description which we have from Rabelais, of a
dress of the period in Paris, there is mention of a beautiful bouquet of
feathers, a panache, which matched the muff, and was thickly spangled
with gold. To him also we owe an excellent account of crimson stockings
with the edges embroidered three inches above the knee, and of garters
of elaborate detail to hold these, and of shoes and slippers of crimson
or violet velvet to complete them. Attire consisted of a chemise worn
beneath a corset of silk camlet, a hood of silk, and above this a
_cotte_ in silver tissue embroidered in gold. In summer the Parisian
wore, instead of a dress, wraps made in a loose burnous style of velvet
seamed with pearls, and no costume was complete without its rosary, its
girdle, jewelled necklaces and bracelets. The most popular head-dress
was a velvet hood with a hanging curtain, and the turban wound its
graceful way above a network of pearls or precious stones. Muffs received
much attention and elaboration, fur and lace and jewels alike being
dedicated to their service, and in their depths would nestle the dog or
monkey or marmoset whose mistress counted such a pet in her armoury of
attractions. A description of a _robe montante_, which appears to have
been comparatively a _négligé_, not permitted the honour of attending
Court functions, shows it cut square in the neck, with a collar of fine
cambric finished with a small ruff, the sleeves, puffed and slashed and
fitting tightly to the wrists, being of a different material from the
dress; and in France, as in England, rank determined the length of the
train, queens burdening themselves with no less than six yards.

[Illustration: A CHEMISETTE.]

[Illustration: AN ITALIAN LADY.]

In the early days of this century turban head-dresses were popular in
Italy, and slashed and puffed sleeves were trimmed with ribbon. It is
interesting to note that the women of Genoa were bound by law to wear a
dress of plain cloth, but that their under-garments were of the richest
silks, and shoes and hose were costly details. The sketch on page 59
shows an Italian lady under attractive conditions, with a stomacher and
collar traced with a raised design of gold outlined with pearls, and
puffed sleeves tied with ribbons tagged with metal; and, covering her
hair, is a close coif edged with pearls. Italian also are the two heads
illustrated, lace and jewels and ribbons being used for their adornment.
The Italian gentleman wears a full-crowned cap of velvet, and a cloth
coat showing slashings and collar of velvet, the lawn frill inside the
collar being repeated at the wrists of the sleeves, whose detail of
slashing may well be left to the imagination.

[Illustration: TWO ITALIAN COIFFURES.]

[Illustration: AN ITALIAN GENTLEMAN.]

Spain was faithful to the horned head-dress late into the sixteenth
century; and talking of Spain, I am reminded of that illustration
opposite, where a sixteenth-century Spaniard is exploiting an unusual
form of trunk, in cut-out cloth, showing white beneath, and buttoned with
straps on to the hose. His white shirt is slashed, and from the double
collar falls a tassel; tassels are pendent from the drapery of the long
gold-bordered cloak, and a gold net appears beneath the characteristic
cap of velvet.

[Illustration: A SPANIARD IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.]

[Illustration: A SHOULDER-JACKET.]

The picture on page 64 of Maximilian of fame shows him brave in
upstanding felt hat, encircled with flaunting feathers, and beneath this
a striped scarf is bound round his head, and the monstrous sleeves have
slashings of colour. Tassels dangle from the scarf beneath the chin and
over either ear, and bold bows assert themselves above one knee, and
claim their right to hold the folds of his sash in front.

A sixteenth-century sacque coat in its original sin--or grace--appears
illustrated on the left, with sleeves slashed and the armholes bearing
padded rolls on the top. The inner vest has a high collar boned to stand
out at the back, and the helmet-shaped hat is trimmed with bands of
braid buttoned with gold, with two feathers waving at one side.

[Illustration: THE CAPE WITH BUTTONED SLEEVE.]

Another edition of the helmet-shaped hat, far less successful, however,
in the interests of beauty, decorates the right-hand figure, which bears
round the neck a wonderful ruff, and gives a capital idea of a strange
form of cape buttoned down the sleeve, gathered slightly in the process,
and bordered with a band of plain colour.

[Illustration: MAXIMILIAN.]

Fair and sweet looks the maiden on page 58 beneath the kilted frill of
her cap, and her little bodice shows her chemisette of white lawn tied
in front with small bows.

"I will ruffle it with the best of them" was distinctly the determination
of the valiant queen who smiles upon you on page 56. Lace forms her huge
collar and her pendent lappets, and tightly round her throat sits a lace
ruffle; an audacious feather stands rampant on top of her crown, and
beneath this is a cap bordered with jewels, curved at one side to allow a
good view of her curled head, where the flat cap of jewels holds a golden
pendant in the centre of her forehead.

Far more demure are the ruffle and cap which appear on page 55 beneath
the closely-hooded mantle, and severity marks the net and lace of the
dame whose hair is entwined with pearls; and a typical Medici collar of
lace is elaborately wired to form a frame to the fair head, upon which
jewels and feathers alike disport themselves.

In this century fashion was playing the woman who often varies, and
La Bruyère in reviewing the situation says: "A fashion has no sooner
supplanted some other fashion than its place is taken by a new one,
which in turn makes way for the next, and so on; such is the feebleness
of our character. While these changes are taking place a century has
rolled away, relegating all this finery to the dominion of the past." And
writing in the twentieth century, I can see some satisfaction in that.



CHAPTER VII

IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY


Familiarity has bred respect, even affection, for the typical costume of
Charles I.'s reign, and that unfortunate monarch himself, depicted by
Van Dyck in sombre coat and lace collar, is amongst the dear intimacies
of our daily life. Sir Peter Lely, who followed on the footsteps of
Van Dyck, left many modish records of his time, and though he has
been rated for dressing his nymphs in inappropriate extravagances of
fringes and embroidery, he undoubtedly clothed lovely woman with an
excellent fantasy, bestowing height and grace by the length and simple
disposition of his drapery. Mignard, the French artist, also wrote a page
in fashion's history in his paintings of the Court ladies as Madonnas;
covering the vanities of the sinner with the mantle of the saint, he was
much sought after for his pains.

The main features of feminine costume in Charles I.'s reign may be
realised in recalling the dresses which have so often appeared to delight
us in the various presentations of stage plays of his period; the bodice
is tight, the basque square and tabbed, and round the waist are a few
folds of silk fastened into a rosette in the front; the lace collar
falls from the neck to the shoulders in deep points, and the ringleted
hair bears a ribbon rosette, or is surmounted by a plumed hat.

[Illustration: A FEATHER AND A CHICKEN-SKIN FAN.]

Henrietta, Queen of Charles I., is accredited with the introduction
of female labour for clothing the outer woman, and from her day
mantle-making ranked among female occupations. But the tailor still ruled
supreme, and though the sex of the milliner was the more sympathetic, it
was left to the next century to popularise feminine services.

The farthingale extended its circumference in the reign of James I., when
much effort was taken to suppress it, for the King declared it occupied
more room at his court than he himself. The ruff flourished, but less
obtrusively than in the preceding reigns, and in its place was adopted
what was known as a fall, a loose band overhanging the top of a wide
collar starched and frilled at the base--a fancy some merry writer of the
period noted with the epigram:

    A question 'tis why women wear a fall?
    The truth on't is, to pride they're given all,
    And pride, the proverb says, will have a fall.

With the farthingale were worn long sleeves, lace coifs, and fluted
basques, and stomachers; and later the long sleeves were replaced by
those reaching the elbow, made in puffs tied with bows or tightly fitting
and bordered with frills. Beneath the panier of the full skirt, which was
trimmed with many bands of gold and embroidery, appeared a frilled apron,
and the bodices were high at the back, and cut square in front, and over
the shoulders was worn a scarf. Muffs were indispensable, and heads were
decorated in monstrous disproportion.

[Illustration: A FULL APRON.]

The kings' favourites in France influenced dress by their caprices,
which made to some extent for beauty, not conspicuously evident when the
_fontanges_ head-decoration was in vogue. This was a polyglot erection
which owed its birth to the fact that the famous beauty, losing her
hat one day in the hunting-field, tied her hair with her garter. The
_fontanges_ extended its glories to a framework of wire half a yard in
height, which was divided into several tiers, each being covered with a
different material; ribbon, chenille, pearls, flowers, and muslin were
all brought into service, and beneath these a cluster of curls fell on
the forehead. Each tier might take a different name, and amongst these,
duke, cabbage, cat, organ-pipe, and mouse were chosen with as much rhyme
as reason. But the christening of fashions was a common habit, and when
Paris was reduced to misery by the Ligue, and depression was written
large upon the dress, which, cut square and heavy in style, bore about
it a suggestiveness of architecture, colours were distinguished by such
quaint names as "Dying Monkey," "The Sick Spaniard," etc. Like the girl
in some comic opera, "I wonder why?"

Mlle. de Ninon and Mesdames de Montespan and de Maintenon each inspired
the names of a coiffure, a crown, and a cap, the last lady giving its
title to a head-dress in the form of a scarf entwining a helmet. The
battle of Steinkirk stood sponsor to a cravat and to a three-cornered
fichu trimmed with gold and silver fringes; and the "Ninon" coiffure was
parted in the front and flowed in curls at either side, the back being
held by a ribbon.

No such distinction was gained by the English "mistresses" and maids of
honour, whose names and escapades were legion; nor did they seek much
individuality in their clothes, confident that the fashions prevailing
were sufficient to excite the envy of the one sex and the admiration of
the other; yet Lady Castlemaine, Miss Hamilton, Miss Warmestre, Miss
Jennings, Miss Temple, Miss Price, Miss Stewart, and all the rest of the
merry gang, were slaves of the mirror, and the joys of the masquerade
were high in their favour, and for this no costume was too extravagantly
absurd or too absurdly extravagant to obtain their satisfaction.

[Illustration: THE LACE COMMODE.]

The distinguishing feature of fashion was the lace commode, which
prevailed ubiquitously; its simplest charms are easily realised by
the pictures on these pages, where, too, are evident examples of the
_chopine_ and the clogs, whose _pas de fascination_ were executed under
such disadvantages. High heels were conspicuous everywhere, but it was
left to Italy to have the honour of popularising the most ridiculous
fashion of the _chopines_ or stilted clogs, which asserted themselves at
different heights, mostly outrageous, beneath a covering of gauffered
leather, a commodity which looks like the modern poker-work. The idea of
the _chopines_ was imported from Turkey to Italy and thence to England,
where, however, it is well to mention, it received but the scantiest
consideration. The height of the _chopines_ served to indicate rank,
and some were of such monstrous inconvenience that they necessitated
their wearer being supported on either side while she walked. Every
conceivable device was sought for the decoration of the shoes, and a
frenzy of extravagance broke out in buckles of gold, silver, paste, and
diamonds.

[Illustration: CLOGS AND CHOPINES.]

Charles II., from long residence in France, had much sympathy with
fashion, which was beloved of men and women, who patronised the lace
collar, the muff, the fanciful buttons, and feathers with equal
enthusiasm. The sexes, too, shared a love for curls and the hats of broad
brims, whose flopping habits proved so inconvenient that they were turned
up first at one side and then at the other, and lastly at the back, when
they developed into the well-loved cocked hat. Hat-bands were prominently
important, made either of cord in silver or gold or silk, and glorified
by the addition of jewels for the gay and witty Duke of Buckingham, who
changed his love as often as his coat, and showed a prodigal appreciation
of the arts of gallantry and costume. He led many of the fashions for
men, and added to these a conspicuous number of ribbons, buckles, and
cravats. He spared his friends neither his wit nor his money, and Dryden
epitomised his fall: "He had his jest, while they had his estate."

Two manufactures which were accorded prominent attention in these times
were the linen and button manufactures, the former being made from the
yarn obtained in Ireland, while for the latter, inspiration came from
various parts of the Continent. Steel, brass and copper, and jet were
used to make these buttons, and their value is quoted from 3d. to 140
guineas per gross. Fairholt, writing on the subject, says: "Buttons were
made sometimes like a picture, the back dark, upon which, in various
degrees of relief, were placed in ivory or bone, figures and flowers.
Others showed elegant patterns in white upon gilt, and many most tasteful
appeared on Court suits, these being made of mother-of-pearl or ivory,
the centre embellished with patterns in gilt."

Muslin came generally into use under such flimsy conditions that it
was described by some writer as costing "some 30s. per yard, and being
but the shadow of a commodity when procured." India was the happy
hunting-ground for muslins till Flanders and Germany took up its cause
and, in the eighteenth century, Bolton and Glasgow granted it special
attention.

Elegance characterised many of the prevailing modes, which encouraged a
conspicuous simplicity, when the superabundance of jewellery and most
elaborate trimmings decreased to some extent, and a simple string of
pearls was worn round the neck, and the studied _négligé_ became the
highest expression of coquetry. The hair was curled into ringlets, and
amidst these nestled a single rose or a chaplet of pearls; and at the
sides it was slightly puffed over the ears, with some support of pad or
wire to secure its righteous bearing.

Women of the lower classes wore muslin caps with ribbons twisted round
them, but what lovely hats were obtainable by the wealthy! Above the long
ringlets huge plumes waved over a hat of straw, or the velvet cap would
be covered with feathers. Hair-dressing was a fine art, and many were the
styles in which the ringlets were treated; they would be cut to graduated
lengths, short in front and long at the back, or would only obtain at
each side of the face and round the neck, the main portion of hair being
drawn up on the top; or the hair was cut rather short, and curled over
the head, while black ribbons and pearls decorated it.

[Illustration: A MOB-CAP.]

The cultivation of beauty was earnest and intelligent, and all ladies
of high degree owned amongst their retinue starchers and brushers, and
the position of patches had a political significance according to the
opinions of the fair patched. The patch, by the way, was brought into
fame about 1655; though, owing its first existence to the times of the
Romans, it cannot conscientiously claim this to be the date of its birth.

The house coats and gowns and petticoats were quilted, and being made of
silk from Japan, China, and Persia and trimmed with Flemish lace, may be
freely granted a cosmopolitan sympathy. An attractive description of a
dress of this time tells of a musk-coloured silk shot with silver, with
trails of silver flowers, trimmed with white bone lace, whose importation
from foreign lands excited the displeasure of Charles II. Lace was a
triumphant feature, being indispensable for the commodes, the frilled
cravats, and the collars. It was useful alike to men and women, and
beautiful specimens of lace were enriched with gold and silver under the
auspices of Venice and Spain. Mazarin had, in endeavouring to stay the
popular greed for lace, caused a small social revolution, and the French
bought lace from England. Colbert was wiser in his generation, for he
set up a factory at Alençon, and Brussels and Mechlin devoted themselves
assiduously and most successfully to lace.

Amongst the vain efforts of an earlier period in France was one to kill
fashion, whose reckless prodigality had been voted insupportable, and
like to bring ruin to the people. A contemporary print shows the funeral
of fashion, the design being of fashion led by four women and followed by
a crowd of workpeople, while a sarcophagus in the background bears the
following epitaph:--

    Here lies under this picture, for having deserved it,
    Fashion, which caused so much madness in France.
    Death has put superfluity to death,
    And will soon revive abundance.

But Louis XIV. was so appreciative of the charms of costume that he
would distribute all materials, silks and satins and brocades, to his
courtiers, and exercise some jurisdiction over the way these were to be
made. Painting on silk and satin was amongst the novelties of his reign,
but embroidery still held the affections of the prodigal, and at a fête
at Vaux, Mlle. de la Vallière is recorded to have worn a gown of white
with golden stars and leaves in Persian stitch, and a blue sash tied in
a large knot upon her bosom, while her fair waving hair, entwined with
flowers and pearls, fell in profusion about her neck and shoulders, and
her gloves were of cream-coloured lace. A gold dress embroidered with
gold is also included in the chronicles, and there were double borders
of gold and silver to many of the under-skirts, which were made of silk
or satin with a long train which was carried over the left arm. Bodices
were trimmed with galon, ribbon, and lace, and Madame de Sévigné writes
of the "transparent gown," whose descendant lives to-day in our lace and
jet frocks over tissue.

[Illustration: GLOVE WITH JEWELLED GAUNTLET.]

The Duchess of Bourgogne showed her nice taste in a gown of silver tissue
with gold flowers outlined with orange and green, and again in a grey
damask bordered with silver; and the same record tells of a mantilla of
gold Spanish point lace, and of a coat and skirt of cloth of silver laced
with silver, and worn with diamonds and rubies. "All werry capital," as
Sam Weller might have observed, had he only heard of them.

Amongst the desirable and the desired was a blue camlet waistcoat
embroidered and fringed with silver. Spanish broadcloth of the very
finest description was dedicated to waistcoats and to the hunting and
riding costumes which were as much masculine as feminine, and mainly
picturesque, with small rapiers to emphasise the manly tone. All hats
were feathered, and the cravats frilled, a state of affairs which excited
comment from that irrepressible critic Pepys, who granted it small
admiration when he wrote: "Walking in the galleries at White Hall I
find the ladies of honour dressed in their riding garbs with coats and
doublets and deep skirts, just for all the world like mine, and buttoned
their doublets up to the breast, with periwigs and hats, so that only for
a long petticoat dragging under their men's coats nobody could take them
for women in any point whatever. It was an odd sight, and a sight which
did not please me."

[Illustration: A RIDING COSTUME.]

But Pepys, in his immortal diary, did not pay proper respect to fashion.
He commented on the clothes of the ladies, it is true, but he showed a
lamentable vagueness, if not careless indifference, about their details.
Doubtless his notes on dress were quite satisfying to his masculine mind,
but I find them practically useless in assuaging the deepest emotions
of feminine curiosity. However, I know from him and other sources that
Nell Gwynn, the careless slattern, wore a cart-wheel hat when delivering
a prologue in a play, and furthermore that she "looked pretty" on one
occasion when Pepys passed her as she stood at her lodging door in
"smock-sleeves and a bodice," whatever such description might please to
mean. Colours, shapes, and materials this inimitable gossip ignored as
unimportant; yet it may be written down to his credit that he confessed
he was moved when he saw Lady Castlemaine's smocks and linen petticoats
hanging out to dry in the Privy garden at White Hall, laced with the
richest lace at the bottom which ever he saw, and he vows, "they did me
good to look at them"; and so much may we count for grace, even though I
sigh to think of the number of tucks and gaugings he failed to mention.

It is to be hoped that, after that painful interview with the riding
garb of the ladies at White Hall, he turned the other way and went back
to the Privy garden and his joyful contemplation of Lady Castlemaine's
under-wear.



CHAPTER VIII

IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY


Marie Stuart shares with Madame de Pompadour the honour of standing
godmother to fashions which will be known through the ages by their
names. The former luckless lady will ever be associated with that coif
which is pointed in the front, and curves at either side, while the
latter stands eternal sponsor to the rolled coiffure which turns back
from the face over a high pad. There may perhaps be other glories better
worth attainment, but nobody respectfully imbued with the importance of
dress can venture to assert that these ladies lived in vain.

[Illustration: IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.]

And in a minor degree their privilege has been shared by others. The art
of Gainsborough and of Watteau has immortalised a hat, a pleat, and a
flowered sac; Madame du Barry has a special shade of pink consecrated
to her memory; the lace collar which expands round the shoulders had at
its christening no less a person than Catherine de Medici; and Napoleon
gave his name to a hat. Of the more modern garments I could take as
examples the cardigan, a waistcoat of wool named after a noble lord; and
I could recall that another noble lord, one Spencer, introduced a short
woollen jacket; and that the great general Garibaldi is responsible
for the loose shirt with open collar; and that a peculiar kind of
open-sleeved bed-jacket, known as the nightingale, is sacred to the
heroic efforts of that devoted nurse who did such splendid duty at the
Crimea.

[Illustration: MADAME DE POMPADOUR.]

Madame de Pompadour represented in her century everything that was most
beautiful, most desirable, and most alluring, and she played her part
as pioneer of fashion with a fierce, reckless enthusiasm, and, from the
crown of her rolled hair to the tip of her embroidered shoes, expressed
conclusively the prodigal and the pretty. Upon her feet she bestowed
considerable attention, and narrow pointed shoes were amongst her
innovations; she would have them decked with every conceivable conceit,
and kick her red heels in defiance of public opinion. A pair of her shoes
are even now kept in the Museum at Cluny, and these are embroidered in
a design of green foliage, outlined with silver, clasped with silver
buckles glittering with old paste. Fans also were amongst her weaknesses;
she had these of every size and shape, with long handles which could not
be folded, and mounts of carved and decorated ivory, some of her Chinese
fans being worth a small fortune.

Mrs. Delany's letters may be the foundation for a liberal education in
the art of costume as practised in England in the eighteenth century,
and her description of Lady Huntingdon's dress at a Court ball is as
vivid as remarkable, reflecting at once credit on the Boswell and the
inspiration:--

     Her petticoat was of black velvet embroidered with chenille, the
     pattern a large stone vase filled with ramping flowers, which
     spread almost over the breadth of the petticoat from the top to
     the bottom; between each vase of flowers was a pattern of gold
     shells and foliage embossed and most heavily rich. The gown was
     white satin embroidered also with chenille mixed with gold, no
     vase on the sleeve, but two or three on the tail; it was a most
     laboured piece of finery, the pattern much properer for a stucco
     staircase than the apparel of a lady.

She also writes the description of a dress she is going to wear at the
wedding of Princess Anne (George II.'s eldest daughter) and Prince
William of Nassau and Orange in 1734:--

     I have got my wedding garment ready; 'tis a brocaded lute-string
     white ground, with great ramping flowers in shades of purples,
     reds, and greens. I gave thirteen shillings a yard: which looks
     better than it describes, and it will make a show. I shall wear it
     with dark purple and gold ribbon, and a black hood for decency's
     sake.

And again she describes:

     The Princess of Orange's dress was the prettiest thing that ever
     was seen--a _corps de robe_--that is, in plain English, a stiff
     bodied gown. The eight peers' daughters that held up her train
     were in the same sort of dress, all white and silver, with great
     quantities of jewels in their hair and long locks; some of them
     very pretty and well-shaped, it is a most becoming dress. The
     Princess wore a mantua and petticoat, white damask with the finest
     embroidery of rich embossed gold. On one side of her head she had
     a green diamond of vast size, the shape of a pear, and two pearls
     prodigiously large that were fastened to wires and hung loose in
     her hair; on the other side small diamonds prettily disposed; her
     ear-rings, necklace, and bars to her stays all extravagantly fine,
     presents of the Prince of Orange to her.

In the same letter she says: "The Queen commended my clothes."

In the reign of Louis XV. the English borrowed all their fashions from
France. The beautiful Austrian, Marie Antoinette, came in a blaze of
splendour to charm and astonish every one, and the loveliest ladies of
her Court, headed by her friend the Princess de Lamballe, vied with her
in inaugurating a reign of costume which was to have been "roses, roses
all the way." Alas, however, thorns made themselves felt only too soon.
In her early days the Queen seemed to have no care save that noble lover
of hers and her dressmaker; and she studied the minor details of the
etiquette of her Court so assiduously that we have the amusing history of
her disrobing, surrounded by a bevy of ladies, each taking their turn in
handing their royal mistress her chemise.

Marie Antoinette's delicate beauty called for pale colours, and green and
pink and puce were amongst the favoured tones, the last mentioned taking
its name from no more attractive source than the back of a flea. Her
earlier dresses displayed stiff pointed bodices with stomachers, held
with little tied bows of velvet, and paniers bunched liberally on the
hips to show the under-dress of lace, bordered with flounces, headed and
festooned with roses. The _décolletage_ was square, and the elbow sleeves
had frills of lace.

[Illustration: MARIE ANTOINETTE.]

The paniers grew daily in size, and evoked the inevitable denunciation
which waits punctually upon the heels of any favourite of fashion. Marie
Antoinette varied her corsets to suit her bodices, therein showing much
wisdom, since obviously the short-waisted bodice asks beneath it a stay
totally different from that needed beneath a bodice which is cut in a
long point in front. Her fichus were as elaborate as dainty, and the
method of their adjustment varied in half-a-dozen different ways--they
would be crossed over the bust and tied at the back, or tucked into
the waistband, or fastened high on the bust with bunches of ribbons or
flowers.

[Illustration: A PEIGNOIR.]

No garment more attractive can be imagined than the _déshabillé galant_:
a teagown of hers which was ruched from the neck round to the short
train, and displayed a frilled front of lace or muslin tied with ribbons,
and daintily flounced round the hem. Silks, satins, and brocades were
used to make these, but shot silk enjoyed supreme patronage; and the
favourite dressmaker, Madame Bertin, was a heroine of vast importance,
a genius of diplomatic habits, who played most successfully upon the
fancies of her royal patron, bringing her every day some new device in
paniers or sumptuous train which it was impossible to resist.

Marie Antoinette adored feathers, and the panache flourished under her
favour, and boldly survived her mother's reprimand. "You have sent me
the picture of an actress, not of a Queen," she wrote, upon receiving
a picture of her daughter in a prodigious head-dress of feathers and
jewels. Jewels, it is well known, were amongst Marie Antoinette's
weaknesses. Did not they inspire that romance of the Queen's necklace
which has pursued us for many years in various works of fiction and
drama, and is still regarded as vitally interesting?

[Illustration: A COIFFURE.]

[Illustration: A VARIETY OF HEAD-DRESSES ADOPTED IN THE EIGHTEENTH
CENTURY.]

But let me return to England, and repeat that French fashions were
treated with servility, if not with complete success, for somehow the
English women were too ponderously exact in their method of adjustment
to toy triumphantly with the many accessories of lace, and ribbon,
and velvet, and buckles, and ruchings which were essentially the
distinguishing features of these styles. And, also, the small feet of the
French women encouraged much attention to dainty shoes, with coloured
heels and embroidered toes, and to these the national deficiencies or
superfluities of the English women were rather a drawback. However, they
followed the French fashions at a distance, and bestowed most earnest
attention upon hair-dressing, which assumed formidable proportions
during this period, and rose higher and ever higher, to be topped by
ornaments as incongruous, as hideous. The skilful hair-dresser who
could "build" a head was at a premium; the art of hair-dressing being
reckoned as one of the most important, and as rare as difficult. No
lady's maid, however clever, was entrusted with this difficult task,
and very complicated was the work of constructing the popular coiffure,
which was piled half a yard high, and decked with pads, and false hair,
and curls so stuck down and plastered with pomades that they might hold
for weeks without being pulled down. So monumental were these erections
that collapsible frames had to be made, so that ladies could pass through
doors and get into their sedan-chairs. Windmills and ships in full sail,
fruit and balls were added to the pile, and ostrich plumes nodded boldly
amongst a profusion of ribbons and flowers.

The aristocratic was of course the only class that could afford these
most elaborate styles, where so much curling and frizzing appeared in
large masses in front that iron hairpins were used to keep these in place
at the top lest they should fall crushed beneath their own weight.

The hats were worn rather far back to show these curls, and many had
long ends of ribbon hanging down at the back, and others had low crowns
and wide brims trimmed with flowers. What was known as a "fly" cap was a
large butterfly edged with jewels, and crownless hats became the fashion;
invented so as not to spoil the high coiffure, they boasted nothing but
brim, and were delegated to do duty only in the finest weather. The
calash, which resembles comically the hood of a baby's perambulator,
could be drawn back or over the face at will, and was tied with strings.
Straw hats obtained, as well as those of silk and velvet, and a mob-cap
created such a sensation at Ranelagh, the popular resort of the moment,
that all the women were crying out for one before the sun had risen and
set again. The mob-cap was made of blonde, flowers, ribbons, and muslin;
but so great was the craze for hair-dressing and head decoration that
every sort of cap and hat gained some attention in turn, and amongst them
were hoods of lace or velvet, edged with fur, and crêpe turbans held with
jewels, with a group of feathers waving proudly on the top. The famous
"Devonshire" hat of black with white feathers showed well the curls and
rolls, which extended to the back of the head when it had been realised
that the straight clean upward sweep to the top pinnacle of the puffs was
a disadvantage to the contour not to be permitted. Of the prettiest of
the fashions were the broad-brimmed hats of black chip, and the Rubens
hats of black velvet; and the straight-crowned gipsy hats were really
quite charming; but the winged Mercury hat received more popularity than
it deserved.

[Illustration: A CAP AND HOOD.]

The perruques of the men, even when fresh from the embraces of the
curl-papers, must have looked very insignificant by the side of the huge
erections which towered above the women, who did not scruple in their
martyrdom to sit on the floor of a hackney coach so that the head-dress
should not be disarranged, or to go to bed with their hair surrounded by
a basket, or held in position by pillows and tapes. Happily the dancing
of the period was of a stately kind, for the coiffure would have brooked
no such frivolities as the "two-step," and the uproarious lancers of
to-day would have made short work of the hair-dresser's labour of time
and money.

The question of complexion was seriously studied, the colour of the
chin and cheeks being carefully suited to the gowns. Patches were
lavishly indulged in in England and France, the eyebrows were blacked
and even false, and China, Spain, and Portugal all contributed--for a
consideration--rouges and white lead and wash balls, scented lard and lip
salves, and toilet waters and soaps.

The fan was an indispensable complement to every gown, and its best
conduct was an art which might well have been added to the scholastic
curriculum for women, always supposing the like in existence. The fans
were made of chicken skin and painted; and chicken skin also had the
privilege, with lace and an embroidery of gold and silver, in making
gloves and mittens for evening wear.

Tight-lacing was _de rigueur_, and it is indeed impossible to imagine
any discomfort omitted from the toilet. I cannot picture conditions more
entirely unpleasant than to glaze the face with paint and grease of red
and black, to decorate it at intervals with devices of sticking plaster,
to supply it with false eyebrows, and to mount on the head some pounds'
weight of stuffed hair, while reducing the waist at least three inches
below the natural size, expanding the hips with whalebone and hoops,
compressing the feet into narrow shoes, and carefully studying every
movement of the arm so as to hold a fan at a significant and becoming
angle. And to add to all this, the dresses were of the stiffest brocades,
decked with gold and silver embroideries and tinselled fringes, velvet
and fur increasing the burden.

[Illustration: SOME STICKS.]

The excessive elaboration of the hoods and the scarves and the aprons
dangling with silver tassels and fringes was responsible for some
criticism from Beau Nash, the autocrat of Bath, where he had established
the strictest rules of dress and procedure, covering all delinquencies
of conduct with a bearing of convincing dignity set in an atmosphere
of punctilious etiquette. Goldsmith gives an instance of the despotic
rule of Nash, and of the special liberties he arrogated to himself. "I
have known him on a ball-night strip even the Duchess of Q." (the "Kitty
beautiful," as the poet Prior called this Duchess of Queensberry), "and
throw her apron at one of the hinder benches among the ladies' women,
observing that none but Abigails appeared in white aprons."

Women had indeed to suffer in those days to attain what they were pleased
to call the beautiful, and it is quite a relief to remember the moment
when Marie Antoinette took a sudden caprice to appear without hoops in
a soft satin gown with wide sleeves, which set the fashion in London as
well as in France. For a short time only, however, such moderation ruled,
and the hoops came back larger than ever in 1784, when the Duchess of
Cumberland swept the floor in five yards of brocade, and a stomacher
blazing stiffly with jewels.

The pastoral simplicity of the Petit Trianon should have really made
more lasting impression than it did. For the Court ladies played at
milkmaids under the rule of their farmer Queen, and churned butter with
their own fair hands, and found a wide field for dainty disguises in
rustic and ruinous simplicity. The peasant girls' dresses of stuffs and
muslin were glorified by rich silks and muslin and challis decked with
lace fichus and crowned with rose-coloured and be-ribboned straw hats,
and embroidered holland and Persian cambric were affected economies no
less expensive than the maize-coloured silk and striped green and white
satin of avowed prodigality. The Trianon was a happy hunting-ground for
flirtation, but that is another story, indeed a great many; but it served
too as a pretext for innumerable new frocks, and the colour-prints of the
time convincingly prove the dainty possibilities afforded by the artifice
of simplicity allied to a nice taste in ribbons.

We have to go back to the days of Marie Antoinette for a practice which
aroused some interest and amusement when a dressmaker in London last year
was fired with a desire to revive it. Gowns were invested with the power
to express special emotion, and Molière held the notion up to ridicule
in his famous _Précieuses_. Long narrow shoes with the seam at the heel,
whose socket was studded with jewels, were called _venez-y-voir_; and
this suggestion of forwardness was again evident in a ribbon which went
by the name of "marked attention." Other absurdities often quoted were
the gown known as the "stifled sigh," trimmed with "superfluous regrets,"
and the cap of "assured conquest," and a muff of "momentary agitation."

Towards the end of the reign of Louis XVI. the low head-dress came
into fashion, the short curls being gathered into a knot of ribbon or
"catogan," and the fair moderated their transports for powdered hair
which had abundantly obtained in white, reddish blonde, and grey.

Marie Antoinette knew all there was to know of the art of dress, and
recognising the supreme charm of caprice, she would ring every change
in turn; and perhaps she never looked more exquisitely beautiful than
when, her hair powdered and her face faintly lined by sorrow, she met the
scaffold and the mob on the last day of her existence, in her plain black
dress and simple white fichu.



CHAPTER IX

IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY


On trying to set down a chronicle of dress as it lived in the earlier
part of the nineteenth century, my mind becomes immediately obsessed with
short-waisted gowns; and a vision of the hapless Josephine--whose name,
by the way, I should have added to the list of the few who have stood
godmother to a fashion--immediately appears before me in her graceful
short-skirted evening dress with its high Empire belt.

That all women kill the style they love might with truth be said of the
enthusiasm which raged for that Empire belt, for it grew smaller by
degrees and grotesquely less when it commenced its career immediately
beneath the arm, pushing the bust under the throat, presenting but an
apology for a bodice, and needing the completely slim figure to withstand
its liberties with any degree of decorum. Decorum was, however, not among
its ambitions.

[Illustration: SOME QUAINT EXAMPLES OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY HEADGEAR.]

For walking wear the high waist was no less a desideratum, and cloth
skirts, long and full, were completed by short velvet coats with long
tight sleeves, vests of white, and stocks of black. The whole was crowned
by small hats with feathers on one side, or high hats of masculine
convention made of cream-coloured beaver. Napoleon, following in the
footsteps of many of his predecessors in the profession of Royalty,
showed a nice appreciation of the charm of costume, being alternately
disapproving and encouraging in his criticisms, and always leaning
towards the side of prodigality.

Princess Pauline Buonaparte made dress the religion of her salon,
and there are records of her audacious grace in a fancy costume as
Minerva, and of one of her _soirée_ gowns which expressed the last word
of extravagance in pink tulle over pink satin, trimmed with marabout
feathers, and diamond _agrafes_, with the bodice encrusted, and every
seam of the skirt glistening, with diamonds.

In England Queen Charlotte evinced a decided predilection for the
greatcoat and the cloth pelisse with a velvet collar, crowned by the
circular hat of beaver, veiled with green muslin; and much favour was
granted to such masculine properties as the silk cravat and the boot
with the high military heel, the feminine situation being saved only by
the sprigged lace veil. An alternative to the pelisse was a garment not
unlike the Greek chiton, which, however, never received the attention
bestowed upon the boxcloth driving-coat with heavy capes, and the manly
etceteras to do it honour or dishonour.

It goes to prove my suspicion that there is a leaven of contrariety in
the soul of women, when I remember that beneath these was worn a cambric
or lawn dress of most diaphanous detail, and so close-fitting that the
feminine form, unfortunately not being divine, lacked under its influence
the best grace of reticence. Besides being of cambric and lawn, these
skimpy dresses were made of clear silk net over a foundation of white
satin, and all were very short in the waist and in the skirt, which was
trimmed with rouleaux of satin.

In warm weather the thick cloaks were discarded for the short cloaks and
mantles shaped as the Zouave, or in the short sacque style extending
only to the waist. A spencer in a contrasting shade of silk achieved
popularity and was considered the fitting complement to the muslin gown;
and about the year 1814 this was made with full sleeves and upstanding
collar and worn over the morning dress, which was either cut high to
the neck, or filled in with a ruff and kerchief of lace or muslin. A
fold of muslin also did service, crossed in front of the popular evening
bodice, whose _décolletage_ was more remarkable for its breach than its
observance of the best ideals of modesty.

A favourite ornament was a gold chain and heart, which would open to
reveal the eye of a lover, relative, or friend executed on ivory and
bordered with enamel; and this limned eye is a love token which seems to
be coming once more into fashion.

French fashions again became the mode at the beginning of the century,
when white chemisettes were worn with the Swiss petticoat, and powder
fell into disuse, and the hair was long or short in curls falling over
the face, a style of coiffure which was followed by the crop, in favour
of which even the most tolerant can find little to put forward. With
the crop a narrow fillet was placed round the head, holding a rose in
front, or over it an immense panache of feathers would nod with foolish
monotony. The cropped head had for its successor the style known as _la
chinoise_ for which the hair was tightly dragged back from the forehead,
with a long ringlet falling at the side, a plait set in a cluster of
roses crowning the top, which was further decorated with gold pins,
tasselled with small gold balls.

Many garments had foreign names. A robe known as the Mameluke had a
Delta trimming; a coiffure adorned with jewels and a double row of beads
on the forehead was dedicated to Egypt; and Austerlitz expressed a
nankeen-coloured gown with blue trimmings. And there were caps recognised
as Patmos and Tyrolean; and there were Spanish dresses, and Etruscan
borders to Pyrenean robes. The Patmos cap had charms which easily pushed
it to the height of success, when it was made of satin and lace cut into
points at the front, was covered with diamonds, and had tassels falling
at either side.

Beau Brummel, as he walked upon the Pantiles, carefully cultivating
towards everybody an insolence that would not be tolerated nowadays,
even in the richest member of the Stock Exchange, laid down the law of
dress for men. About 1811 he held supreme sway, and was the "Arbiter
Elegantarium," contributing doubtless to the gaiety of nations many a
new stock and new button. It was not long after this, however, that man
gave up fashion as a bad job, ultimately contenting himself for his
adornment with the details of his waistcoat and the cut of his whiskers,
begging the question at first by full-skirted coats with velvet collars,
frilled shirts and stock ties, tasselled canes, and light beaver hats,
then gradually drifting into the safe harbour of broadcloth and linen,
where he permitted himself selection only in the colour of his necktie
and the option of the hard or the soft hat. Gone are his glories of
brocade and satin and tight breeches, which revealed silk stockings and
buckled shoes; banished are the lace ruffles, the nankeen, the mulberry,
and the blue cloth with brass buttons; diminished are the curled heads;
and frankly I regret all these as losses to the beauty as well as to the
humour of social existence.

It was in the earliest days of the nineteenth century that artificial
flowers began to obtain considerable popularity, and they were used in
the hair and on the bodices and in festoons on the skirts, and on the
hems of trains. After the return of Napoleon from Elba, violets were the
conspicuous fashion, being regarded as an emblem of Imperialism, and no
faithful follower was seen without a bunch of violets in her dress; while
the ladies of royal sympathies would, in honour of Louis XVIII., decorate
their gowns with eighteen tucks, and supply their cashmere shawls with
vermilion borders.

Shawls, the manufacture of which had begun in England in the eighteenth
century, were in great request later in the century. They were made of
cashmere, in imitation of the Indian shawls, which were respectfully
considered articles of luxury and importance during all the days of Queen
Victoria, who chose these as wedding gifts for the brides she delighted
to honour.

But I progress too fast.

After the battle of Waterloo, fashion decidedly changed, and the
clinging gown, with its skimpy skirt hanging from a short belt or Empire
bodice, was discarded in favour of a much-trimmed dress standing well
away from the figure, and fancy would work its elaborate will on the
trimming of these skirts with scollops, many-coloured embroideries,
fringes and gold braid. The bodice still remained a minor quantity,
supplied with two short puffed sleeves and filled to the bust or somewhat
below it with a jewelled clasp or some decoration of embroidery or
lace, whose indiscretions were presumably to be concealed beneath a
dainty scarf of silk or coloured gauze, an elegance which failed in its
duties lamentably, and hung limply over the arm as if ashamed of its
delinquencies.

The fashionable outdoor dress could hardly have been suitable to the
English climate, unless indeed its habits have altered strangely, and its
detractors have reason for their abuse. The loose robe was of jaconet
muslin open at the neck and covered with embroidery, and round the
shoulders would hang the scarf, usually dropping to the waist, and held
in the hollow of the elbow; and on the head appeared a French cap of
blonde lace trimmed with ribbons.

In the 'thirties, dress was merely a travesty of the 'twenties; huge
sleeves and stiffened petticoats were universal, and the tight-fitting
bodices, cut with sloping shoulders, gave a thin flat appearance to the
waist, further accentuated by the ballooning sleeves, setting closely to
the wrist. The skirts were short, and still further enhanced the immense
effect of the sleeves; and round the waist a plain band added angularity
to the outline. Revers, shaped like capes at the back and pointed in the
front, were on day and evening bodices alike, and pelerines of all kinds
established their popularity, being tucked into the waist, or having wide
long ends crossed at the back or front. Blonde lace was a favourite
trimming to all gowns; and a style of dress that took the fancy for a
short time was known as the "tunic." This was made with a sleeveless
bodice and pointed shoulders, the under-dress being two inches longer and
of a colour different from the skirt, which was open in the front. Bright
colours were very popular, but, on the whole, the spirit of costume was
chastened, and muffs, fans, bouquets, and parasols became considerably
smaller.

[Illustration: LADY BLESSINGTON.]

The most conspicuous garments in the earliest days of Queen Victoria were
the shawl-shaped cloak, the circular cape, and the crossover made of
either embroidered crêpe or taffeta, and bearing on its borders a fringe
or some frill of lace. Beneath these the sleeves dropped lower and lower
from the shoulder, and extended their fulness from elbow to wrist; their
top was tight and plain, or edged with two little frills, and the billow
beneath was expressed in white lawn. The fichu in cambric or lawn was
a feature of nearly every bodice, the only alternative being a double
collar, which turned down at the neck.

The outstanding petticoat was ubiquitous, skirts over it being single
and trimmed with flounces, or double and dividing in the centre, to show
a contrasting under-skirt. Kerchiefs and capes were draped over low
dresses, and berthas were important features in the tulle or tarletan
gown, which was festooned and flounced, tied with ribbons, one skirt
being looped up over another with more ingenuity than elegance.

The bonnet poked its brim into an audacious spoon, tilting upwards to
reveal a trimming beneath of quillings and ruchings in muslin or net,
with a bow of ribbon and a bunch of feathers on the crown, whence fell
the curtain at the back to the neck. The poke gradually decreased in
height and width, eventually assuming a semicircle as close to the brow
as the bonnet of a barge-woman, and the French ladies adopted this
fashion, making the bonnets of straw and draping them with a green gauze
veil. About 1860 the crinoline of horsehair and steels "swelled visibly,"
like another hero, and Leghorn hats took the place of bonnets. These,
decked with ribbons and plumes, would bend low their brims over the face
of beauty and ugliness.

Hair was permitted every license except the monstrous unhealthy
misdemeanours of the Stuart and Tudor periods. In turn, it strained
itself rigidly to the topmost point of the crown, where, coiled in
plaits, it met the just reward of a disfiguring bunch of feathers; it
puffed itself out in a mass behind the ears, or banded itself demurely
over them. It merrily shook itself in ringlets from a centre parting,
which knew such sorrow as Macassar oil and the controlling influence of
the side comb; or, stuffed out with frisettes, it hid its insincerity
in the meshes of the silk and chenille net; or it lay low in flat curls
at the nape of the neck. At different times it placed the burden of its
rolls and curls upon every inch of the crown--on top of it, in the middle
of it, behind it, and in front of it, where, indeed, it once developed a
frenzy of disorder, and hung in wild and fringed confusion to the eyebrow.

[Illustration: LADY BLESSINGTON.]

[Illustration: LADY DALMENY.]

This reminds me to note the royal conservatism of her gracious Majesty
Queen Alexandra, who follows fashion at a dignified distance, lending
her sweet personal enchantment to our view of her antedated coiffure,
with its raised curls over her brow pointing slightly to the centre of
the forehead. Royalty no longer seeks to lead fashions, nor, indeed, to
follow them, the only exceptions to the rule of generality being the
royal ladies of the houses of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and of Connaught, who
all show a most delightful appreciation of, and a becoming sympathy with,
every vagary of _La Mode_. Yet our supreme Royalty takes interest in the
national aspect of the affairs of costume, and bestows much personal
trouble in arousing loyalty towards Irish poplins, British-made silks,
the tweed industries of Ireland and Scotland and Wales, and the lace
manufactures of Devonshire and Bucks and Nottingham.

The blouse and the teagown of to-day date their inception from the last
century, but the beneficent law of evolution concedes them the grace of
novelty, even while dogma tediously reiterates "There is nothing new
under the sun."

[Illustration: TWO COIFFURES.]

[Illustration: EARLY VICTORIAN STYLES.]

[Illustration: IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.]

In costume the Victorian era was "Everything-arian," welcoming and
discarding all shapes and styles of garments, and gathering in the
fashions from every age, adopting with mild enthusiasm and moderated
transport the most graceful and the most graceless, and impartially
bestowing attention upon the slashed and puffed sleeves of the Tudors,
the lace collar and wide ruff of the Stuarts, the Watteau dress,
re-christened "Dolly Varden," the short waists of the Empire, the full
coats and large revers of the Directoire, and the long plumes and
brilliant buckles of the seventeenth century. An injustice to the word
æsthetic was committed by the followers of a fashion which cried aloud
for sad colours, sadder shapes, and the saddest untidiness; and amongst
the ridiculous mistakes may be written down a polonaise dress looping up
in unexpected places, flounced and furbelowed without bounds of reason,
while extending itself from the waist over an immense bustle. There is
satisfaction in remembering the reaction which took place after this
in favour of the eelskin dress, setting as tightly as was convenient
from neck to heel, when the woven jersey-bodice had a short spell of
patronage, but, proving itself suavely unsympathetic in its treatment of
any but the perfect figure, lapsed speedily into disuse. About 1882 the
questionable charms of the bustle reasserted themselves, and the Watteau
style of frock exercised some beneficial influence over the waist of its
fair wearer.

Man's last aspiration towards dandyism gasped and died in the embrace of
the stock of Count D'Orsay. Now, woman alone rules the roost of fashion,
man is "no longer dressed but clothed," and under feminine autocracy,
dress, whose interests are widely and publicly recognised, has reached a
position of primary importance. No more are these interests represented
in an unwanted corner of a monthly periodical, or in the letters of the
town cousin to the country cousin, or in the counsels of perfection
signed by "the old woman." They maintain various journals established
in their honour, and in the field of Fashion England has risen from
the ranks to leadership; while a wide plain of cheap selection opens
to the proletariat the chance to beautify their outer as well as their
under wear, which has emerged from the uncompromising confines of stiff
long-cloth and Madeira work to the seductive limits encompassed by fine
lawn and embroidery, allied to Valenciennes lace and soft ribbon.

As I write, Fashion seems a pleasantly moderate thing, and the summer-day
dress of white linen, with a broad-brimmed hat encircled by the floating
veil, and the evening dress of chiffon garlanded with chiffon, appear to
justify my suspicion that "whatever is, is right, in the world of dress."
And, when I remember that the "picture" dress of to-day was the garb of
convention yesterday, I can hope that our bespangled nets and tinselled
brocades will in due course be encircled with charm from the halo of the
bygone. May it also, I pray, come to soften the hardest outline of our
leather-trimmed tweed and serge costumes of sport, and to exercise a
benign influence upon our disproportionate figures and our perky toques!



CHAPTER X

OF BRITISH PEASANTS


While searching in the annals of the bygone costume of the peasant, the
most democratic person might be tempted to regret the repealing of all
sumptuary law. We are grateful to-day to recognise the artistic value
of the red tie of the masculine tiller of the field, or of the coloured
handkerchief over the head of the harvest-woman, but, in those other
times, the plains and the fields, the woods and the forests, were the
background for a people in brave array, on which blue, red, green, and
white played conspicuous part. And not alone in colour must their garb
have been pre-eminently attractive to the eye, but in the simplicity of
its make, the liberal display of white linen about the neck and the head,
and the further addition of coloured lacings. These completed an effect
of picturesque carelessness which may well have been allowed to cover a
multitude of sins of omission in personal cleanliness.

Glancing roughly through the periods, I find that the dress most worn
in England by the peasant women in the eleventh century consisted of a
coarse woollen gown with long sleeves closely fitting to the wrists, a
white linen apron, and a linen kerchief covering the head as a wimple.
In the reign of Henry I. it is recorded that men wore simple tunics of
red lined with white, innocent of a girdle, and open from the waist at
the left side, the sleeves possessing long cuffs reaching almost to the
elbow. The mantle was often added, and beneath the tunic were chaussés
or drawers, and either boots or shoes, with crossed diagonal lacings.
Hats or hoods were of leather, felt, or cloth, and warm mitten-shaped
gloves of coarse make were adopted. In the time of Henry II. women, who
held faithfully to linen aprons, caps, and kerchiefs, wore long gowns
and plain bodices laced up the back, the sleeves put rather full at the
shoulders, and the petticoats pleated at the waist.

In the thirteenth century the bliaus, or smock, of canvas or fustian was
made in many varieties of coarse cloth, russet, and cordetum produced
for the use of the poor. The peasant women were converted towards some
ambition for the beautiful, and their costume became impressed with the
ornamental, consisting of a bodice cut low in the neck to show a pleated
chemisette of white linen, and attached to a fully gathered skirt,
fastening with buttons down the front. Their boots were high and had
buttons on the fronts, while the white linen apron and white linen cap or
kerchief still held their place.

In the days of King Edward II. the men adopted a long gown buttoning
from the neck to the waist, with loosely hanging sleeves, showing
closely-fitting under-sleeves, the hood being folded back or pendent, and
the shoes pointed.

The double dress was introduced in the fourteenth century, a dress
which is in the form which we now associate with the fishwife's dress,
the upper skirt being pinned back over a full petticoat, the bodice
of this being laced and the sleeves loose. Chaucer describes his poor
Ploughman as wearing a tabard--a garment unheard of before the fourteenth
century--a hat, scrip, and scarf; the Shipmanne was garbed "all in a gown
of falding to the knee." This material was a kind of frieze, and in this
day the coarse red woollen material still used by the Irish peasant women
for petticoats and jackets is the old falding.

In the fifteenth century the chemisette to some extent yielded place to
the bodice high at the neck and fastened at the back, finished by a small
linen kerchief tied in the front. A plain full woollen petticoat was in
vogue, and the sleeves were turned back with pleated cuffs, the option in
headgear being allowed between a close hood or kerchief and a plain hat
of straw.

In the reign of Edward IV. the peasant women reverted most wisely to
the bodice, which was cut low at the neck in a circular form; the plain
skirts were gathered at the waist, and over a white linen cap they placed
a hood and cape cut in one piece.

In the days when the greatest widower was achieving his conjugal record,
an old country-man is described as wearing a "buttoned cap" (one with
flaps over the ears, turned up and fastened with a button), a "lockram
falling band, a narrow turned-down collar of coarse linen--coarse but
clean, a russet-coat; a white belt of horse hide, right horse collar
white leather; a close round breech of russet sheep's-wool, with a long
stock of white kersey, and a high shoe with yellow buckles." A pretty
fellow, I'm convinced.

In this reign, too, ornamental braid found its place on the costumes of
the peasant women, whose bodices, cut square and edged with braid, were
laced up at the back. However, novelty, which is ever desirable, was
obtained by limiting the bodices, raising the waists, and tightening the
full sleeves at the wrists, where they were finished with a small frill.

Braid later gained further patronage, and in the reign of Mary was
allowed the privilege of ornamenting the full petticoats, when the
closely-fitting bodices were still laced in V-shape and flaunted an
upstanding collar of Medici tendency cut in one with revers. On the
top of the sleeves was a padded roll, and upon the head a quaint cap
displayed a small point in front, and bore a close resemblance in the
crown to the penny bun.

The early Elizabethan peasant woman's dress consisted of a double skirt,
the under one of serge, full, the upper one with braid round the hem,
made in a contrasting shade, and folded back to form a panier. The
tight-fitting bodice had a pointed plastron edged with ribbon on either
side, and the bodice was bound at the hem with ribbon, which tied in
a bow at the waist, a larger bow appearing at the bust, while round
the neck a gauffered frill outspread itself with stiff importance. The
sleeves were full, and the head was covered with a lawn cap, the crown
of which was full, and the curtain, turning back in front, was trimmed
with lace. Yet another style of dress worn at this period had a full
skirt braided round the hem and an upper skirt with a wider braid, the
square-cut bodice, also braided, being finished with a turned-down linen
collar. The sleeves displayed double puffs to the elbow, thence fitting
tightly to the wrist, and braid again appeared on the mob-cap of lawn,
and on the hem of the lawn apron.

This might have been the attire of many a wilful wench hieing forth on
her holiday, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of some green-clad figure
in the wake of gay Robin Hood.

Pleasant reading is of the milkmaid of the reign of James I.; she must
have been a bonny figure in her box-pleated under-skirt of red serge,
with a blue serge over-skirt tucked up on the hips. Her tight bodice was
of blue and laced down the front, her sleeves were long and loose to
allow of their being rolled back to the elbow, round her neck was wound a
bright-coloured kerchief, and on her head another, while, for merrymaking
and fêtes, she would tie her apron with coloured ribbons, and let bunches
of ribbon adorn her smart high-heeled shoes. As an alternative to the
kerchief she would wear over her hood a plain straw hat with a slightly
turned-up brim decked with ribbons.

The Commonwealth brought with it austerity of dress; sad tones of dull
brown and grey receiving popular patronage, while the formal linen cuffs,
collar, and cap were ubiquitous. A plain material formed the over-skirt
of many a dress which bore a striped under-skirt, tight sleeves, and a
plain, tightly-fitting bodice. Cuffs and collars grew wider, the linen
apron had two pockets, and there was added to costume a circular cape
of dull serge. The high felt hat was adorned simply by a plain band of
ribbon.

During the Restoration, colour asserted itself once more, and dress was
again pretty, a commendable example having a blue linen skirt with a
band of fancy material round the hem, a full basque, and a linen collar,
the front adorned with braid, the apron striped.

Stripes were quite a feature of fashion then and in the later days of
William III., when the striped skirt would be adorned with a deep band
of plain material trimmed with braid, the striped bodice cut V-shaped to
show a vest of pleated linen, the sleeves being plain with linen cuffs,
the apron of linen, and the cloth hood and cape cut in one piece.

Fancy materials were made in the reign of Anne, when short skirts
frequently were composed of stripes beneath a plain over-skirt bunched on
the hips. The bodice then came out in the glory of a muslin fichu, and
the long sleeves were turned back to the elbow, the cap was of muslin
too, with a full crown and gauffered edge. A charming picture of a
country-woman of 1711 shows her wearing a tucked-up gown with short loose
sleeves, a pair of stiff stays, and an apron, with high-heeled shoes and
a low cap turned up in front. Caps yielded place to hats for the lower
orders in the eighteenth century, when plain flat straw hats became the
only wear, being recognised as serving a useful purpose in the carrying
of fruit and fish.

Cretonne first enjoyed a share of recognition in the reign of George
I., when the under-skirts were made of this in stripes, gathered at the
waist, and over these was worn a serge skirt tucked up at the hips. The
tight-fitting bodice was of serge laced in front, cut low in the neck,
and outlined with a loosely-knotted handkerchief, the full sleeves being
turned back below the elbows.

In glancing through the records, I find in the reign of George II. but
little change from this state of affairs. The bodice was laced over a
white linen chemisette, and finished with a deep collar and tight sleeves
with frills of muslin at the elbow, the apron with its two pockets being
ornamented with a deep band of embroidered muslin. The hair, however,
received more attention, being tied round with a ribbon under a muslin
cap, while a straw hat was worn over it when the fair maids took their
walks abroad.

The modish mandate was reversed in the following reign, when the
under-skirt was of serge with the over-skirt of chintz gathered on to the
bodice, which was full at the back and opened in the front, the bodice
being further adorned by lacings over a velvet vest, cut low, with a
muslin fichu to put the finishing touch and white muslin frills appearing
to adorn the tight sleeves. The apron of muslin had a large pocket on
the right side, and the straw hat was invariably trimmed with a bow of
ribbon, also placed on the right side.

When George IV. was king the full skirt was gathered on to the short
bodice all round beneath a band of ribbon, which finished at the back to
conceal the fact. The muslin fichu was generally adopted, padded rolls
were on the shoulders, the white linen apron was long, and the head bowed
itself to the fascinations of the bonnet of drawn white cambric.

A full woollen skirt, gathered round the waist, was the popular costume
in the time of William IV., when the tight bodice buttoned down the
front, a triple cape attached to a band of ribbon and fastened in the
front was thrown over the shoulders, and ribbon proved itself as
serviceable as becoming over the crown of the straw hat, where it was
placed to secure it firmly to its wearer.

My investigations by the way of Scotch and Irish and Welsh peasants have
been few, but the details of one modern representative Irish peasant's
dress I can quote as including "a short skirt of linsey turned up over
a petticoat of red or some other bright colour, with the bodice belted
round the waist and laced down the front, worn beneath a long frieze
cloak with cap and hood; the head is covered with a kerchief." Of
imperishable memory is the red Connemara colleen cloak; and the native
Welsh dress is not less dear to the lovers of the picturesque, with its
high pointed hat worn above a frilled lawn cap, the worsted shawl, the
short petticoat, and white apron and trim shoes. The Highland dress was
in its original form a chequered covering known as a breconfeile, a plain
piece of tartan two yards wide and six yards in length placed round the
waist in folds, and held in position by a leather belt. The plaid was
fastened on the left shoulder by a large brooch, the right end hanging
down longer than the left, being tucked into the belt, while the right
arm was left uncovered save in the severest weather, when the plaid was
thrown over the whole body. This was the wear, until the end of the
eighteenth century, of Lowlanders and Highlanders alike.

The Scotch, and the Irish too, had a rooted antipathy to foot-gear,
preferring to carry their shoes and stockings rather than permit them to
do their proper duties, and when the etiquette of church-going demanded
the sacrifice of this inclination, they yielded only during the service,
afterwards sitting on any convenient gravestone to remove the unwelcome
impediments.

The national head-dress of the Highlanders is the round flat bonnet of
blue cloth, with an eagle's feather; and for many centuries men and women
wore plaids alike, the usual colours being white striped with red, black,
or blue, the men's stockings matching these.

Thinking seriously over the dress of the peasant in the North, South,
East, and West, I am tempted to protest that progression has meant
retrogression, and that the modern country-woman, with her indiscreet
lace-trimmed blouse revealing the ragged belt of her mud-coloured
petticoat, makes a sorry figure in comparison with her sister-toiler
of the past; and I recall sorrowfully even this description of an
early Victorian peasant-woman's dress which reads: "To consist of a
full skirt of print gathered into a band at the waist; there is a full
crossover-bodice over a full vest of the same material, finished with a
frill at the neck. The sleeves are full above the elbow with two puffs,
and from these are tight to the wrists, and a muslin mob-cap is worn with
a bow of ribbon in front."

The country-woman who dwells in the indulgent times of Edward VII. should
ponder over the picture, and repent of her shapeless bodice divorced from
her unsympathetic skirt, and her cloth cricket cap held by aggressive
pins above a group of tortured wisps of hair bound in steel bondage to a
cruel curler.



CHAPTER XI

OF SOME FOREIGN PEASANTS


I regret, from the practical as well as the artistic point of view,
the threatened disappearance of local colouring, as emphasised by the
characteristic costume of the people, for I am convinced that the
adoption of a uniform style of dress by a community greatly furthers the
cause of neatness and economy.

No opportunity being afforded for the display of personal bad taste,
extravagance is discouraged, and the spick and span are virtues which
may distinguish the careful from the slatternly, and reveal much to
the student of character. A love of colour and personal adornment is
inherent in the human race, and it is to be regretted that the relentless
advance of commerce is responsible for the blotting out of a country's
individuality, and reducing all places to the same dead level of monotony.

Differing slightly but distinctly with the locality, the dress of the
peasants of Brittany is second in interest to none in Europe. This fact,
coupled with an instinctive conservatism common to those who "go down to
the sea in ships," is, no doubt, accountable for the tenacity with which
the Bretons cling to their national costume, bearing it with them when
they emigrate and donning it on gala occasions in the new land.

Peculiar to the peasant of Bignon is a white flannel petticoat, the hem
surmounted by a scarlet band. Pleated at the waist, it joins a bodice
fashioned from bright red cloth, which fits closely up to the throat and
is edged with black velvet embroidered in various coloured worsteds,
turned-back cuffs to match finishing the tight elbow-sleeves; while the
apron, in a dark tone of mulberry, fastens by means of a sash tied in a
bow at the side. Covering the head is a small cap of white linen, which
serves as foundation for a conical erection contrived from a coarse
starched texture resembling brown holland. To this is attached a pair
of long flaps, which can be pinned up or left hanging according to the
taste of the wearer. The well-to-do possess a necklace of amber and black
beads, and a gold and ebony crucifix suspended from a narrow black velvet
ribbon.

If dress be an outward and visible sign of character, then should the
people of Quimper be the gayest of the gay. The costume of the district
consists of a laced jacket with tight elbow-sleeves, supplemented by
full white ones which reach to the wrist, and a short petticoat of ample
proportions. Blue is a favourite shade for both corsage and skirt, which
are frequently glorified by the addition of red and gold lace. Blue
and pink inspire the sleeves, the under ones being of white, tied, _au
poignet_, with yellow ribbon. The chemisette displays a multi-coloured
collar, and the apron is in a vivid tone of orange.

The Morbihan department is distinguished by a variety of head-dresses,
some of which are exceedingly high, while all fit closely round the face,
and many display pendent lappets behind.

Odd, but by no means unbecoming, is the costume of the Normandy peasant.
The skirt is of striped woollen material, partially concealed beneath a
red and blue apron. Of black, white, red, or maroon worsted, the bodice
boasts long sleeves, some of which are scarlet in colour from wrist to
elbow and dull claret to the shoulder, a small fringed shawl hiding the
upper portion of the arm. Quite the most striking and important feature
is the _bourgoin_. Evolved from stiff white muslin drawn over a cardboard
shape, it is very high in the crown, the wide brim narrowing towards
the back, whence dangle two lace streamers. The hair is turned up in a
manner best described as clubbed, the ends disappearing beneath the cap,
while on fête-days the head-dress is composed of the very finest muslin,
elaborately trimmed with lace, and fastened by means of a velvet strap
passed under the chin or across the forehead.

The _bourgoin_ is encountered in its most ornate form, however, in the
Pays de Caux, where it is reverently regarded as an heirloom and handed
down from generation to generation. Wonderfully and fearfully made,
the upper portion is of light blue pasteboard strewn with gold tinsel
flowers, and ruffled with muslin bordered with lace. The brim is of
scarlet velvet, lappets floating behind, and a chin-strap holding it in
place. Unlike the women of Brittany, who carefully conceal all traces
of hair, the Normandy peasant arranges hers in coquettish curls on the
temples.

Despite their long and romantic association with the country, and the
impress they left on its architecture and its history, the influence of
the Moors is in nowise apparent in the dress of the Spanish peasantry.
The people of the Peninsula manage to unite in admirable fashion the
practical with the picturesque, as expressed by the costumes peculiar
to the different provinces. What, for instance, could be more happily
conceived than the dress of a Castilian peasant? The short sleeveless
coat, or bolero, consists of coloured cotton edged with an _appliqué_
design in imitation of coarse braid. This is worn in conjunction with a
shirt of white cotton conspicuous for a stand-up collar and sleeves to
the elbow, a wide red sash encircling the waist, where it is held firmly
in place by a narrow leather belt on which the wearer's name, or that of
his fiancée, is embroidered. The tight knickerbockers are of serviceable
texture, gartered at the knee, each showing four silver or gilt buttons
in a row up the outside of the leg. The gaiters combine the duty of
stockings, and are supplemented by low, thick-soled sandals, termed
_alpargatās_ or _espardeñas_, tied round the ankle with gay ribbons. The
fête costume of the women embraces a voluminous skirt of fine cloth,
extending below the knees and trimmed about the bottom with wide and
narrow bands of black ribbon velvet, and an apron, likewise of cloth, but
in a contrasting colour, bordered with gold lace or passementerie. The
closely-fitting jacket reaches to the hips; the seams are outlined in
gold lace, and the sleeves slashed open from the elbow to the wrist to
reveal white under-sleeves belonging to the chemisette, a second glimpse
of which is caught at the neck in front. An immensely long coral chain is
wound countless times about the throat, and dangling from it are sacred
medallions and variously sized crosses, the whole forming a plastron
which descends to the waist. White cotton stockings are usual--red
ones indicating a bride--and black leather shoes relieved with ribbon
rosettes. The hair is plaited, tied with black velvet, and allowed to
hang down behind, and the mitre-shaped hat is of black velvet trimmed up
each side with a serried row of silver buttons.

In Valencia the peasantry of both sexes affect sandals laced up the
leg. The women wear a short, brightly coloured skirt and an apron, the
lower portion of which is in one shade and the upper in another, the
latter being brilliantly embroidered. The tight bodice laces in front
across a white chemisette, and displays long, closely-fitting sleeves,
while the head is enclosed in a white bonnet which forms a frill round
the neck, and is surmounted by a hat with a shallow crown, and a brim
shaped like an inverted saucer. The dress of the men is correspondingly
simple, comprising a light-blue linen waistcoat buttoned up to the chin,
where it is finished with a white collar, a sash, and a short open coat,
remarkable for buttons down both sides. The trousers terminate at the
calf, and a red handkerchief is wound round the head.

In the mountain fastnesses of Catalonia, the women wear, in lieu of a
bonnet, a white veil, which falls to the waist behind, and a crossover
fichu fashioned of cotton, and chiefly notable for a decorative border
in a contrasting shade. Little is seen of the bodice beyond the tight
sleeves, which finish at the wrist with a band of black velvet and a
silver buckle, and the ankle-length skirt is almost concealed by a full
round apron. All the jewellery common to the district is exceptionally
massive and set with red or green stones, the pendent ear-rings of gold
or silver being so heavy that they have to be supported by cords, lest
they should tear the flesh.

A male peasant belonging to the same locality dons a short open coat of
light-blue velvet, long-sleeved and boasting diminutive revers and silver
buttons. The white cotton shirt introduces a turned-down collar and a
gaily-coloured cravat, tied in a sailor's knot and drawn through a silver
ring, and the waistcoat consists of striped red and white calico, while
a scarlet sash supports tight knickerbockers of blue velvet. These are
met by leggings of tan leather, the low shoes being attached by means of
thongs, after the style of sandals. Shaped somewhat like a fool's cap,
the peak of the scarlet head-dress is rolled over in front to form a wide
flap immediately above the brows, a last touch being given by a striped
red and yellow scarf thrown over the left shoulder, the ends edged
with deep fringe and pendent balls. For the mayor, or that important
local dignitary the driver of the diligence, the back of the coat is
embroidered with a pot of flowers in florid tints, while another badge of
office, pertaining to the same functionaries, is a patch of scarlet or
green cloth on either elbow.

A peasant woman of Asturias, is distinguished by a full skirt below the
knees, and a short narrow apron of black velvet traced with a checked
design in silver braid. A joyously-patterned cotton handkerchief is
arranged on the head, and tied in a butterfly bow in front, and the
tight bodice boasts closely-fitting sleeves, turned back with black
velvet cuffs embroidered in a variety of brilliant shades, a small
fringed shawl crossing at the bust and tying at the waist behind. White
thread stockings and black shoes complete the picture.

[Illustration: ALBANIAN PEASANTS.]

The mere mention of the word Switzerland is sufficient to conjure up
a medley of conflicting emotions. Thoughts of Nestlé's milk, Peter's
chocolate, Cook's parties, and picture post-cards adorned with edelweiss,
struggle to obliterate memories of majestic mountains whose hoary peaks
pierce the calm blue of a cloudless sky, of sunsets of awful beauty, and
of sunrises which flood the cold white Alps with roseate light, changing
the silver of the lakes to burnished gold. Homelier visions arise of
wooden chalets daintily perched high on the mountain side, or low in
the valley, of milk and honey, white butter and black bread, and of
fair-haired waitresses in national costume.

Each canton has its distinctive dress.

The peasant women of Lucerne wear large flat hats of smooth straw, the
crown encircled by bows of ribbon interrupted by a bunch of flowers.
The tri-coloured skirt barely covers the knee, where it is met by white
stockings, and the corselet displays lace, embroidery, and brass or
silver buttons. The white chemisette vaunts full short sleeves, and fits
up to the throat, where it is occasionally finished with a broad frill,
while the hair is drawn off the forehead and hangs down the back in two
plaits.

In Solerne the dress of the feminine portion of the community includes
a white petticoat edged with pink, which just shows beneath a black
skirt embroidered with red, while round the neck is knotted a black silk
kerchief, the bodice being red and green and the chemisette of white
muslin with wide sleeves to the elbow. Snowy muslin inspires the large
cap with its gauffered frill, other details being white stockings, ribbon
garters, and black shoes laced with scarlet.

Possibly the prettiest costume of all is to be found in the Canton of St.
Gall. On Sundays and fête-days it comprises a small white muslin cap,
lined with green silk and displaying a crimson crown. The hair is drawn
into a single plait at the back of the head, fastened with long gold or
silver pins. The snowy chemisette finishes with a moderately-sized ruffle
at the throat, and disappears into a velvet stomacher, the little open
jacket bearing a border of coloured ribbons.

Quite the most gaudy dress is that characteristic of Grison. The bodice
is of bright orange, laced with green ribbon over a blue stomacher,
and the skirt is in a penetrating tone of violet hemmed with green, in
brilliant contrast to red stockings worked with white clocks. The effect
is happily modified by a black lace cap, which forms a point on the
forehead and is tied under the chin.

To those in quest of the eminently becoming, the costume of the women
of Unterwalden commends itself. The hair is parted in front, and hangs
down behind in two plaits joined by a species of slide in silver. The
short full skirt is evolved from coarse brown material, the stockings are
blue and the shoes black, with metal heels and ribbon bows. The apron
is provided with a scarlet bib, and the sleeveless corsage is filled in
with a white chemisette, with puffed elbow-sleeves terminating in black
velvet bands and frills of lace. About the neck is a deep filigree silver
collar, from which hang two enormous silver pendants, one resting on the
bust at either side.

[Illustration: THE AUSTRIAN PEASANT-BRIDE IN BLACK.]

The typical Roman peasant woman makes a picturesque figure in a skirt of
some dark material and an apron brightly trimmed with two broadish bands
of embroidery, one appearing immediately below the hips and the other at
the knees. The tight, sleeveless corsage laces behind, and is supported
by narrow shoulder-straps, while the white chemisette has long sleeves
and is low at the throat. Ordinarily the hair is allowed to hang loosely
beneath a head-dress fashioned from a length of snowy linen, folded in
such a way as to form a narrow strip, which is pinned at the temples and
flung back to hang down behind. All but the very poorest wear necklaces,
pendent ear-rings, chains and crosses.

[Illustration: A CROATIAN PEASANT.]

The costume of the Trastaverini, although they are inhabitants of the
same city, differs somewhat from that of the Romans. The women plait
their hair, decorate it with silver bodkins, and confine it in a silk
net. On gala days they don velvet bodices laced with gold, and silk
skirts, which may be white to match the chemisette, or coloured, an
essential accessory being a scarlet apron. The men also wear silk nets,
their jackets being of black velvet enlivened by red silk sashes, while
their black shoes vaunt large silver buckles.

In some of the Pontifical States there is striking resemblance between
the dress common to the district and that associated with the Irish
peasantry. The women tie kerchiefs on their heads in the same way as
their Hibernian sisters, a second point of similarity existing in the
hooded cloaks.

[Illustration: A CROATIAN PEASANT.]

Strangely incongruous though it seems, when taken in conjunction with
their sunny clime and joyous levity of temperament, the peasantry of
Florence exhibit a marked predilection for black. On fête-days the
Tuscans don a tiny hat cocked at an acute angle over the left ear,
the hair at the other side being profusely decorated with pearls or an
ornamental comb. They also display a pretty taste in jewellery, wearing
pearl ear-rings and pearl and coral necklaces, other articles of attire
including black velvet slippers, and sleeveless bodices laced with ribbon
over a white chemisette. Occasionally the hair is turned up in a knot
beneath a veil which hangs down behind, but, when working or going to
market, the women imprison it in a silken mesh adorned with tassels, the
latter being sometimes of gold and silver.

The Bolognese peasant women continue faithful to the tradition of the
_zendada_, a veil falling from the plaited hair and draped over the
shoulders in graceful fashion. Coral is greatly in demand for purposes of
adornment, and combs and pins are liberally employed to decorate the hair.

So intense is her love for finery, that in Lombardy it is a common
occurrence for a peasant woman to spend all her earnings upon jewellery,
going barefoot the while. Another weakness of hers takes the direction
of large German fans in black and gold. These are much in evidence at
all festivities in Turin. Bright colours are preferred to sombre ones,
and it is easy to distinguish girls from married women, as the latter
have square linen veils, while the former allow their hair to be seen,
braiding it, and fastening it with a comb or formidable-looking pin.

[Illustration: IN CORFU TO DAY.]

Economical and self-denying though she may be in other respects, the
peasant woman of Genoa is recklessly extravagant the moment it is a
question of jewellery. To what lengths her passion for display carries
her may be gauged from the fact that when she is going to be married
she thinks nothing of paying seven or eight hundred francs for a necklace.

[Illustration: A GREEK PEASANT IN MEDIÆVAL DAYS.]

Not only are the Croatian women noted for their unusual beauty of face
and form, they are equally famous for their industry, and the national
costume is a marvel of needlework. The example illustrated on page 124
shows embroidery playing its part on the sleeves, the full skirt, and the
bodice. The chemisette is of white lawn, and jewels are around the neck,
and flowers wreathe the head over a lawn cap which conceals the hair.

The sketch of the Croatian man on page 125 shows him in a hat of black
felt, a coat of white bordered with blue, and a cape lined with red,
edged with a pattern formed by an application of red cloth.

A more elaborate edition of this dress permits a gold fringe on the low
crown of the hat, and a red fringe on a deep leather pouch which is held
on the left hip by a leather strap.

[Illustration: A GREEK PEASANT.]

[Illustration: A GREEK PEASANT WOMAN.]

[Illustration: A GREEK BRIGAND.]

[Illustration: A GREEK PRIEST.]

Departing from the classical severity of palla and peplum, the dress of
modern Greece has nothing in common with that of a people who scaled
the heights of immortality in the simplest of garbs. Peasant women wear
spangled petticoats of blue or pink silk, a long-waisted costume of
purple velvet embroidered in gold, high-heeled shoes which display silver
buckles, and a kerchief draped on the plaited hair.

The men resemble the typical stage brigand, in a double-breasted
waistcoat of blue or maroon velvet edged with gold lace, a row of gold or
silver buttons running from either shoulder to meet at the waist, which
is encircled by a brilliantly coloured sash.

A distinguishing note is given by the thoraki, a characteristic garment
of blue cotton, suggesting in form a stiff sack wider at the bottom
than the top, with holes at the corners for the legs to pass through.
A substitute for this is a white petticoat to the knees, and other
accessories are white stockings and black shoes with large silver buckles.

Some resemblance to the costume of ancient Greece may be traced in the
dress of the shepherds, who wear cloaks of sheep's wool or goat's hair,
with bare feet encased in sandals of untanned leather strapped across
the instep and up the lower portion of the leg. Thus attired, might
the Pyrrhian have climbed those mountains which looked on Marathon, as
Marathon looked on the sea.



CHAPTER XII

OF SOME FOREIGN PEASANTS (_continued_)


In Russia the convention of dress may not serve as an index to the mind
of the country, for the peasant is allowed to share with the prince a
fancy for gold, coloured embroidery, and silk and jewels, and it has not
yet become necessary for the Duma to include an advocate in the cause of
costume.

The history of Russia is inscribed upon the dress of its people.
Travelling from north to south and from east to west, the costumes of
the peasantry everywhere bear the impress of the political vicissitudes
through which the particular locality has passed. This, coupled with the
fact that no empire in the world is made up of such an agglomeration of
vastly different races, accounts for the immense diversity of styles.

To gain some idea of the ingredients which go to make up the sartorial
_pot-pourri_, one has but to pay a visit to the great annual fair
at Nijni Novgorod. There Cossack rubs shoulders with Finn, Jew with
Laplander, Tartar with Slav, Persian, Siberian, Bulgarian, and Circassian
adding to the interest of the scene and the Babel of tongues. As
everything Russian leads up to the one forbidden, and therefore burning,
question, politics, it is impossible even to treat of the national
costume without touching lightly upon those crises which determined the
ultimate cut of a sleeve or the shape of a head-dress.

Long ago Byzantium imposed its religion and its fashions upon its
great northern neighbour. Both were readily adopted by Russia, and a
significant side-light is thrown upon the national character by the fact
that when, in the thirteenth century, the Mongolian invasion reversed
the political situation, the vanquished adopted the dress of their
conquerors, but not their faith. This is strictly true of all but the
sovereigns, whose costume remained more or less faithful to tradition,
and never entirely departed from the Byzantium original.

Although Byzantium dictated the fashions of the classes, the masses were
unaffected thereby, and the costumes of the serfs trace their source to
Slav and Tartar, according to the district.

The first things to impress the foreigner are the gorgeous nature of the
fête dresses worn by the women, and the lavish use of gold trimming. This
love of gold, as applied to decorative purposes, would appear inherent
in the Russian character, revealing itself in the heavy gilding on the
icons and the many glittering domes of Moscow and St. Petersburg. More
suggestive of a fairy princess than of a peasant is the gala toilet of
the female population of Tver. Contrived from thick silk shot with gold,
the wide round skirt is pleated behind, the opening down the front and
the hem bordered with gold, while the white chemisette vaunts puffed
elbow-sleeves finished with frills, three rows of pearls encircling the
collarless neck. In summer time the little sarafan, or, for want of a
better term, jacket, is made without sleeves and resembles a short full
petticoat that sticks out, as though stiffened, at the bottom. It, too,
is of brightly coloured silk, and descends from the armpits to below the
hips, being supported by gold shoulder-straps, an edging of gold galon
running round the bottom and up the fronts. The head-dress consists of a
species of gilt diadem set with artificial gems in coloured glass. This
encircles the base of an erection of stiffened calico, reminiscent in
shape of the glass shades designed to protect those floral atrocities in
Berlin-wool and wax that were so dear to the heart of the early Victorian
housewife. Concealing the structure is a voluminous veil of white silk or
gauze, striped or strewn with flowers, and invariably bordered with gold.
The duty of gloves is performed by casings of velvet and sable, which
cover the back of the hand and enclose the finger-tips, while leaving the
palm and thumb free.

Still more beautiful and sumptuous is the fête dress of the women of
Torjok. They wear a singular head-dress known as _kokoschink_, which,
literally translated, signifies the crest of a hen, the why and wherefore
of the name being a riddle beyond the power of the average intelligence
to solve. Modelled on the lines of a reversed funnel, the tall slender
crown of the _kokoschink_ is white, encircled by narrow bands of gold,
and surmounted in the case of married women by a metal ornament which
may be triangular, oval, round, or crescent-shaped. The only rule from
which no departure may be made is that the crown be absolutely vertical,
whereas the crown common to the spinster of the community slants abruptly
towards the front. All without exception display a brim composed of an
outstanding frill of white lace encrusted with seed pearls, and an
enormous veil of white gauze embroidered and edged with gold, which is
attached to the top of the _kokoschink_ and floats over the shoulders,
the two points dipping to touch the ground at either side.

These veils are not, as might easily be supposed, of Mohammedan origin,
nor are they even remotely associated with romance. As a matter of fact,
nothing could well be more prosaic than their history, for they were
first adopted as a protection against the plague of flies with which the
district is infested in warm weather.

Pre-eminently picturesque, the costume they shroud reveals a skirt of
such generous proportions as to recall memories of the crinoline. This is
of silk, and buttons down the front, and it is not only edged with gold,
but bears an all-over pattern traced in gold galon. The loose sleeveless
jacket terminates below the waist, where it stands out stiffly, and is
of similar texture, treated in equally lavish style with gold, the huge
leg-o'-mutton sleeves belonging to the white chemisette being richly
embroidered in gold thread. The throat is hidden by an unyielding cravat
of white taffetas ruled with fine gold cord, the short ends crossed under
the chin; and the shoes are of morocco or velvet, with a design worked in
gold threads.

In winter the veil is abandoned in favour of a shawl of white taffetas
fringed with gold, worn over a modified version of the summer
_kokoschink_, in pale blue silk, embroidered with seed pearls and gold.
The all-enveloping greatcoat is of cloth or velvet, edged with fur, and
lapped well over on the right side, where it fastens near the shoulder
only. A feature of the wrap is the sleeve, which is narrow and of
abnormal length, terminating below the knees in a fur cuff, no hint
being allowed to transpire of the hands thus jealously guarded from the
unwelcome attentions of frost.

The peasant woman of Riazan wears black shoes, white stockings rucked at
the ankles, a shortish skirt of bright blue cotton, and a fringed apron
worked in a variety of colours, notably yellow and scarlet. The chief
garment is the ponka, a loose round coat to the knees, very like that
of a Chinaman, fashioned from white linen edged with a narrow border of
red, the wide elbow-sleeves terminating in an inch-deep band of the same.
Open in front, the jacket allows a liberal view of a red blouse, worked
in a characteristic cross-stitch design in brilliant shades, the long
"bishop" sleeves being of plain Turkey-red, finished with shallow frills
hemmed with blue in a tone corresponding to that of the skirt. Almost
impossible to describe in words, the _kitschka_, or local head-dress,
can best be pictured as a miniature version of the bonnet characteristic
of the Salvation Army lass. Composed of red velvet, it is neatly draped
with a silk kerchief the shade of the feathers on a pigeon's breast. From
the back dangle two unequal ends, one on top of the other, white edged
with red, the extremities consisting of stiffened squares of scarlet
passementerie, trimmed at the bottom with shallow red fringe.

In striking contrast to the types already mentioned, the costume of a
Tartar woman bears evidence of her Oriental descent, the memory of which
she strives still further to perpetuate by staining her nails with henna
and blackening her eyebrows and hair. She betrays a decided predilection
for striped silken textures, which she occasionally varies in favour
of a large all-over pattern. Her ordinary toilet is composed of baggy
trousers concealed beneath a long flowing robe of red and white figured
silk, surmounted by a second shapeless garment to the knees in the
nature of a coat. The last is evolved from striped pink and white silk,
and fastens near the right shoulder with three small metal buttons set
closely together, while through the loosely flapping fronts protrudes
the fringed end of a sumptuously embroidered sash. Covering the head and
shoulders is a sweeping veil of white silk, pin striped with green, that
falls to the ground and envelops the figure after the fashion of a cloak,
slits being provided for the hands to pass through; and although the
Tartars are Mohammedans by religion, the face is left bare.

Although palpably designed for use rather than ornament, the dress of the
women of Kherson is far from being wholly unattractive. A white kerchief,
drawn over the head, falls in points on the shoulders, concealing the
hair, but leaving the ears exposed to show dangling ear-rings. The
chemisette of thick white cotton introduces a touch of colour at the
wrists of the wide sleeves, and the loose sleeveless bodice reveals a
heart-shaped opening in front, and is confined by a striped scarf wound
about the waist and held by a leather belt fastened with an imposing
silver clasp. The narrow fringed apron is of carpet material over a plain
skirt cut short above the ankles to reveal a gaily-embroidered petticoat.

The ceremonial costume of the women of Simbirsk is very peculiar. High
and square, the hat is of velvet, with a close brim composed of a broad
hand of white sheep's wool drawn down over the brows, giving the wearer
a slightly lowering expression. A shower of gilt coins jangles in the
ears, and the long-sleeved white tunic fits tightly up to the throat
and ceases abruptly at the knees, where it is met by leggings of white
felt cross-gartered the entire distance, the garters doing double duty,
as they serve as supports for the low shoes. The most extraordinary
and characteristic feature of the entire toilet is a large square
breast-plate of white metal covered with pieces of money and copper
discs, which combine the roles of amulets and ornaments. This odd and
warrior-like decoration is divided across the centre, and so forms two
separate portions, the upper being so arranged that it laps over the
under, when rendered necessary by the movements of the body. In addition,
a small silver cross is worn suspended from a ribbon passed round the
neck.

Specially interesting by reason of the fact that Nijni Novgorod is the
scene of the most important fair in the world, the dress of the women of
the district consists of a fringed and embroidered shawl which envelops
the head and shoulders and is pinned under the chin. As is only to be
expected, fur plays a part in the trimming. The wide jacket reaches to
the waist, and reveals fur cuffs and an edging of fur about the bottom
and up the fronts. Not quite ankle length, the brocade skirt is bordered
with fringe, the plain or brocaded under-skirt descending to the ground.
Both skirts are immensely wide, and suggest the presence of a hooped
petticoat. The shawl and outer jacket removed, there are attractive
revelations of a sleeveless corsage of brocade and a white chemisette
conspicuous for sleeves that puff with exaggeration at the shoulder and
again below the elbow, finally coming in tightly at the wrist and ending
in frills. The jewellery, as is usual in Russia, is of a ponderous type,
and is most popular in the form of chains, necklaces, and finger-and
ear-rings.

The women of the people still plaster their faces crudely with white and
red cosmetics: a mode once in favour with the upper classes, but now
condemned as distinctly bad form and savouring of barbarity.

I cannot leave Russia without some reference to the Jews, who write now
as ever an important chapter in their history.

No Jew can justly be counted a peasant, since no member of the race is
allowed to be a land-owner, his utmost privilege permitting him to be a
tenant farmer. The distinctive garment remains what it has been through
many centuries--the gaberdine; but some concession is made to modern
opinion by the black peaked cap, which, in place of the old skull-cap, is
worn in the streets by the less prejudiced.

The gaberdine buttons down the front to the waist, hangs to the ankles,
and is usually now made of black cloth, silk, or moiré, held at the waist
by a folded belt. It is finished at the neck by a soft turn-down collar
attached to an under-shirt, and it conceals from view loose trousers
and high boots; in winter it is lined with fur. The chin is unshaven,
and a pendent curl hangs from either temple; and reverence for the old
traditions upholds the custom that on the Fast or Atonement day of the
Jews, the patriarch of the family shall attend the synagogue in his
shroud, and that the praying-shawl or _taleth_ of white, with a border of
blue, be worn every day at devotions.

The Jewish women of the poorer class wear a white kerchief over the head,
crossed on the bust of a black sateen jacket, which buttons on the slant
and reaches below the hips. The short skirt beneath is of a vivid tone of
red, covered by a white apron, and the most vital difference between the
Jew and the other races in Russia is the significant absence of the cross.

The working dress of the Jew consists of a pair of baggy trousers
disappearing into top-boots, and a white shirt drawn into the waist
by a leather belt, surmounted by a round cloth cap, for no religious
Jew ever uncovers his head. The hair would seem to have some special
importance, for no Jewish woman who marries is allowed to retain her
tresses; they are cropped or shaved close to the head, which is covered
by a black satin cap, down the centre of which a white thread is sewn in
imitation of a parting. This sacrifice is demanded of all who would enjoy
matrimony; and the great question as to whether the cause is worthy has
not yet been aired in any halfpenny daily issued at St. Petersburg.

Chancing upon a book of costume, which included details of the dress worn
by a tribe known as the Wotiaks, who inhabit a small village in Siberia,
I learned that the women wear a peculiar costume consisting of a shift of
coarse linen, slit in front like a man's shirt, and hemmed up at either
side with worsted of different colours. The gown, which is woollen,
somewhat in the shape of the habit of the Jesuits in college, reaches to
the knees, and is fastened by a girdle. The head-dress is very remarkable
and intricate, including much wrapping of a towel, over which is placed
a helmet made of the bark of a tree, ornamented by a piece of cloth and
copecs, and covered with a handkerchief wrought with worsted of different
colours and edged with a fringe.

The Mordvine women, if married, have the privilege of wearing a high cap
worked in coloured threads, with flaps hanging down at the back, adorned
with chains and pendent fringes. The linen petticoats and aprons show
much embroidery of red and blue and many fringes, and tassels and beads
hang down behind.

Linen and ribbons, embroidery and coloured worsted, are the common
features of dresses in all the villages, and the plait of hair, with
strings of coral and ribbon, afford the young girl some opportunity for
coquetry; and at Kirguise there is a head-dress specially worthy of note.
Three or four yards of material are placed on the head, with the ends
hanging on either side of the face, and over this is bound another stuff
to form a turban, the hair being plaited in two and brought up over the
head to fall down again over the ears.

In Cracow the open shirt is decked with collar and wristbands tied with
ribbons, and over this is a tunic reaching to the knee, fastened in
front, and held by a girdle ornamented with copper studs. The cap of
cloth bordered with fur is common in this district as in many others.

The dress of the Saxon peasants near Dresden bears a suggestion of joy in
its multi-coloured details. They wear dark petticoats with white jackets
and aprons; and round the neck a scarlet handkerchief, the ends of which
appear under the jacket, and a huge frill tied with a large blue bow
in front and a large crimson one at the back. The hair is quite hidden
by a closely-fitting cap of crimson with a white border, or a coloured
handkerchief is pinned tightly round the head, and big bows are placed at
the back.

The men in the Tyrol wear short coats, bordered and lined with a bright
colour, and they show their polychromatic prejudices further in their
vests of green, yellow, or scarlet, striped with black and white. Their
short trousers reach to their bare knees, and are ornamented with designs
in white thread, and their green felt hats are conical in shape, with
narrow brims, flaunting a bunch of coloured ribbons on one side.

The dress worn by the women is very pretty, displaying a yellow or red
stomacher and dark bodice, worn over nine or ten full short petticoats
in different colours. The aprons have coloured borders, and a black
handkerchief is crossed over the bosom under the stomacher, fur being
permitted to trim the sleeves when long; but with the short sleeve
the white frill puts in an appearance at the elbow, and black mittens
embroidered in colours cover the hands and arms.

Huge caps with plaited crowns, with a feather or bunch of flowers,
constitute the ordinary head-dress; and the hair is turned back from the
face, braided at the back, and kept in place by very long gold pins. The
stockings have quaint limitations, reaching only from knee to ankle, and
the shoes are of black leather.

Quaintness is the distinguishing feature of the Dutch peasant, men and
women,--the latter in their full and very short petticoats, laced bodice
and long tight sleeves, the hair bound and knotted with ribbons; the
former in their closely-fitting coats with monster pockets, very wide
breeches, and long waistcoats.

"I don't like them buttons," a millionaire model once said to his
portrait painter; and a criticism of this kind would come with a
touch of authority from the rich Guelderland peasant, whose costume
is all buttons. Coat, waistcoat, waistband, trousers, and shoes are
all decorated with gold and silver buttons, while at the throat is a
silver clasp, and the women have gold ornaments on their dress and in
their hair, and golden trinkets hang about them everywhere with more
recklessness than reason.

The peasants of French Flanders wear short full petticoats, and a jacket
laced up the front, gold ear-rings and a golden cross being conspicuous
features of their costume, which includes a black bib and a cap with a
pleated border. A short coat of black and a veil of three or four yards
of stuff are added for "walking out."

The Westphalian peasant appears to have an odd taste in headgear,
judging from the picture on page 142, and the black bow which extends
beyond either ear must be stiffened with whalebone to induce it to such
a rectitude of conduct. The small linen turban is held by a piece of
black ribbon, beneath which appears a band of white lawn. Black lends
a picturesque touch to the front of the low bodice, which is outlined
by a handkerchief of white lawn held in front by two elaborate designs
of embroidery; embroidery of green and black and red putting in its
appearance round the hem of the plain serge skirt.

[Illustration: A WESTPHALIAN PEASANT.]

The comfortable advantage of reindeer skin was appreciated by the
Norwegian peasants in their dress of olden times, and cloaks of this
were generally worn until the city of Bergen was built by King Oluf in
the eleventh century, and the coming of foreign merchants introduced a
variety of new fashions. According to Norwegian chroniclers, the natives
took greedily to fine laced hose, golden plates buckled round their legs,
high-heeled shoes stitched with silk and covered with tissue of gold,
jackets that buttoned on the side, with sleeves ten feet long, pleated up
to the shoulders.

The long reindeer-skin garment did not, however, disappear entirely,
until the rule of short clothes and bare legs was inaugurated by King
Magnus Olufsen.

The varieties of fashion do not seem to affect the peasants now; they
note with indifference the changes of costume, and cling mainly to the
dress which has descended through many generations. Their breeches and
stockings are cut in one; their waistcoats are of woollen material
with the seams covered with cloth of different colour; on their heads
they wear brown, grey, or black caps, or broadly brimmed hats; while
their heel-less shoes are made of two pieces of leather, and the laced
half-boots used in winter are covered with sealskin.

The Swedish peasants are devoted to long coats of cloth lined with
sheepskin, and the women choose their woollen gowns striped with green
and white and red.

The Norwegian fête dress consists of a laced jacket and leather girdle
set with silver, and indispensable are many rows of chain holding a gilt
or silver pendant. The kerchief and cap are covered with silver, tin,
and brass plates, buttons and rings being used _ad libitum_, and very
fine linen is amongst the luxuries.

Almost every parish in Norway has its own colour, a scheme which might
considerably assist the police and municipal authorities in the sordid
byways of crime, or the roseate paths of romance.

[Illustration: HUNGARIAN PEASANT IN SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.]

The Hungarian peasant women may be noted in passing for their yellow
leather boots and low iron heels, and they study the serviceable and the
beautiful in their many coloured bodices and petticoats, and white apron
and long plaits. The Hungarian peasant woman illustrated shows the effect
of white linen for the head, with the dress of canvas embroidered in red
and blue and violet.

The fête dress of the Morlacchi woman is a gorgeous affair, with a
chemisette embroidered in gold and red, and the blue petticoat upheld
by a woollen girdle trimmed with shells. The stockings are red, and
the shoes of undressed leather. The unmarried women wear strange head
ornaments, including a scarlet cap with a pendent veil, and such
decorations as silver coins, glass beads, feathers, shells, artificial
flowers, and glass plumes, all of which elegancies are dispensed with at
the altar, for the matron enwraps her head with a handkerchief and allows
her hair to fall simply over her shoulders. The virgin conceals her hair
with a cap, and twists beads and coins amongst her locks in approved
Tartar fashion. The married woman is allowed the ease of the Turkish
slipper, and all alike wear strings of beads round the neck, and as many
brass and tin rings as they can obtain; and bracelets of leather covered
with wrought silver or tin, and embroidered stomachers adorned with beads
and shells express the last word of "smartness."

The Finland peasant woman seems to be the only one with a nice
appreciation of brown. She chooses this for her bodice, with a short
skirt of black, and her sleeves are loose and decked with blue and red,
and round her neck are five rows of large beads, while her pendent
ornaments are of beads, and her quaint little apron of blue is striped
with blue and black and a design in yellow and red beads. The white
kerchief covers the head and forehead, falling on to her shoulders, and
round her waist is fastened a belt striped with red and fringed.

But gather your peasant costume where you may, whether in the North
or the West of Europe, you will find its most prominent details the
contrasting colour of the bodice, the blue and red embroidery, the
silver and gold ornaments, and the linen and canvas fabrics. The kerchief
and the cap are the distinguishing features, and the shape and fashion of
the jewellery are inspired as often as not by the prevailing religious
rites and the superstitious beliefs of the district.

[Illustration: IN CHINA OF OLD.]



CHAPTER XIII

OF ORIENTAL DRESS


All over China, and particularly in official circles, dress is determined
by certain fixed laws, the result being that every detail possesses
a meaning for those capable of interpreting it. The most significant
feature is the button which adorns the crowns of hats peculiar to
Mandarins, while embroideries likewise assist in determining the status
of the wearer. Colour is another factor of importance. Yellow is sacred
to the Emperor, the members of the Imperial family, and those privileged
few to whom the sovereign desires to award the highest honour. Red is
exclusively reserved for Mandarins, but blue, violet, and black are
common property.

In the matter of feminine attire, fashion is equally subjective to
legislature, and has varied little throughout the centuries. With regard
to the ladies of the Imperial household, the rules laid down for their
guidance, in the matter of personal adornment, are as comprehensive as
stringent.

Custom not only ordains that the Emperor shall have one hundred and
thirty wives, it also decrees what they shall wear.

As chief wife and equal in all points to her Celestial consort, it is
incumbent upon the Empress to be distinguished from her _entourage_ by
the magnificence of her raiment. For this she depends upon the materials
employed and the embroideries, as the costume common to all Chinese women
of position is modelled on similar lines, namely, a long under-dress,
usually of plain silk, arranged in stiff, overlapping pleats at the
foot. This is surmounted by an over-dress in a contrasting colour,
elaborately embroidered with the insignia of the husband's rank, and
terminating just below the knees, while the sleeves reach to the wrist,
where they are supplemented by tight inner sleeves, belonging to the
under-dress, and almost completely concealing the hand. The collar is not
more than an inch deep, and is round in shape, a becoming touch being
added by a narrow scarf of soft silk twisted once about the throat,
and knotted loosely, with the ends allowed to hang unevenly in front.
A rare illumination depicts the Empress seated upon a throne of carved
wood draped with green silk. On her head is a cope-like erection edged
with dangling pearl fringe, her jewellery consisting of jade ear-rings
and bracelets contrived from the same precious stone. Her under-robe is
sumptuously embroidered in a dazzling variety of colours, pleated and
lined with gold tissue, while the upper garment is of red silk, worked
in an all-over design of dragons, emblematic of Imperialism by reason
of the distinguishing five claws, the border being of dark blue richly
embroidered in sombre tones. In her right hand she holds the sceptre, a
twisted stick headed by a fabulous bird.

Next in rank to the Empress are the three wives known by the title of
Fou-gin. Etiquette decrees that they shall wear dresses adorned with
feathers worked in five shades. Inferior again to these are the nine
Imperial consorts known as Pins. To them are assigned robes of brilliant
yellow, the thirty-seven Chi-fous donning white. The lowest wives of all
are the Yu-tsis, eighty in number, and they are doomed to appear in black.

The over-dress common to Chinese ladies is coat-shaped, and opens up the
sides for a considerable distance, another distinctive feature being the
sleeves, which boast a single seam under either arm and are cut in one
with the remainder of the garment, which, in winter, is lined with the
costliest fur.

Considerable attention is devoted to the hair. In Pekin girls
arrange theirs in tufts on the temples, while the back hangs down in
multitudinous plaits. As soon as they become engaged they turn it up and
thrust a silver pin, a foot in length, through the thick tresses. This
pin, by the way, is as significant of betrothal as is the ring in Europe.
On her wedding day the bride's hair is shaven in front, to heighten the
forehead, and the remainder braided and coiled about a stiff black silk
frame which rests on the nape of the neck. This done, flowers, feathers,
glass ornaments, or, for the rich, jewellery set with uncut stones, are
added. A popular style on ordinary occasions is to twist the hair into
outstanding bunches at either ear and decorate the excrescences with
flowers.

A small foot is highly esteemed as a beauty, and causes its possessor
to be ardently sought after in marriage. The practice, however, of
mutilating the feet in order to achieve the desired result is limited
to one daughter out of five in each family, while the women of Tartary
disdain the notion altogether. The diminutive foot, erroneously held to
be typical of all Chinese ladies of rank, is encased in a silk or cotton
slipper raised on a thick, inclined sole. Those who are incapable of
getting into a shoe compared with which Cinderella's glass slipper would
appear gigantic, have recourse to the stratagem of wearing a similar
model fitted with a high heel set in the middle of the sole. Perched on
such an uncertain support, they walk with the mincing steps and swaying
gait which, for them, constitute the acme of grace, but which, in
barbarian eyes, suggest nothing more alluring than an imminent danger of
toppling over.

Abnormally long finger-nails are likewise held to enhance the natural
charms of lovely woman, and the use of cosmetics is freely indulged
in. A fan is always carried, and frequently a pipe, conspicuous for a
diminutive bowl and long slender stem.

As representing officialdom, the Mandarins, or Kwans, as they are called
in their own country, are quite the most important body of men in the
Celestial Empire. They are divided into nine classes, each of which is
subdivided into two. A glance at the button on the hat is sufficient to
determine the rank of the wearer.

The significance attached to this particular decoration is as follows:--

                                                  Class.  Degree.
    Red   { A ruby or other precious stone         1st     1st
          { Coral                                  1st     2nd
          { A red jewel of inferior quality        2nd     1st
          { Coral carved in the form of a flower   2nd     2nd

     Blue { A light-blue precious stone            3rd     1st
          { The same only smaller                  3rd     2nd
          { A dark-blue precious stone             4th     1st
          { The same only smaller                  4th     2nd

    White { Crystal                                5th     1st
          { The same only smaller                  5th     2nd
          { A white precious stone                 6th     1st
          { The same only smaller                  6th     2nd

     Gold { Gold                                   7th     1st
          { Smaller                                7th     2nd
          { Smaller                                8th     1st
          { Smaller                                8th     2nd

The last class of all is similarly represented by a gold button. The
button employed on ceremonial occasions differs from that worn every day,
in that it is round, whereas the latter is oblong.

Another distinctive feature of a Mandarin's dress is the pectoral--a
small piece of material attached to the breast. In the case of civil
dignitaries it is embroidered with birds, while in that of military
authorities it displays quadrupeds.

[Illustration: A CHINESE ACTOR.]

The official costume consists of a long, loose gown which opens up the
centre and is gorgeously embroidered with dragons or winged serpents. The
claws further testify to the rank of the wearer, those dragons possessing
three or four being the exclusive privilege of members of the first four
classes, who are also entitled to wear peacock's feathers at the back of
their hats, and chains of coral, the red parasol being another of their
prerogatives. Over the under-robe is worn an ample coat of plain silk
extending below the knees. This has wide sleeves, which allow a view of
tight under-sleeves pertaining to the embroidered robe, and drawn down
to cover the hands, and shaped at the ends in the form of a horseshoe.
About the waist is a deep embroidered band, that serves as pocket in case
of need, while a square, embroidered collar rests on the shoulders and
tapers up to vanishing point at the throat in front. The hair hangs in
a tightly-plaited pigtail, lengthened by the addition of false tresses,
and the characteristic hat boasts a brim of satin, velvet, or fur, shaped
like a saucer, its red crown surmounted by the all-important button. The
shoes are those which a man of position must always wear in public.
Sabot-shaped, with thick soles, they are covered in silk, satin, or
cotton, and there is no difference between the right and left foot. A
coveted military distinction is a fox's tail arranged at the back of the
hat. The most signal mark of Imperial favour, however, is permission to
wear a yellow coat.

[Illustration: A CHINESE PEASANT.]

In his everyday attire the Mandarin observes none of these elaborate
formulæ. He dons a loose robe of silk to the ankles, an umbrella-shaped
hat, and heel-less shoes with pointed toes that curve slightly upwards,
contrived from rattan plaited in such a manner as to allow freely of
ventilation. In his right hand he carries a fan and in his left a checked
handkerchief of imposing dimensions.

The ordinary dress of men of the middle classes comprises a short shirt
cut low at the throat, drawers, socks of material made with a single seam
up the back, a long embroidered coat, and a shorter jacket of some plain
fabric, held by a broad waist-belt, embroidered in colours and fastened
by a jade ornament.

The headgear differs according to the season. In summer a conical-shaped
straw hat is chosen, and in winter small hats obtain either of hard felt
with stiff, upturned brims or of felt soft and pliable.

The costume of the lower orders is simplicity itself. A cotton shirt,
trousers, and a loose sleeveless coat exhaust the list. A narrow strip of
material is tied round the waist in order to prevent the clothing getting
in the worker's way, and the naked feet are thrust into low sandals.

Occasionally the ubiquitous pigtail is turned up and pinned in a coil
about the head, but this liberty is never permitted in the presence
of a superior. As a matter of fact, the etiquette of dress is rigidly
observed throughout China. No gentleman would dream of either paying or
receiving a visit without shoes on his feet, a fan in his hand, and a
wide, pointed hat, rather suggestive of a tent, on his head. How true it
is that manners, like morals, are mere matters of geography!

In contrast to the love of display characteristic of their Chinese
neighbours, the Japanese are conspicuous for extreme simplicity. This
national trait finds expression in their dress. Here I pause to consider
whether, as a chronicler of costume, I should allude to the Japanese in
the present or past tense? I regretfully incline to the latter view,
for there is little doubt that the smoke of factory chimneys, built on
European lines and fed with Cardiff coal, is rapidly blurring local
colour. Already the quaint little men have adopted the outward and
visible sign of inward civilisation in the form of a frock coat and top
hat. Their women-folk have followed their example and discarded the
picturesque for the prosaic, exchanging the fashions transmitted by
their ancestresses for those telegraphed from Paris. Will the Geishas do
likewise, and is another decade destined to see them in caps and aprons,
and will--Imagination fails me, and I revert to the glorious days of
the Daimios and Samourais--days for which, I am firmly convinced, every
frock-coated Japanese sighs as ardently as I do.

In old Japan social distinctions were drawn for all time, and there
was no crossing the line of demarcation. Society was divided into nine
grades. The princes, or Daimios, the nobles, or Samourai, the priests,
and the military composed the first four. These were entitled to carry
two swords, while the intellectual class, which numbered doctors in its
ranks, was allowed one. The remainder, including lawyers, were debarred
the privilege of bearing arms.

From the age of seven the son of a Samourai appeared in public wearing
the two swords distinctive of his rank. They were small, of course, as
appropriate to his size and strength, but were otherwise perfect in every
detail.

Despite rigorously-observed social divisions, all classes wore the same
outer garment, the difference being in the materials employed. Until
the influx of Europeans made its levelling influence felt, the use of
silk by any but the nobility was strictly prohibited. The article of
attire common to both sexes of the community was the kimono, a loose,
flowing wrap which opened down the centre and crossed over at the breast,
where on men it was held in place by a narrow belt, while women wore a
wide sash neatly folded and tied in an elaborate bow behind. Although
the sleeves were immensely wide and hung in deep points, only a small
opening was left for the hand to pass through, the remainder being joined
together to serve as pocket. Etiquette exacting that what a guest could
not eat he should take home, the superfluous dainties were carefully
enveloped in paper and deposited in the roomy sleeves.

Handkerchiefs were of tissue paper, and were carried in the belt; while
no Japanese, of either sex or any rank, from the Mikado downwards, would
consent to even a momentary separation from his or her fan.

Masculine costume consisted of tight trousers to the calf and the loose,
round shirts, which were fashioned from white material for the people
and from greyish-blue silk for the nobility; and labourers displayed on
theirs the insignia of their special craft or of the corporation to which
they belonged. Common to all classes were high wooden clogs and sandals
of plaited straw. Peculiar to the aristocracy and certain regiments,
notably the archers, were short trousers of brilliantly-coloured silk,
cut so immensely wide as to suggest the petticoats of a ballet girl. On
ceremonious occasions the feet and legs were left bare. Stockings were
cut out of cotton, or stuff, neatly seamed up the back, and were made
with a division at the great toe for the thong of the sandal. On the
whole, subdued shades and dark colours predominated, the Japanese being
distinguished by the quiet elegance of their taste.

Typical of the headgear affected by the lower classes in warm weather
was a huge straw hat in the form of a dish-cover. Another characteristic
example, likewise of straw, resembled a round, deep-edged tray, the
brim turned downwards, and the whole was held in place by means of a
chin-strap.

Women, as a rule, left the head uncovered, preferring to rely for
protection upon flat umbrellas made of paper, cotton, or silk. They drew
their hair off the forehead, dressing it in neat puffs or coils and
decorating it with large, ornamental pins, flowers, and ribbons, but
neither ear-rings nor any other articles of jewellery were worn.

Married women were distinguished by their blackened teeth and the fact
that their eyebrows were shaved and their faces unpainted. They wore a
long robe of red _crêpe de chine_ which folded over at the breast leaving
a V-shaped opening at the throat. Their pet vanity was to arrange their
under-garments so that the border of each formed a regular trimming at
the neck, a glance sufficing to show how many were worn--the greater the
number the greater the success achieved. On the back and sleeves of their
trailing silk kimonos were embroidered the arms of their house. When
walking, or otherwise inconvenienced by folds of material clinging about
their feet, they tucked the kimonos into the belt, a pretty fashion which
revealed the gaily-coloured gown beneath and the high wooden clogs.

The only difference between the dress of women of the upper and lower
classes was the employment of cotton instead of silk.

Despite the fact that European influence has done much towards imposing
European costume upon the Japanese, the influence is as yet restricted
to Tokio and other industrial centres. In rural districts the national
dress is still sacred, and the country-man remains a quaintly picturesque
figure to delight the visitor from across seas, who recognises in him the
prototype of the carved ivory models of the glass cabinet and curio table.

From the land of the chrysanthemum to that of the Pyramids is a far cry,
and in point of fact no more dissimilar types could be imagined than
those of old Japan and ancient Egypt. Woman's dress characteristic of
the latter country was marked by a shamelessness of display and a unique
brilliancy of colour, the effect of the scanty garments in vivid tones
accentuating rather than concealing the natural lines and curves of the
figure.

The chief article of attire would seem to have been the deep circular
collar worn round the throat, and this was typical of both sexes and of
all ranks of the community with the exception of the very meanest. It
was composed of jewels, metal, enamel work, or beads, according to the
position of the wearer. Feminine dress consisted of a tight sleeveless
robe, better described perhaps as a clinging skirt, of a texture adapted
to define the figure, reaching to the ankles, and extending a few inches
above the waist. It was held in place by a pair of straps which were
joined in the centre and, separating, passed over the shoulders to meet
again behind. The bust and arms were bare, the latter adorned with
bracelets at the wrist and again above the elbow. Anklets were worn, and
occasionally big circular ear-rings.

[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN PEASANT WOMAN.]

[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN WATER-CARRIER.]

The treatment of the hair was extremely elaborate and difficult, calling
for the exercise of considerable skill and patience. Cut straight across
the forehead, it was arranged with mathematical precision in several
rows of fine plaits, the clubbed ends terminating immediately below the
nape of the neck. As a coiffure of this kind necessitated an enormous
expenditure of time and labour, all classes of society had recourse to
wigs, the rich employing natural hair for the purpose, and the poor,
wool. A typical example of a fashionable perruque took the form of a
densely-braided mass which covered the head as efficaciously as a mat,
one large plait coming down at either side of the face, and curving round
on the shoulder in the shape of an elephant's trunk. The crown of the
head was usually encircled by a slender golden fillet, which, in the case
of a Pharaoh, or a royal lady, was twined about with the uræus, emblem
of supreme sovereignty. The head of the sacred asp reared threateningly
in the centre of the forehead. Cleopatra--not the famous Cleopatra of
Mark Antony, but one of her five predecessors--is represented with the
bare bosom, naked arms, circular collar, and skin-tight skirt common to
her countrywomen. A noteworthy feature is that her dress, of bright blue
and white material, shows horizontal stripes to the knees, where it is
joined by a slightly fuller flounce with the stripes running vertically.
It is supported by scarlet shoulder-straps, and the ribbon encircling
the crown of the head is in the same shade, knotted at the back, where
it hangs in two short ends. The wig is arranged in multitudinous plaits
that rest on the shoulders at either side and descend midway to the waist
behind. Above the forehead rears the royal asp, and over it tower two
straight quills, which form a background for the horns of a ram between
which glares a flaming sun; these quills, by the way, typify absolute
sovereignty.

[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN PEASANT.]

The head-covering in general use consisted of a piece of material shaped
to rest flat on the top of the head and describe a curve in front, with
a straight, narrow tab cut up at the side to allow free passage for the
shoulder, the back hanging curtain-wise to afford ample protection to the
nape of the neck. The textures employed for such purposes were cotton,
linen, and wool decorated with stripes or embroidery.

The men, as well as the women, glittered with bracelets, anklets, and
other jewellery of a massive and showy type. White was preferred to
colours for their clothing; and the habitual costume for men was of
the scantiest possible description, being nothing more or less than a
sleeveless tunic held up by shoulder-straps, a narrow piece of ribbon
being tied round the waist, terminating in two short ends in front. This
skirt or tunic reached to the knee or calf, and sometimes even as far as
the ankle; the legs, arms, and chest were bare, and the face clean-shaven.

A great warrior is depicted wearing a tightly-fitting shirt of mail
composed of bronze scales sewn on to soft leather, displaying short
sleeves and descending below the knees, a white metal gauntlet protecting
the left wrist. On the head is a high, narrow helmet which completely
conceals the hair, and from it floats three pendent ends of striped
material. About the throat is a jewelled and enamelled collar, and from
a thick gold chain hangs a large gold ornament engraved with figures.

It is known that the finest and most transparent muslins were first
manufactured by the ancient Egyptians, and doubtless these were used for
making dresses; indeed in proof of this many representations are extant
of female musicians clad in diaphanous muslin through which the body can
be clearly seen. The loose robe is drawn under the right arm and fastened
on the left shoulder.

Did Egyptian women ever grow old, I wonder, and if so, what did they
wear? The artists have left us no record save of the eternal feminine
eternally youthful.



CHAPTER XIV

OF ORIENTAL DRESS (_continued_)


"And never the twain shall meet," lilts Kipling of the East and the West;
and in the province of dress, as everywhere else in the Orient, caste,
ruling supreme, writes incontroversial laws of separation.

In India, the article of masculine attire to which most importance
attaches is the turban, its shape and general aspect denoting the social
and spiritual status of the wearer.

Until the founding of the Mogul Empire in 1505, the women of Hindostan
were strangers to the tyranny both of the Zenana and of the veil, but
from that time onwards traces of Mohammedan influence are plainly visible
in the habits and costume of the people.

The utmost magnificence and display characterised the dress of the Mogul
Emperors and their Court; and although differing in colour, texture, and
certain minute details, the costumes common to the period were identical
in broad outline and general design; and Fashion moved so slowly in a
country where tradition was regarded as law, that the sleeve and collar
in vogue at the end of a century were very like those obtaining at the
beginning.

A prince of the Mogul dynasty, who is depicted in a dress typical of
his time and rank, wears long, tightly-fitting pyjamas of striped red
and gold material, very much rucked at the calf and terminating at the
ankle. His feet are encased in embroidered slippers, which leave the
heel bare, the pointed toes curling upwards. The over-dress reaches to
below the knee, and is of transparent white tissue, the skirt pleated
and held at the waist by a sash, worked in gold, scarlet, and black,
knotted in front and with fringed ends falling in unequal lengths. A
jewel-hilted dagger is worn at the left side, and a narrow scarf, in
white and gold, crosses the breast, passing under the right arm and
over the left shoulder, where one end hangs down behind and the other
before. The closely-fitting sleeves are rucked, and bracelets are drawn
over them at the wrist and above the elbow, while several rows of pearls
appear at the neck. The small white turban is arranged in a point on the
forehead and encircled by a broad gold band and a string of pearls, the
latter raised in front by an enormous emerald, a superb aigrette waving
above an ornament glittering with diamonds and other precious stones; and
on state occasions a large sword, sheathed in crimson velvet, and with
a cross-shaped hilt studded with jewels, was carried, another mark of
Imperial dignity being the umbrella which overspread the throne.

The dress of high-born ladies was very similar to that of the men, for
it, too, consisted of rucked trousers, of brilliantly-coloured silk,
decorated with embroidery and confined at the feet with plain gold
bangles or jewelled anklets. The pointed slippers curved up at the toes
and left the heels exposed, and the pleated robe of transparent muslin
terminated at the calf. From the waist in front a width of gold tissue,
fringed and worked in various bright shades, hung apron-like, while the
bust was supported by a corselet contrived from polished wood so light
and so supple as in nowise to interfere with the lithe movements of the
body. The arms were bare, excepting for bracelets at the wrists and above
the elbow, and the head and upper portion of the figure were enveloped
in the graceful folds of a sari, or immense veil of diaphanous texture
bordered with gold and patterned in vivid colours. The hair was parted,
and fell in plaits behind, a jewelled ornament being worn in the centre
of the forehead; while a pearl was fastened into one nostril, and the
nails were stained vermilion.

[Illustration: AN OLD INDIAN FESTIVAL DRESS.]

Court dignitaries are represented in long, loose garments coming
below the knees and cut low at the throat to reveal a vest of fine
white material, but otherwise identical in design with the ordinary
dressing-gown of a man of to-day. The waist was encircled by a broad
band of embroidery, and the trousers completely encased the feet. On the
head was the inevitable turban, round in shape and wide of brim.

Under the British Raj, India retains her picturesque variety of costume,
and remains the one land faithful to the traditions of the turban. Hardly
less splendid than in the gorgeous days of the Mogul Empire is the dress
of a modern prince of the caste of Rajput. A small red turban is wound
tightly about the head, one short gold-bedizened end falling behind.
The big ear-rings are crescent-shaped, and the necklace is composed
of several rows of pearls. A white robe falls to the ankles, and is
surmounted by a shorter yellow jacket embroidered in colours and held
together at the waist by a sash of peacock blue satin, the gold fringed
ends falling unevenly in front. The tight sleeves terminate at the elbow,
where they are supplemented by white ones, which extend to the wrist.

Scarlet and white are the favourite contrast, and the effect is to make
the crowded bazaars brilliant and attractive to the eye.

A costume characteristic of a Pathan, a Musulman by religion, consists
of a white turban of voluminous proportions wound in such a manner as
to form a wide brim. The tight trousers are clearly visible through a
flowing robe of figured white cotton, which reaches nearly to the ground,
and, crossing over at the breast, is kept in place by a striped shawl
folded about the waist, the picture being completed by velvet slippers
turned up at the toes. The coolies are generally naked except for a
loin-cloth and turban, but some wear a white cotton shirt, short-sleeved
and held by a folded belt in some bright shade.

Brahmins are distinguished by the sacred cord, in reality a twisted rope
of cotton, which hangs from the left shoulder to the middle of the thigh.
A typical costume is evolved from a long, straight piece of material
wound round the body from the waist downwards, and drawn between the legs
to form a trouser-like division. A shawl, draped about the upper portion
of the figure, is manipulated in such a way as to cross on the left
shoulder, one end hanging in front and the other behind. A shako-shaped
turban and a chaplet of beads put the finishing touches, while on the
forehead, breast, and bare arms the mark of the sect is painted with
white powder.

From the age of seven, Parsees of both sexes don the sadra or sacred
surplice emblematic of the coat of mail worn in ancient times by the
Guebers to ward off the attacks of Ahriman, spirit of evil. The dress of
the men comprises light, baggy trousers, white stockings, flat-heeled
slippers, a tight black coat, usually of alpaca, buttoned down the front,
and a high sugar-loaf hat of shiny black.

Nothing more charming could be devised than the dress peculiar to the
female followers of Zoroaster. Until she marries the Parsee girl wears
wide trousers fashioned from brilliantly-hued silk or satin, and the
hems of the legs are adorned with bands of embroidery in quaint designs
of birds and beasts worked in the most gorgeous tints. Her inner
garment is a long sleeved jacket of white muslin, over which comes the
sadra, or loose, square tunic lacking sleeves, and distinguished by the
magnificence of its embroideries. The hair, divided in the centre and
hanging down behind, is crowned by a little circular cap of black velvet
covered with gold and silver embroidery and studded with seed pearls,
while on the feet are gaily-embroidered slippers. Etiquette decrees
that before her wedding the Parsee woman must submit to having her head
shaved, a martyrdom which is responsible for the nun-like band of white
material drawn low on the forehead. She continues to wear the trousers,
but exchanges the decorative sadra for an even more superb sari. This
voluminous drapery is of gold-bordered muslin in warm weather, at other
seasons a long, straight piece of silk or satin wondrously coloured and
exquisitely embroidered. It is wound round and round the body, outlining
it tightly at the back, and hanging in straight folds in front, each
evolution being accomplished in pleats, to attain sufficient fulness; and
finally the end is drawn over the head, concealing one ear and leaving
the other exposed, a practice which explains the single earring worn by
Parsee women. In warm weather the sari is of muslin and boasts a wide
gold border.

The principal item in the wardrobe of the Hindu woman is likewise the
sari, which she arranges as the Parsee does hers. The texture varies
according to the means of the wearer. The poor employ cotton, but they
invariably endeavour to have an ornamental border of some kind. The
simply-made skirt reaches to the ankles, and the chuli, a short-sleeved
jacket of diminutive proportions, terminates immediately below the bust,
leaving the middle of the figure uncovered excepting for the sari. The
hair is twisted in a heavy coil low down on the nape of the neck, a
style rendered necessary by the custom of carrying weights on the head.

The poor Hindu, distrustful of other securities, invests such worldly
wealth as he possesses in jewellery for his wife, who appears laden
with bracelets, of painted wood or coloured glass. As many as twelve
rings jingle from the much-pierced rim of either ear, while an ornament,
frequently of preposterous size, is affixed to one nostril, and in
addition there are anklets, necklaces, and toe and finger rings.

If the outdoor dress of Persian women be any criterion, their husbands
must be the most jealous in the world, for not one of the charms
accredited to frail femininity is allowed to transpire. The veil and
all-enveloping mantle maintain a profound reserve, so that whether the
wearer be old or young, slender or stout, attractive or repulsive,
remains for ever an impenetrable mystery. Before quitting the seclusion
of the Andaran, the Persian woman assumes an effective disguise. First
she draws on a pair of dark green or grey trousers, one leg at a time,
for there is no connection between the two, and these are fastened at
the waist by a belt. Their shape is peculiar; for, baggy to the knees,
they fit closely at the calf and encase the foot after the manner of a
stocking. Over these is worn an ample mantle of black silk, cotton, or
muslin, covering the head and shrouding the entire figure, the ends drawn
up at the bust and held by strings, which are crossed and tied round the
neck. A thick white veil--an essential item from the age of nine--falls
from the forehead to the waist in front, and is pinned at the back of the
head to keep it in place, a narrow insertion of net appearing at the
eyes, to allow sight to the wearer.

The indoor dress of a Persian lady consists of a full skirt to the
ankles, fashioned from cloth of gold, velvet, or some other costly
fabric, trimmed with beautiful embroidery. A loose jacket of soft white
muslin, decorated with a peculiar kind of lace, forms a vest in front
beneath an open embroidered jacket of a shade contrasting with that
of the skirt. This jacket reaches to the waist, and has long sleeves
conspicuous for turned-back cuffs. A cashmere shawl is draped on the
shoulders, and a white veil is arranged kerchief-wise on the head and
fastened under the chin with a jewelled brooch, leaving only the oval
of the face visible. The brows are encircled by a golden fillet, from
the centre of which depends a jewel, while the hair is parted and hangs
down behind in three or more plaits, their ends tied with gay ribbons or
weighted with pearls or silk tassels.

A variation of this style is noted in the dress of the ladies of
Trebizond, their cashmere shawl being smaller and arranged over the skirt
in such a way that a point falls down behind. The snowy muslin chemisette
is cut low at the throat, and the embroidered coat shows a heart-shaped
opening fastening only at the waist with two buttons; and on the head is
a small round cap.

Female servants are generally barefooted, their full skirts terminating
midway to the ankles, and pulled low down on the hips, so that the short
white under-jacket and little coat of coloured material terminating at
the waist, expose the centre of the body to view.

The official classes have discarded the turban in favour of the fez,
a closely-fitting cap some six inches in height, contrived from black
cloth or astrakhan. These are plain, with the exception of the jewelled
fez peculiar to the Shah, and of the caps of certain high military
authorities, which bear a distinctive badge of a gold lion and sun
affixed above the forehead, a field-marshal wearing two lions surmounted
by a crown. The turbans of the priests are large and round, those
characteristic of the Seyyids, the direct descendants of Ali, being in
a bright shade of green. As a rule, the official classes wear trousers
and black frock coats that differ from those customary in Europe only
in that they are arranged in numerous pleats, which, commencing at the
hips, continue round the back. Infinitely more characteristic is the
costume affected by merchants, this section of the community exhibiting a
partiality for lightish blue cloth of native manufacture. The long coat,
or ghaba, is loose and flowing. Double-breasted, it laps over and fastens
with two buttons, while about the waist a shawl is wound several times,
knotted, and the ends tucked out of sight. The overcoat, or aba, is of
rough brown material, open in front, and the wide sleeves terminate at
the elbow. A towering fez or a rolled turban is worn, according to the
taste of the wearer.

The priests, or Mullahs, affect much the same style of garb; and, as
I write, one whom I knew rises up before me. His was a most imposing
personality. Of middle height, he seemed much taller by reason of his
large white turban and ample robe of dark blue that flowed to his ankles,
revealing heel-less shoes of bright yellow leather. Round in shape, his
head was shaven, and his beard was trimmed to a point and stained with
henna. About his waist a white shawl was wrapped six times, and into it
was tucked a big striped cotton handkerchief. In his hand he carried a
rosary composed of a hundred clay beads, and, when he walked, the dignity
of his demeanour was further enhanced by a long white mantle which he
wore flung over his right shoulder.

Persians eschew gaudy colours and striking contrasts in dress, preferring
quiet shades and harmonious combinations; dull reds, dim blues, and
sombre greens being favourite tints. The diplomatic uniform is black, the
front of the tight coat one blaze of gold embroidery; and the official
sword is suspended from a narrow belt.

In Turkey, as elsewhere, international intercourse has gradually led
to the disappearance of those salient features which make for the
characteristic in dress. In Constantinople the official classes wear the
conventional garb of Western Europe, with the one noteworthy exception
of the fez, a red cloth cap surmounted by a black silk tassel. French
fashions are permitted in the privacy of the harem, but etiquette decrees
that the women, before they go out, shall exchange these for a simple
toilet of nun-like severity; and the ladies of the Sultan's household,
who are never seen in public unless in a carriage or boat, don an
all-enveloping mantle of black silk in winter and of some light shade
in summer; and over this two white veils are worn. The first covers the
face as far as the bridge of the nose, and the second is drawn across the
brows, shrouding the head and leaving only the eyes visible. But in truth
these yashmaks are so transparent that they serve to enhance rather
than conceal the charms, natural and artificial, of the wearer. Through
the shimmering white drapery the flower-decked hair is clearly seen, and
romantic in the extreme is the effect of a small boat with three rowers,
and a veiled figure under a fluttering lace parasol, gliding swiftly over
the sun-kissed waters of the Bosphorus.

The walking dress in vogue in modern Constantinople is even plainer.
It consists of a black silk skirt and a silk cape to the waist, the
cape being provided with an additional piece to cover the head, and an
essential complement is a short veil of close black net. In summer black
is exchanged for light colours, but the style remains the same.

The priests, with true ecclesiastical fidelity to tradition, have
remained constant to the old-world style of dressing; and to this day
they cut picturesque figures in a red fez encircled by a narrow white
turban, loose trousers kept in place by a cashmere shawl, dark yellow
in colour and of great beauty of design, and a black caftan, a garment
almost identical with that of the cassock worn by the clergy of the
Church of England.

Another survival which is familiar to the casual visitor to
Constantinople is the dress of certain labourers, consisting of baggy
pantaloons to the knee or a little beyond, red shoes, a long sleeved
cotton shirt, and a short, sleeveless jacket of blue or black material,
a red fez, and a coloured shawl about the waist.

Formerly fur trimmings denoted great opulence and luxury, and the skins
most favoured were ermine, sable, marten, white fox, and squirrel, which
were changed according to a prescribed formula. The date for one to be
discarded and another substituted was fixed by the Sultan, who usually
elected to appear in new clothes on a Friday, when attending mosque. The
Grand Vizier was officially notified of the intended change, whereupon
he immediately sent word to the entire Court, who hastened to follow the
sovereign's example.

The outdoor dress of ladies in those days was a lengthy mantle of dark
material, which boasted long sleeves and a deep sailor collar of red,
blue, or green satin; essential accessories being the two white veils
and top boots of yellow morocco. Heavy and sumptuous, the gown worn at
home consisted of baggy trousers of thin texture drawn in tightly at the
ankles, supplemented by a long sleeved chemisette of white muslin trimmed
with a peculiar kind of lace. This was met at the bust by the dress
proper, a trailing robe of rich material encircled by an embroidered
belt fastened by a jewelled clasp and drawn down very low in front. The
sleeveless velvet mantle was edged with velvet and fell to the ground,
and on the head was a high turban of embroidered muslin surrounded by a
gold fillet set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. The hair was cut in
a straight fringe across the forehead, and arranged in bands over the
ears.

Turkish women have always displayed a great fondness for jewellery, and
modern etiquette renders a diamond tiara incumbent upon the bride of any
social standing whatsoever.

Much of the fascination of the desert, its mystery and its appeal to
the imagination, is embodied in the Arab. The eye travels over the tall
figure, straight as a palm tree, draped in the long folds of the burnous,
with the same baffled sense of inquiry, the same subdued excitement
and expectation with which it looks across the arid sand stretching out
to the horizon and beyond. What restless fever consumes this statuesque
figure, impelling him ever to be on the move? Where does his quest lead
amid the dunes and burning sand, and what is the power that keeps him
eternally a wanderer in that silent land? Vaguely one realises the subtle
affinity between the two--the nameless spell which the desert casts over
her sons.

The dress of the Arab, picturesque though it is, would seem to have
been expressly designed with a view to affording the utmost possible
protection to the head. The cachi, a little felt cap, red, brown, or
white, and surmounted by a silk tassel in a contrasting shade, is common
to all. Two, and frequently three, are worn, one above the other, the
topmost being invariably red. Concealing the cachi is the haïk, an ample
white drapery drawn low on the forehead and falling curtain-wise about
the face. It is held in place by one or more tightly-fitting rings
composed of camel's or goat's hair, pressed firmly down on the head, and
is of such liberal dimensions as to envelop the entire figure above a
shirt contrived from fine white wool. Over all is flung the burnous, a
voluminous mantle of plain or striped material which can be arranged in a
variety of ways. Sometimes it is tied at the throat with strings tipped
with tassels, and at others it is wrapped about the body in classic folds
with one end flung over the left shoulder. Sandals are worn on the bare
feet, and the beard is long and pointed.

The costume of the chief of a warrior tribe differs in detail, although
retaining the characteristic features. The sandals are supplemented by
high leather side-pieces, open up the front and with the tops decorated
with tassels. The short, tightly-fitting coat is trimmed with embroidery
and more tassels, and reveals a wide expanse of white vest and a folded
belt of brilliantly-hued silk. The baggy trousers terminate at the
knees, where they are met by striped stockings. The hips are encircled
by a shawl, which is knotted at the left side; and on the head is the
inevitable haïk, surmounted by a large saucer-brimmed hat composed of
feathers and conspicuous for a dome-shaped crown. The burnous fastens
with tassels at the throat, and is flung back from the shoulders, tassels
reappearing at rare intervals round the hem.

In towns Arab women are always more or less veiled, while those leading
the free life of the desert dispense with what they deem superfluous
drapery and choose for ordinary occasions attire of the scantiest
description, merely consisting of a simple robe to the ankles, sleeveless
and confined by a narrow girdle. On days of grand ceremonial this is
exchanged for a long, flowing gown, the hem and elbow-sleeves edged with
fringe, and draped with big cotton handkerchiefs in vivid plaid designs.
One of these is drawn closely round the head, and the ends are flung back
to float behind in picturesque disarray; a second is pinned at the right
hip and again on the left shoulder; from the neck hang bead chains, and
every available item of enamelled jewellery is displayed on different
parts of the body. The pendent silver ear-rings are of imposing size and
weight, and wide bracelets cover the arms, while, in the case of a woman
fortunate enough to be the mother of a son, a distinguishing ornament
dangles in the centre of the forehead, whence the hair is drawn back and
arranged in a coil on the nape of the neck. This jewel she forfeits upon
the birth of a daughter, and she recovers it only if she be blessed by
another son.



CHAPTER XV

OF FANCY DRESS


The fancy-dress ball of private enterprise has nowadays comparatively
little patronage. The hostess is willing, but the guest is weak, and
while idleness is at the root of most social pleasure, the effort
required to assume the virtue or vice of some other personality is
placed without the pale of popularity. There have been, of course, some
historical exceptions, such as the famous balls given by the Duchess
of Devonshire and the Countess of Warwick, but similar triumphs seem
scarcely possible except in these exalted circles, when the attendance is
great because not to be present is to argue yourself unasked.

There are public fancy-dress balls in plenty, and the Ice Carnival has
just lived its little day--or night, and now and again some daring
creature, unversed in the ways of her world, issues invitations with the
words "Fancy Dress" printed on the corner of the card, which declares her
determination to be "At Home" at some club or another. But disappointment
generally waits upon the result: the numbers who accept are few, and of
these many will consider themselves exempt from wearing the motley, and
will beg the question in the Windsor uniform of red facings to the dress
coat. Most men candidly confess to feeling themselves fools arrayed in
any but the most conventional costume, and it is only the vanity of a
few that will yield to the attractions of being a velvet-clad Cavalier,
a slashed Romeo, or a bedizened Beaucaire. A woman, on the other hand,
delights in being somebody else, and scarcely a country house party comes
to its close in winter time without some attempt at dressing up, the
"head-dress" dinner being quite an established function, whence, without
doubt, much amusement may be evolved and much ingenuity result. The
success of the head-dress in influencing the entire appearance gives, of
course, proof to my favourite dogma, that the crowning point is the point
of importance in costume.

Time and opportunity in the past have exhausted the decorative delights
of simulating some flower, but although such tactics are distinctly
common-place, yet few frocks look prettier than these when well planned.
One of the most successful I can recall represented a fuchsia, and it
had a purple velvet skirt cut in pointed tabs, and bore an over-skirt
similarly treated of crimson silk; the tight-fitting short bodice was
of the palest green, cream-coloured stockings in pale green satin shoes
appeared beneath these, while the hat was an entire fuchsia, violet,
purple, green, and cream being all disposed in their proper places.
This was easy enough to make, and facility must be an advantage, even
as economy, in the planning of a dress for the carnival, since, after
all, it is scarcely likely to make its appearance on more than one
occasion. An original idea for which we can give thanks to the Fates is
the Gooseberry-fool's dress, which may be compassed with petticoats of
pale-green silk fringed with gooseberries of padded silk, and on the head
a fool's cap with pendent gooseberries as bells.

As a dress easy of achievement I can quote that one sketched here in
colour, the Seville Orange. The dress and bodice of orange-coloured silk
bear an application of padded oranges and leaves on the skirt, beneath a
chenille fringe of black with heavy netting, velvet streamers and oranges
are used at discretion to adorn the hair, and the petticoats beneath the
yellow skirt are of green, the stockings and shoes being of the same tone.

At a fancy-dress ball the costume which is merely original and not pretty
should be condemned except when the novelty prize is the desideratum
of the occasion. There have been some remarkable costumes designed,
which have proclaimed every scientific invention, and others which have
illustrated topical scenes and current events, involving much special
preparation and printing, and invariably presenting some difficulty when
the great question of head-dress had to be answered becomingly. It is
not easy to convey a Marconi system as a hat, nor can it be considered a
simple task to invest a coiffure elegantly with the best principles of an
air-ship, even though the ladies of long ago saw fit to crown themselves
with the last cry in Armadas. It is on record that the audacious actor,
Samuel Foote, distinguished himself by appearing at a masquerade in an
abnormally exaggerated caricature of this fashion--a policy which led
more directly to the discomfiture of Samuel Foote than to any serious
contempt for the fashions he held up to ridicule.

[Illustration: THE SEVILLE ORANGE.]

[Illustration: A BOTTICELLI DANCING-DRESS.]

An easy and popular manner of solving the problem of what to wear is
to reproduce the dress which is being worn by the heroine of some very
favoured play. Véronique, in her pale-green silk and white muslin
draperies, was a recent opportunity much adopted, and for years no
fancy-dress ball was complete without at least three Kate Hardcastles,
while Juliets were to be found in every doorway, and a dancing Faust
would lack no choice of Margarets.

The Calico ball proclaims itself pre-eminently thrifty in its intention,
and remarkably pretty effects may be obtained with cotton fabrics, if
sufficient intelligence be used in the design of the dresses. To achieve
the effect of an "old print," white crêpe cotton and pale blue sateen,
with a straw bonnet banded with the blue and a pink rose beneath, may
be recommended as useful ingredients. The "Marcus Stone" girl, as we
familiarly call a maiden clad in white muslin with a frilled fichu, is
another heroine whose frock lends itself readily to cheap material,
and we have always at our disposal the ever-popular red, white, and
blue flag, yet bunting is not the most comfortable of fabrics for the
enthusiastic dancer. The embodiment of the Seasons, although considerably
hackneyed, may safely be accomplished with cottons and muslins and
swansdown, leaves, and flowers; and a very effective dress is the
Rainbow, in which rainbow crêpe of Japanese manufacture is an ideal
assistant.

Chiffon is indispensable to the success of many a frock. In a dress
which shall represent Smoke, for instance, the chiffon ought to be of a
dark-grey tone, and yards and yards should be wound about the figure
and the head, the sleeves being wing-shaped, the stockings and shoes to
match. "Flames" may also be embodied with orange-red and yellow chiffon,
draped round with liberality, it being understood in both these cases
that a thin, tightly-fitting petticoat and under-bodice be supplied of
pongee to match the chiffon.

[Illustration: AN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY PIERROT.]

A good idea for a fancy-dress ball, if not one based perhaps upon the
truest spirit of poetry, is "Greens"; chiffon or silk of many shades of
green, with a head-dress in the shape of a cabbage. Very successful,
though not inexpensive, is the Oyster dress, composed of a very thin
white satin lined with pink satin, adorned at discretion with fringes of
pearls, while a pink chiffon chemisette is gauged to admiration upon the
draped white satin bodice, and the coiffure of the wearer is surmounted
by a coronet of oyster shells set on a bandeau of pale-pink chiffon, with
a floating veil of a deeper pink.

The White Queen from _Alice in Wonderland_ can be cheaply and
sufficiently represented by a frock of white calico, with the hooped
skirt set in a succession of thickly padded rolls, the hair net of
white chenille, surmounted by a crown of white cardboard painted with
the title. Ingenious, but perhaps not very becoming, is a dress of
white linen, with a big clock painted in the middle of the skirt, the
hands pointing to, say, 5 A.M., with the obvious purpose of suggesting
that the wearer is "Better late than never." A character which never
fails to attract at the gay carnival is Mephistopheles, the feminine
or masculine variety being alike adopted with avidity, in bright red,
feather in the cap, and a little shoulder-cape, and spangles complete.
A good costume for a man is the Druid, when he can arrange voluminous
white draperies as he will, and take unto himself the liberty of the
mistletoe wreath. A popular habit prevails of embodying the names of
certain illustrated journals, and representing the titles of some books.
Some daring innovator suggests labelling himself as a Doctor, and vows he
represents the "Dark Lantern," and the principle opens up a large field
for selection. Why should not an ordinary evening-dress-coated gentleman
be labelled "The Sphinx's Lawyer," and "The Coming Race" be expressed
by the Oxford and Cambridge crews limned on satin; and "The Imaginative
Man" might have a pair of wings fixed to the shoulders of his ordinary
broadcloth, a sign that he imagines himself an angel. The ground is
fruitful of suggestion.

"Fancy me in fancy dress," sings some gay lady in some gay play, and the
notion is full of fascination, which may best be realised, not by the
borrowing of clothes, but by making them, planning them, inventing them,
and, above all, wearing them with grace. We have passed the days and
nights when we yearned to represent some tragic figure--when to appear as
Marie Antoinette or Mary Queen of Scots seemed the pinnacle of delight.
Gone too are the times when the representation of the lamp-shade would
exhaust the inventive power of the many, and fled are our desires to
coquette as a Columbine or flit as a fairy in white tulle.

In an assembly where none are masked, a masked girl may attract
conspicuous attention, a monk who never draws cowl from his face may have
a following of the curious; she who would dress as Money, in gold or
yellow satin, jingling with golden coins, may be assured that she will
be run after, and she who represents Cleopatra, or some other Oriental
queen, blazing with jewels, will not be allowed to sit in a corner.

An audacious selection is the costume of the Wallflower in gold and
brown, which looks its best when made in chiffon and velvet.

As a rule, it must be admitted that the finest fancy dress looks the
best, and however charming may be the effects arrived at with muslin,
cotton, crêpe, and calico, she who stands out in the vast crowd will
be she who has the most magnificent clothes. The glories of brocade
and satin and velvet will always hold supreme sway, allied to some
distinctively grand head-dress elevated from the head on a frame and
banded with jewels, with a long diaphanous veil flowing into a sumptuous
length of train. The splendidly glorious is only rivalled by the darkly
mysterious, and the maiden of the Yashmak, if only she has the liquid
eye that speaks the flirtatious soul, and the veiled Sorceress, if her
wit be sufficient to carry the situation, may be quite irresistible: for
always the unknown allures.

[Illustration: A SOUTH SEA ISLANDER.]

[Illustration: THE KNAVE OF DIAMONDS.]

An idea which, to say the least of it, savours nothing of conceit is
to select the costume of a South Sea Islander, and it is one most easily
contrived with a sateen foundation oversewn with feathers, and surmounted
by a head-dress of erect plumes disposed in wild confusion above locks
apparently uninfluenced by the persuasive brush or comb. You can see the
result pictured, and note the contrast of the sleek knave of diamonds,
whose dress should be expressed in red and blue and white and yellow,
with black silk stockings.

In deciding upon a costume for a fancy-dress ball, the first thought
of the reveller should be to secure the becoming and the suitable, and
to be successful the choice should be mainly influenced by his or her
personality. I quite realise the problem to be a difficult one, since
happily we have not the gift given to us to see ourselves as others see
us, else should we never meet a podgy Mephistopheles bulging out of his
clothes, nor an attenuated Juno, nor a dusky Desdemona, nor a buxom Puck.

Most artistic and felicitous results may be obtained from copying
costumes in old pictures; and visits to the National Gallery, and an
afternoon spent at the Wallace Collection, will prove themselves at once
a profit and a pleasure, and an easy guide towards the selection of the
appropriate dress. It is advisable on such occasions to be accompanied by
the kind friend who, without fear to risk a reproach, will counsel with
all wisdom, and temper your ambitions to your personality.

An admirable item in the programme of the fancy-dress ball is the
quadrille, the lancers, or the cotillon, which shall be danced by
people clad in costumes of the same period, such harmony being a
special pleasure to the beholder, who may nevertheless also glean some
entertainment from the spectacle of the nineteenth-century Columbine
hobnobbing with the fourteenth-century monk; and may no doubt get some
satisfaction from the sight of Cleopatra in the arms of the Devil.

But I will linger no longer lightly in the realms of fancy dress, but
penetrate the dark depths of Dominoes and Masks, leaving the many
illustrations in these pages culled from the centuries to speak the last
word of selection with most fluent and expressive tongue.



CHAPTER XVI

OF DOMINOES AND MASKS


Italian in conception, the domino is of ecclesiastical origin, and as
such has retained its monkish aspect throughout the many changes rung
by fashion. In its primitive form it consisted of a long, loose robe of
black material with a cowl attachment which completely covered the head.
During the middle ages, and, in fact, as late as the sixteenth century,
it constituted the popular travelling costume of those engaged upon
secret missions. Disguised in the habit common to the countless hordes of
monks and other pious mendicants who infested the country, it was an easy
matter to go, unnoticed, from end to end of Europe, the garb protecting
its wearer and ensuring him immunity from criticism or inquiry.

Its serviceable shape and virtue of concealment led to the universal
adoption of the domino, until it actually became as much an institution
as the toga of ancient Rome. Clad in its all-enveloping folds, the hood
drawn well forward and the face masked, the domino formed an ideal dress
for intrigue, love adventures, conspiracy, ball, rout, procession, and
evening wear in general over a gala costume. It owed its first entry
into _le monde où l'on s'amuse_ to those Venetian orgies and wild
midnight revels encouraged by the Council of Ten as a means whereby the
attention and energies of the youth of the capital of the Adriatic might
be diverted from politics.

When the gay world made the domino its own, fashion decreed that it
should retain its original shape, and this it has continued to do down to
the present. The same conservatism did not extend to colour. As a matter
of fact it has, at one time and another, appeared in all shades, and in
every appropriate variety of texture, lined or unlined; in two or more
tones, self-coloured, trimmed, or plain, sumptuous or severe, according
to the tastes and inclination of the wearer. A man's domino, as typical
of to-day as of five hundred years ago, consists of a long, ample robe of
scarlet cashmere gathered into a plain yoke piped with satin. Three small
cashmere buttons fasten it snugly from the throat downwards, and satin
ribbon ties it across the chest. The peaked hood is lined with satin and
weighted with a heavy silk tassel, and over the shoulders falls a short,
pleated cape. Of the "angel" order, the wide, pointed sleeves are turned
back to allow a narrow glimpse of satin, the fold held in place by a cord
loop and a diminutive gold button sewn to the under arm seam immediately
above the wrist. That the religious origin of the domino was never lost
sight of is illustrated by the anecdote of the dissipated young reveller
who, leaving a masked ball in the grey dawn, was met by an indignant
father, who proceeded to load him with reproaches on the subject of his
dissolute mode of life. After listening for some time in filial silence,
the son made the witty answer:

    Beati qui moriuntur in Domino.

From Italy the fashion of wearing dominoes spread to France, and thence
to England. In Paris the vogue reached its height under Louis XIII. and
Louis XIV. During the reigns of both monarchs, and more especially the
latter, masquerades and masked balls were the favourite amusements of the
Court. Many entertainments were given at which dominoes were compulsory
for men, the King alone being exempt from this rule. Louis XIV. generally
elected to appear in a white domino of transparent muslin which merely
veiled, without in any way concealing, the gala dress beneath. Dominoes
at this period were richly trimmed, and contrived from costly materials.

Under the Regency masked balls were instituted at the Opera. At these
public functions, safeguarded by the practically impenetrable disguise of
a domino, all classes of society mixed indiscriminately. If tales of the
time are to be believed, many a gallant has shadowed a domino the entire
evening, only to make the humiliating discovery that the coquettish
countess of his dreams was a tripe-seller from the market.

With the fall of the French monarchy the domino degenerated into an
abuse, and was finally abolished, excepting for such occasions as
carnivals and fancy-dress balls.

The dominoes worn by women differ from those worn by men in that they
invariably manage to strike a distinguishing feminine note. The textures
employed are lighter, being usually soft satin, silk, or mousseline de
soie. The hood, instead of partaking of the severity of a cowl, is round
in shape and, for most festive occasions, is trimmed with fluffy frills
of silk, chiffon, and lace, further elaboration consisting of flowers.
A characteristic example is of forget-me-not-hued bengaline lined with
pale pink. The yoke sparkles with silver sequins and the round hood and
shallow cape display frills powdered with glittering paillettes, and
reveal inner frills of frayed pink silk and cobwebby lace the tint of old
ivory, a bunch of shaded roses being fastened near the left temple and
another at the throat. At the foot is a flounce which, when the wearer
walks, shows occasional glimpses of pink silk and cream lace, and the
wide sleeves bear sequin-embroidered cuffs and lace ruffles. A quaint
domino is of gauze of an opaque whiteness, strewn with black and gold
spots of varying sizes, the hood gathered up in the middle beneath a big
white poppy, the petals tipped with gold and the centre of black silk.

For obvious reasons, many dominoes, both for men and women, were made
reversible. Occasionally, in addition to the hood, a towering erection
was worn on the head, causing the wearer to appear of supernatural
height, and the more mysterious. And I pause here to observe with
emphasis that at a masked ball a domino is invested with special interest
when surmounted by a fantastic headgear, and that such an incongruous
alliance as that of a white-powdered and curled wig and the black silk
domino shaped as a gaberdine, with a full hood and lace-frilled silk
mask, creates an effect beneath which an identity may be most easily
concealed. Far more desirable, however, in the interests of the
beautiful, is it to select the domino and head-dress in sympathy; and
I may quote as a successful blend a long cloak of jet-spangled net,
with jet-spangled hood falling round the shoulders, and a high-pointed
head-dress of the fourteenth century, with a pendent jet veil and a jet
mask to cover the face, the chin being held by a few folds of net to
match the veil. Dominoes made of net oversewn with petals of flowers, the
hoods adorned to match and well drawn over the hair, and the masks of
lace in butterfly shape, may also be quoted as decorative; and so too may
the domino of accordion-pleated silk, but custom has somewhat staled the
charms of this, and I would vote rather for the more sumptuous brocade,
and urge the importance of liberality in its folds.

The mask has, at all times, been the essential complement of the domino.
In its ordinary form it consists of a stiff shape arranged to fit the
face as far as the upper lip. Moulded to the nose, it is provided with
slits for the eyes and nostrils, and fastened by means of a button and
a narrow elastic band. Now and then it is edged with a frill of lace
which conceals the chin and further enhances the disguise. Black satin
and velvet are most frequently employed to cover this kind of mask, the
latter, by the way, being far more becoming; but the black lace mask
is an innovation of modern times, sometimes failing in its purpose of
disguise, and the chiffon spangled mask may be accredited with like
disadvantage. Coloured masks, or _loups_, as they are termed in French,
are also worn, but have little to commend them, being grotesque and ugly.

Authorities differ concerning the origin of masks. The most generally
accepted theory is that they were first employed at the festivals of
Bacchus, and recent discoveries have proved them to have been in use
in ancient Egypt, numerous specimens having been found at the heads of
mummy-cases. These early examples are composed of a substance closely
resembling papier-maché, and painted in imitation of life.

It was in Greece, however, that the mask reached its apotheosis. There it
formed an indispensable factor in classic drama. Its introduction on the
stage is attributed to Thespis, who is held to have substituted masks for
cosmetics.

There is no confusing the mask peculiar to the Greek theatre with that of
any other country or period. The industry rose to the dignity of an art,
as the beauty-loving Hellenes would tolerate nothing ugly or ill-made on
their actors.

The dramatic masks consisted of an entire head, with hair, beard,
and ornaments arranged in exact accordance with the character to
be portrayed. All the features were strongly accentuated, vividly
coloured, and of supernatural size. The eyes were deeply sunken, the
nose exaggerated, and the mouth open. Inside the parted lips was a metal
construction designed to make the voice carry a considerable distance--a
necessary measure, as all performances took place in colossal open-air
buildings. The moment an actor appeared upon the scene a glance at his
mask sufficed to determine the rôle he was about to play; and, whether
masculine or feminine, the details were equally exact.

How comprehensive the range of selection was may be gathered from the
fact that masks were broadly divided into three great classes, namely,
Tragical, Comical, Satirical, each of which was in turn subdivided as
follows:--

1. Eight masks of old men, typifying differences of age, rank, humour,
etc.

2. A series of eleven masks of young men.

3. Seven varieties of masks of slaves.

4. Eighteen masks of women.

In addition to the above, the masks depicting gods and heroes were placed
in a separate category. These never varied, and each displayed the
attributes of the deity portrayed. Thus Actæon appeared with the antlers
of a deer, Argus with a hundred eyes, Diana with a crescent; and so on.

The earliest masks were fashioned from wood fibre, which in due time gave
place to leather, and finally to wax.

In Rome the art of mask-making was further elaborated. Trades and
professions were distinctively personated. Double-faced masks were
introduced, one side representing laughter and the other tears, so that
by turning his right or left profile to the audience, the actor could
change his expression at will.

Among the Romans the use of the mask was not restricted to the theatre.
It was worn in processions, and at certain festivals, notably those
dedicated to Pan, where masks of vine leaves were customary. A strange
funeral rite consisted of a performance given by a comedian wearing a
mask made in the likeness of the defunct. This mummer's mission was to
follow the coffin, acting and reciting the salient features of the dead
man's career, impartially setting forth both the good and the bad.

In the reign of Augustus, patrician ladies were in the habit, when
indoors, of wearing masks delicately perfumed and treated with cosmetics.
This fashion was revived by Henry III. of France and his courtiers for
the preservation of the complexion.

The fall of the Roman Empire marked the disappearance of the mask from
the stage. From then onward it appeared only in pantomime, where the mask
of Punchinello is familiar to this day. The nutcracker countenance, with
its highly-coloured cheeks and tinkling bells, is a survival of extreme
antiquity. I pause to wonder who the old Greek may have been whom the
maker of masks thus immortalised? There is a world of cynicism, pathos,
and philosophy in his face. I feel that he sorrowed, and that it was not
because he knew too little, but because he knew too much.

The practice of wearing masks, by private individuals in everyday life,
started, as did the fashion for dominoes, in Venice. There the black
satin and velvet masks, still worn at fancy-dress balls and during
Carnival time, first obtained, to be enthusiastically adopted in France
and England a little later on. In the latter country, however, the use
of the mask never degenerated into an abuse as in France, although masks
became so fashionable in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, that
society ladies deemed them an essential accessory to the toilette. They
were not always worn: sometimes they were carried in the hand and held up
to the face only when necessary. The exclusive elected to appear masked
at the theatre and other public places.

But the universal wearing of masks became such a public menace and
incentive to crime that in 1535 an edict was issued in France
prohibiting the fashion excepting during Carnival time. Under Henry IV.
the privilege was restricted to the nobility, and it was made a capital
crime for any commoner to don a mask.

With Louis XIII. the mask fell into temporary abeyance, only to be
revived with renewed vigour under his successor. The first occasion
upon which Louis XIV. appeared in a mask was at the Palais Cardinal in
January 1656. From that date until January 1668 he was an enthusiastic
supporter of the vogue. The fashion, prevalent in 1650, of ladening masks
with superfluous trimming was of but short duration. While the craze
lasted a ruching of lace adorned the top, a lace frill the bottom, and
the eyes were encrusted with various decorations to such an extent that
ladies, descending from their carriages, were obliged to be led, it being
impossible for them to see. The preposterous vogue inspired Scarron's
ditty:

    Dirai-je comment ces fantasques
      Qui portent dentelles à leurs masques
    En chamarrent les trous des yeux
      Croyant que leur masque en est mieux.

Like its associate the domino, the mask gradually faded away with the
passing of the eighteenth century. In Italy it enjoyed the longest
and most undisputed sway. There it was worn by all members of the
community, including the clergy. The Council of Ten, the Inquisitors,
and the members of the Holy Office generally, both in Italy and Spain,
were closely masked when employed upon the exercise of their terrible
functions.

Certain unwritten but universal and indisputable laws rule the wearing
of masks. Whether worn privately or in public, its disguise has at all
times and in all countries been respected as inviolably sacred. To the
masked the greatest extravagance of language and gesture is permitted.
He is allowed to indulge in acrid personalities and proclaim scathing
truths which, even if addressed to the monarch himself, go unrebuked. To
strike a mask is a serious offence, while in no class of society, however
degraded, would any one dare to unmask a woman. Yet another prerogative
entitles the masked to invite any woman present, whether masked or not,
to dance with him, etiquette decreeing that the queen of the land may not
claim exemption from this rule. Dear to romance is the masked highwayman,
who flourished until the advent of railways robbed him of his occupation;
and a grim figure is ever the masked headsman.

Of numerous romances, none has equalled in fascination that of the
impenetrable mystery of le Masque de Fer. Held by many to have been
brother to Louis XIV., this strange prisoner of State guarded his
incognito to the end. He was never seen without a pliable steel
mask provided with a movable mouthpiece to allow of his eating with
comparative ease. Other peculiarities of his were his fondness for
exquisitely fine linen and his habit of invariably dressing in brown.

No mode ever invented has appealed so strongly to the imagination, or
given rise to such tragedies and comedies, as that of the mask, and no
other has led its followers to such flights of folly. Nevertheless, I
find myself sighing for the days when it invested the neutral-tinted
world with the glamour of romance, twin sister of mystery, which was the
prevailing atmosphere when fashion decreed that men and women should
assume a common disguise and flit, shadow-like, among other nameless
shadows through the complicated mazes of their social highways and
byways.



CHAPTER XVII

OF MATERIALS, THE CORSET, AND THE CRINOLINE


The material question seems to have been answered in every country save
England, where the initiative in manufacture is conspicuous by its
absence, though we have through the centuries so successfully begged,
borrowed, stolen, or acquired an expert knowledge of the various textile
arts, that every manufactured fabric is now grist which may come from our
mill.

The art of cloth-making the early Britons learned from the Romans, but
their ambition towards this industry died after the departure of their
instructors, not actively asserting itself again until, at the suggestion
of Philippa of Hainault, some Flemish weavers established themselves at
Norwich--a policy evidently successful enough to induce Edward III. in
the fourteenth century to invite a Flemish weaver to teach the art to
"such of our people as shall be inclined to learn it."

The trade was started at Kendal, spreading to York and thence to many
different towns, where there grew up in due course the manufacture of
broadcloth, baizes, kerseys, and serges, the North of England then, as to
this day, holding the best interests of the cloth trades firmly in the
hollow of its hand. It is interesting to note that an Act was passed
forbidding all save the King and Queen and her children to wear any cloth
but that made in England, for here we may trace surely the work of the
legitimate ancestor of our passionate protectionist, Joseph Chamberlain.

But, after all, woollen cloth is dull stuff, and the first on the list
of fabrics aiming at the beautiful is cloth of gold, which made its bid
for fame in the days of Richard II., whose patronage of the luxury was,
however, mild in comparison with that of that past master in the art of
prodigality, Henry VIII., who is said to have had as many as twenty-five
suits of cloth of gold, securing it at a price of 40s. per yard, which
does not seem a very extravagant sum to-day.

A textile used in England during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
is imperial, wrought with gold, and credited with being woven at the
workshops kept by the Byzantine Emperors; and gold also gave its
assistance to the making of a well-known stuff in the Middle Ages
christened baudekin, which later came to be a term signifying any rich
silk. A variety of the cloth of gold was plunket cloth of gold--plunket,
however, being more properly described as a coarse woollen cloth; yet it
is authentic that Richard III. had a gown lined with this, and in revels
held by Henry VIII. at Greenwich it was registered that there were six
ladies in "crimosin plunket" embroidered with gold and pearls, so that
fashion seems to have idealised the homely plunket, which in its original
state would have been more suitably classed with home-spuns, burnet,
russet, and frieze. In the fourteenth century taffeta was introduced
into England, and taffy was the name of a watered edition of this, which
we owe to the refugees, who crowded here in their numbers, and made us
familiar with brocade amongst other novelties. Satin was known in England
as early as the thirteenth century, having been imported into Europe from
China, but not achieving much popularity owing to its exorbitant price,
though later Henry VIII. had a great predilection for it in red. Amongst
stuffs associated immortally with history and romance are sackcloth and
samite, and the latter, besides bearing its fame down from biblical days,
has been credited with possessing every known virtue that the textile is
heir to; it was originally, no doubt, a heavy silk material woven with
a thread of six fibres, and carrying thick upon its surface most glossy
honours. When Sir Launcelot came to King Arthur, the poet says:

    Lancelot and the queene were clede,
    In robes of a rich weede,
    Of samit white, with silver shredde.

And it is in white we invariably picture it, yet more constantly in olden
days it was made in red. Suffering much change in its orthography, it was
originally written "samits," later "samit," and finally invested with the
final "e," and yet while every record grants it a silken surface, some
German scholar, owing to the circumstance that to this day their word
"samt" expresses velvet, is quite convinced that the samit of old was of
velvet substance.

To China was accorded the privilege of persuading us permanently of
the charms of brocade and velvet, and the descriptions of the mediæval
velvets suggest that this could have been no difficult task, for they
include diapered velvets, figured velvets, changeable velvets, velvets
figured with white, and velvets worked upon gold, while the Genoese and
the French rivalled each other in the best manufacture of these.

The making of linen has been traced back to the early Egyptians, and the
art was brought to England by the Romans, but a very fine linen dedicated
to altar cloths and shirts in the middle ages was first manufactured at
Rennes in Brittany. The English linen trade made no great stride until
the reign of Charles I., and lawn and cambric were first greatly used in
England in the sixteenth century.

Fur as a trimming appears to have had no popular existence previous to
the thirteenth century, but after the reign of Henry III. it bears its
part bravely in romance and chronicles, ermine being pre-eminent together
with a fur known as lettice, which closely resembles it; there were
lettice caps worn by ladies in the reign of Elizabeth, who indeed forbade
their wear to any but "a gentlewoman born, having arms," and sable was
permitted only to the nobility and to certain officers of the Royal
household in the Middle Ages.

Lace has paid for its success in a disputed birthplace, for both Flanders
and Italy claim its first manufacture, the experts declaring in favour of
the latter, and asserting that Italy bore the art to Spain and passed it
on to Flanders. In any case Venice must be granted the first prize for
the beauty of its lace, which in early days was enriched with gold and
silver. Caen is accorded the honour of having first introduced blonde
lace, while France and Switzerland and Belgium have all contributed
their share towards the perfecting of "the most fascinating of all
fabrics," and different events of history have brought no small influence
to bear on the popularity of different laces in different periods, the
foreign-made bone-lace obtaining the distinction of being banished from
England by royal order. In the reigns of the Stuarts, lace adorned
alike feminine and masculine attire, and the collar of the luckless
King Charles I. in his many pictures by Vandyke has stamped the fact
indelibly on our minds. The Commonwealth greatly affected the manufacture
of lace in England, though some of the most rigid Puritans continued to
wear Flanders lace, and the dead body of the Protector was "robed in
purple velvet, ermine, and richest Flanders lace"--not so bad for the
simple cerements of the greatest socialist who ever lived! The passion
for wearing lace reached its height in England in the reign of William
and Mary, when lace was indispensable to the most exalted wearers of
the commodes, and its influence was essential on the full cravats and
ruffles. In the reigns of George I. and George II., Brussels lace grew
especially popular; but English lace reached a pitch of perfection at
this period, Devonshire being especially famous for the industry. In
its delicate meshes lace has held captive to its charms many earnest
students who have set down its biography in various volumes, and to skim
these hurriedly is to do them wrong; so in passing I would recommend
their pages to the leisured, while chronicling that we have known lace
needle-run or pillow-made for nearly four centuries, and that it was
preceded by the "cut out," the _appliqué_, and an embroidery worked in
stiffly conventional design on net with cords of thread.

The most faithful and punctilious archæologists confess that the origin
of the corset must be written down to the credit or discredit of man, for
they find the birth of its existence may be dated in the far antiquity,
when the savage made his hunting belt of leather stiffened with bone or
hard stick held with a thong of hide, and as decorative as useful, since
it was adorned with shells and quills and served to hold the knife or
quiver.

Ovid recommends the fair ones of his day to wear those ingenious
constructions which give lines to the bust and all it lacks, while Homer
describes Juno as wearing a ceinture ornamented with a thousand fringes,
and we are, of course, convinced of the fact that she borrowed from Venus
a famous cestus wherein were all the pains and penalties of love.

The ancient Greeks and Romans sternly opposed the corset, and yet they
yielded to the necessity for bands and belts to support the bust, this
band being usually made of embroidered leather. There is indisputable
proof that in the earliest days of civilisation there was in use a
variety of contrivances for the reduction of the feminine figure, and
in a most interesting chronicle I read that "Amongst the works of art
discovered amongst the ruins of one of the mysterious forest cities in
South America is a bas-relief representing a female figure which, in
addition to a profusion of massive ornaments, wears a complicated and
elaborate waist bandage, which by a system of circular and transverse
folding and looping confines the waist just below the ribs to the hips."
What could be more conclusive? Here is obviously the ancestress of the
straight-fronted _Spécialité_ corset.

The origin of the word "stays" comes from stay, to support; the term
"corset" may have been developed from "corps": the term "corse," however,
must not be confounded with it, and Planché considers this should apply
merely to the bodice of a gown. The earliest method of making the stay
was with pieces of cane, and this may be compared favourably with a
variety obtaining as lately as in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. This
was made of steel with broad pieces of steel shaped to the hips, and
clamped or hinged under each arm, being straightly stiff at the top of
the front and the back, where it reached up to the shoulder-blades.
These frames, however, were not primarily used to reduce the waist, for
they were worn over a corset, so that the dress might yield not to the
weakness of a single fold, and that the stomacher might present a front
of unruffled smoothness. A development of this stay showed it curved at
the top, front, and back, somewhat in the outline of those we wear now,
but clamped together down the back, and made of the stiffest of iron, and
decorated with countless meaningless-looking little holes and apertures.
This was the style adopted by Catherine of Medici, which permitted her
the questionable joy of reducing her waist to thirteen inches.

Christine of France, we are told by Jacob the bibliophilist, wore a
"justaucorps" embroidered in gold and studded with precious stones; this
was a remarkable shape, not defining the waist at all, and finished off
with an indented basque.

The first mention of what may rightly be termed the corset is at the
end of the fourteenth century, when the dresses cut low in the front
introduced by Isabella of Bavaria were responsible for the innovation,
and made popular the wearing of the new garment, which was made in all
kinds of materials laced either at the front or at the back.

At the end of the fifteenth century the basquine was adopted, a corset
of stout linen or cotton with a busk of wood or metal at the front.
Rabelais says, "The ladies at the Court of Francis I. wore basquines,
and a silk camlet over their chemises," and it is needless to say that
they incurred the displeasure of the preachers of the day; indeed Charles
IX. and Henry III. issued several stringent laws with regard to the
corset, being convinced that it was highly injurious to the health of its
wearers, and the corps piqué which was worn in this reign was neither
more nor less than an instrument of torture, compressing the body into
a hard unyielding mould, the splinters of wood often tearing the skin.
Until the end of the sixteenth century the tailor had the monopoly of
corset-making, and his methods seem to have been anything but tender. It
was in the seventeenth century that Ben Jonson pathetically complained

    The whalebone man,
    Who quilts the bodies I have leave to span.

In the reign of Louis XV. corsets were cut away on the hips and laced
at the back, the long busks of wood or steel being only in the front;
whalebone was used to stiffen the corset, which was sometimes made in
two pieces and laced under the arms, and it was invariably supplied with
shoulder-straps, and began in those days to take unto itself such rich
materials as brocade and satin embroidered in gold chenille or silk.
The Directoire period produced a classic zone worn outside the dress, a
mode that soon gave place to the boneless corset, a fleeting fancy, for
all costume worn in the time of Louis XVI. owes its greatest charm to the
stays, the bodices being cut into long points and fitted tightly from
bust to waist. In some instances these bodices were sewn on to the figure
of the wearer after the stays had been laced to their extreme limit, and
many of Hogarth's figures prove the influence of the very stiff stay, the
figures being erect in an uncomfortable degree, for it is impossible to
imagine any human creature achieving such excellence of carriage without
considerable support from without, and some inconvenience from within.

In the later days of the eighteenth century greater comfort was granted,
when the short-waisted dress prevailed, together with the most laudable
ambition to copy the flowing elegance of the classic period. But the rule
of ease did not obtain long, and in the early times of the nineteenth
century the fashion of tight lacing was revived with enthusiasm, stays
being composed of bars of iron and steel with the tops stiffly steeled
so that the shoulder-straps might be dispensed with. Women suffered a
craze for compression, until the sixth decade of the nineteenth century,
when its influence was somewhat less essential by reason of the ubiquity
of the crinoline, which gave a semblance of the small waist to the least
slender.

The crinoline boasts as its great-great-grand-mother the farthingale or
vertingale, which was worn in France in the reign of Henry II., when
it is described as a cage put on beneath the petticoat to inflate it to
extravagant extent. It was, however, in the days of Elizabeth that the
farthingale reached its apogee, and according to Sir Roger de Coverley
made its wearers look as if they were "standing in a drum." Early in
Charles I.'s reign it went out of fashion, and when Catherine of Braganza
and her Portuguese ladies wore it on coming to London for her marriage
with Charles II., the anachronism attracted crowds of amused spectators.
The farthingale, in fact, had become obsolete, to reappear, however, in
the somewhat more convenient form of the hooped petticoat which swelled
in the reign of Anne. The contour of this was very slightly altered in
the reign of George I., the sides being more curved at the front and the
back, and the old shape of the circular farthingale was preferred with
the trainless gown. 1796 is the date given when hoops were discarded
except at Court, and the real crinoline made its appearance in 1854, the
previous year having witnessed the crinoline petticoat as an ordinary
adjunct to dress. The Empress Eugénie pronounced in favour of the
crinoline, and it became the mode, remaining so for many years, while
those few who refused to give it patronage gave hostages to fashion in
the horsehair-stiffened petticoat. The crinoline in those days was of the
skeleton kind and formed of hoops of steel held together by perpendicular
tapes, but it soon developed into a petticoat of calico with the steels
running through it at intervals from hem to waist. It is amongst the
fashions over which even the most pessimistic may hopefully write
"Ichabod."



CHAPTER XVIII

OF CEREMONIAL AND BRIDAL DRESS


The rules and regulations of ceremonial dress are as exacting, if not
as unalterable, as ever were those of the Medes and Persians. Kings and
Emperors punctiliously observe the etiquette which frames them, so that
every royal meeting or parting or festivity is attended in a carefully
prescribed garb, and the Master of the Royal Wardrobe must be deeply and
wisely versed in the history of the nations, and worthy to take a diploma
in the first division of the Court of Costume.

His Majesty the King has a lynx eye; no item escapes his notice; and
he gives as much attention to the details of everyday garb as to those
of clothes for merry or solemn occasion. Unlike the Queen, he rules
the fashions, and his wearing of a low hat or a high hat, in white or
in brown, a tweed suit or a frock-coat, white boots or black ones,
decides such question for the multitude when attending inaugurations,
race meetings, and other social functions, and the Royal decisions are
heralded forth in the press for public guidance.

At the recent coronation there was much discussion of the form and shape
of the robes for the ladies, and the King, anxious to conciliate the
strictest etiquette of yesterday with a nice sense of the fashionable
exigencies of to-day, concerned himself with the shape of the bodice
and trimming of the train. The results we may all remember, the
deeply crimson velvet, the borders of miniver, and the license of the
jewelled stomacher and the lace under-skirt; while the rank which is
but the guinea's stamp found expression in the epaulette, the coronet,
and the bars of fur. In truth, the coronation robe, even under its
improved conditions, cannot conscientiously be described as becoming
or comfortable. The only virtue that I can see in it is its ponderous
simplicity, the details of which I will give--for the benefit of a future
generation--in the pompous language of the official proclamation.

The edict issued informed those immediately concerned that "the robe
or mantle of the Peers be of crimson velvet edged with miniver, the
cape furred with miniver pure, and powdered with bars or rows of ermine
according to their degree, viz.--

    Barons.           Two rows.
    Viscounts.        Two rows and a half.
    Earls.            Three rows.
    Marquesses.       Three rows and a half.
    Dukes.            Four rows.

"The said mantles or robes to be worn over the full Court dress, uniforms,
or regimentals.

"Their coronets to be of silver-gilt, the caps of crimson velvet turned
up with ermine, with a gold tassel on the top, and no jewels or precious
stones are to be set or used in the coronets, or counterfeit pearls
instead of silver balls.

"The coronet of a Baron to have on the circle or rim six silver balls at
equal distances.

"The coronet of a Viscount to have on the circle sixteen silver balls.

"The coronet of an Earl to have on the circle eight silver balls raised
upon points, with gold strawberry leaves between the points.

"The coronet of a Marquis to have on the circle four gold strawberry
leaves and four silver leaves alternately, the latter a little raised or
pointed above the rim.

"The coronet of a Duke to have on the circle eight gold strawberry
leaves."

Similar instructions were forwarded to Peeresses, who were informed that
their coronets were to be identical in all respects with those worn by
their husbands. With regard to the remaining items of their toilet, the
following is an extract from the Earl Marshal's proclamation:--

"These are to give notice to all Peeresses who attend at the Coronation
of their Majesties that the robes or mantles appertaining to their
respective ranks are to be worn over full Court dress.

"That the robe or mantle of a Baroness be of crimson velvet, the cape
whereof to be furred with miniver pure and powdered with two bars or rows
of ermine (_i.e._ narrow pieces of black fur), the said mantle to be
edged round with miniver pure two inches in breadth, and the train to be
three feet on the ground.

"That the robe or mantle of a Viscountess be like that of a Baroness,
only the cape powdered with two rows and a half of ermine, the edging of
the mantle two inches as before, and the train a yard and a quarter.

"That the robe or mantle of a Countess be as before, only the cape
powdered with three rows of ermine, the edging three inches in breadth,
and the train a yard and a half.

"That the robe or mantle of a Marchioness be as before, only the cape
powdered with three rows and a half of ermine, the edging four inches in
breadth, the train a yard and three-quarters.

"That the robe or mantle of a Duchess be the same as before, only the
cape powdered with four rows of ermine, the edging four inches and a half
in breadth, the train four yards."

A note is added still further assisting the exact interpretation of the
Earl Marshal's instructions:

"It is understood that the above orders refer to all English, Scotch, and
Irish Peers (except Peers who are minors, and Irish Peers who have seats
in the House of Commons)."

"Peeresses in their own right, the widows of Peers, and the wives of
living Peers, including the wives of Irish Peers who have seats in the
House of Commons. With respect to such Peeresses as have remarried
under the rank of the Peerage, they, according to former precedent, are
not considered as entitled to such summons." (A summons to attend the
Coronation.) "As to widows of Peers who have remarried with a Peer of
lower degree, their precedence is with that of their late husband."

The dress regulations relating to others than Peers and Peeresses ruled
that gentlemen should appear in full uniform or full Court dress;
while ladies were commanded to wear Court dress without trains, and
mourning was strictly prohibited. Knights Grand Cross and Knights Grand
Commanders were instructed to present themselves in the mantles and
collars pertaining to their various orders.

Such youths as were fortunate enough to receive invitations to attend,
were instructed to do so in a black velvet costume, knickerbockers, black
silk stockings, shoes with steel buckles, and a Glengarry cap of black
velvet.

The two dominant figures in the great pageant bore upon them a burden of
crowns, and cloaks, and swords, and trains, palls, sceptres, and rings
and rods, mantles and caps and robes, whose heavy cares represented but
lightly Royal responsibility.

But the most interesting of all the garbs of convention, because the most
supremely personal, is the bridal costume, dedicated primarily to white,
and permitted to enjoy the distinctions of silver or lace decoration.

Under ordinary conditions the widow who remarries, even as the mother
of a bride, finds herself tempted to the paths of grey, and only
occasionally lapses into the more triumphant glories of violet and pale
blue and cream colour; and with the present fashion of enshrouding the
hat or toque with a pendent veil, she may confidently share the grace
of drapery with the virgin bride. Now and again during the past and the
present centuries brides have thought fit to indulge their white satin
simplicity with embroidery outlined with gold threads, and some have been
sufficiently audacious to introduce a yellow-petalled daisy; and the
revival of an old custom is the substitution of the prayer-book for the
bouquet. But these are trivialities which obtain but scant attention, not
even reaching the importance of a nine-days' wonder. On the whole, the
bride's dress in the civilised parts of Europe must be written down as
pre-eminently conservative and "splendidly null," and it is interesting
to turn from its monotony to a consideration of the ordinary bridal
costume in Ægra. This is black, and round the forehead of the bride is
bound a fillet of pendent jewels in the shape of tears. And, by the way,
I find that an embroidered pattern of tears was selected to ornament a
widow's grey cloak in the sixteenth century. Assuredly this is a poetic
notion, but its realisation might prove a little embarrassing, if the
grief for the departed subsided before the garment was worn out. There
would be nothing for it, I suppose, but to dedicate it to private service
as a house-gown, or to give it the obscurity which a petticoat enjoys.
When the sorrow dwindled to extinction, the remnants of the garment might
well be bestowed on some very poor widow whose woe, mitigated or not,
would inevitably rejoice at the chance of such elegant proclamation.
But to return to my bride of Ægra, who enters upon her duties with much
gravity and solemnity, going to the altar in a short black skirt, laced
bodice, and hooded cloak, her sole ornament the nuptial band, which is
bound round her forehead and tied with ribbon at the back, while in her
hands she carries her rosary and her veil.

In Switzerland black is allowed on festival garb, and on Sundays the
women wear black in the mornings and change to colours in the evening. In
the Berne Canton the women usually display a black lace cap, shaped like
a fan and tied under the chin, accompanying this with long green gloves;
and in everyday life their costume comprises a blue or black petticoat
reaching to the ankles, scolloped at the border with red or white,
completed with a white chemisette high to the throat, with full short
sleeves revealed beneath a short sleeveless jacket. On their heads are
straw hats, and on their legs and feet red stockings with black clocks
and heel-less shoes, and their hair is worn hanging down in two long
plaits.

Costume has through the ages been allowed to signify the married or
unmarried state of its wearer. In Rome the purple-bordered toga and the
segmentum--concerning which there has been some discussion, since it has
been separately described as a necklace, a fringe, and an embroidered
ribbon--would grace the matron. The Roman bride wore a red veil or flamen
on her wedding-day; and in Greece the married woman parted her hair in
front in a different fashion from that of the maids; and to this day in
some parts of the Grecian Islands brides wear the flame-coloured veil,
and follow the custom of putting a patch of gold-leaf on the face. The
modern bride of Corfu illustrated at page 126 is wearing a skirt of
purple and an apron of blue, and a short blue corselet buckled with gold;
her small red velvet coat is traced with gold, and gold ornaments hang
round her neck and hold the white chemisette across the bust. Ribbons
entwine her hair with garlands of flowers, and over these a soft white
veil hangs to the waist, ribbons again fluttering their elegance from
waist to hem.

In various parts of Italy the peasants have ornaments handed down from
generation to generation, and as a present to each succeeding bride an
extra chain or jewel is added, forming a sentimental record of lineage
which only the most devastating poverty induces the possessor to part
with.

The practice of weaving a wedding-veil is an old one, dating from the
times of ancient Greece. A bride of Attica is immortalised in a long
flowing robe of clinging rose colour, with a girdle of gold cord knotted
and tasselled. Her hair is closely curled round the nape of her neck,
and drawn up at the back into a wide meshed net, the front banded with
a golden fillet engraved with a Grecian key pattern, whence floats a
transparent white veil to the ground.

The donning of a bridal crown is a fashion which traces its origin to
the far North, and in Scandinavia it is the most significant feature of
the bridal attire, each parish being possessed of its special crown, the
property of the church, the pastor of which sanctions the use of the
crown only when the bride is of irreproachable character. Such a custom
should act as a powerful incentive to virtue, since to stand before the
altar uncrowned must be conclusive evidence of unworthiness.

Of copper-gilt, the bridal crown differs slightly according to the
district. In the diocese of Drontheim it is round in shape, tapering
up to spire-like points, the rim encircled with a double garland of
flowers emblematic of innocence, while from beneath it at either side
dangle streamers of gaily coloured ribbon and black lace over luxuriant
tresses, real or false, either of hair or straw. The dress consists of
a close-fitting bodice with long tight sleeves, and a plain skirt to
the ankles, of the same dark material, the short narrow apron being
of white muslin. The corsage is almost hidden beneath a pelerine made
of wool covered with white lace, edged with green ribbon, and decked
across the chest with a triangular piece of scarlet cloth, which forms
the resting-place for lavish adornment with gold and silver ornaments
connected by chains; the narrow belt is of scarlet cloth, and falls in
a single end down the left side of the front. The hands are held in a
little drum-shaped muff of red cloth, bordered by lines of green silk
and lace and further decorated with brooches; and on the feet are dark
stockings and black leather shoes with imposing silver buckles.

The costumes and customs of Sweden and Norway have always borne a certain
family resemblance; in both countries the crown plays a prominent part
at weddings, occasionally assuming proportions more fantastic than
convenient. In Hardanger the crown is a very gorgeous affair, large and
wide at the top, set with rubies and emeralds and quivering with pendent
ornaments; and beneath it the hair is divided to hang down loosely from
a shower of bright ribbons. The scarlet skirt is trimmed with black
velvet, and the white apron has a band of drawn thread-work at the hem,
the bodice revealing a plastron made of a variety of coloured cloths,
with red for the predominant hue, covered with gold and silver jewellery
of the filigree description. Tradition orders that the bride shall retain
her finery intact for an entire week, during which period the wedding
festivities are kept up with unflagging enthusiasm, and on the eighth day
she gives the signal for the merrymaking to cease by raising her hand
to press a secret spring, when the heavy crown falls from her head and
leaves her free to join in the last joyous dance with her husband.

Possibly the annals of costume contain no more extravagant wedding-dress
than that peculiar to the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. The bridal crown is
certainly unique. It is made of little quadrangular pieces of metal
which display a raised design and are mounted upon a high cylindrical
shape of pasteboard encircled by a fringe of gilt leaves attached to
silver buttons. These buttons head a band of red velvet ribbon tied in a
huge bow behind, where a curved handle of twisted green velvet extends
itself with wide ends of green velvet ribbon that conceal the ears and
are tied in an enormous bow under the chin above a stiff gigantic bow
of black silk. The tight short skirt is of dark wool with a scolloped
border of red and yellow, and a narrow pleated apron is in a dull
shade of tangerine. About the waist is a broad sash of black silk tied
in a monster bow in the front, and the tight bodice introduces the
multi-coloured vest. Little can be seen of the bride or her gown beyond
the Brobdingnagian bows, and her costume might be thought to embody the
axiom--it is well to have more than one bow to your string.

The peasantry of the Swiss canton of Fribourg hold reverently to
ancestral tradition, wearing the dress of their grandparents in token
of their resolve to remain faithful to ancient custom. The bride plaits
her hair in a single plait under an erection like the hussar's cap, made
in pale blue trimmed with narrow lines of rose silk ruching, and banded
across the forehead with black velvet. Her stockings, short skirt, and
bodice are of scarlet, the sleeves terminating with velvet cuffs, and her
apron is of black or of silk of some sombre shade. The indispensable
plastron-vest is of pink edged with silver lace and loaded with silver
buttons, and the flat circular ruffle is of pale blue edged with silver
braid; and below it hangs a fine silver chain supporting a large
medallion.

Mystic in its simple grandeur is the dress of an Armenian bride,
consisting of a long trailing gown of thick silk, richly interwoven with
gold, held at the waist by a golden girdle, and opening down the front
to show a petticoat of a contrasting colour. On the head is a wreath of
white flowers, overspread by a veil of misty white, which falls to the
ground above a shower of glittering gold streamers.

The early fashions of Egypt in gala times, although sufficiently
decorative in their colour and drapery, were always spoilt by the hideous
head-dress of black wool or hair tied with wool and plaited, or set out
aggressively at either side like a furze bush in mourning. On state
occasions the Egyptian woman wore a dress with full sleeves of silk
checked in crimson and yellow. The hem was trimmed with a gold fringe,
and round the waist was a wide girdle, and on the feet leather shoes
embroidered in gold. The black plaits as well as the head were adorned
with gold braid encrusted with precious stones; a blue lotus flower fell
over the forehead, a number of gold bodkins were placed above the fillet,
and large gold hoops hung from the ears. Bracelets and necklets formed
of rows of enamelled discs, pearls, strings of lizards and beetles of
stamped gold, all served at feasts to adorn the Egyptian beauty, whose
favourite bangle was in the form of a snake, and whose fingers were stiff
with rings.

An old Indian festival dress is emblazoned with beads and silks in gay
colours, and bears long square lappets hanging from a jewelled headpiece.
The sombre tunic is enriched with jewels at the neck and waist.
Remarkable specimens of old Indian taste and ingenuity are the tunics
made of leather thickly encrusted with beads of different colours in
geometrical pattern, such tunics being fringed with leather and completed
by a much feathered head-dress.

Byron's verse gives a haunting picture of Moorish magnificence, when he
describes Haidée in her joy:

    Around, as Princess of her father's land,
    A like gold bar above her instep rolled
    Announced her rank; twelve rings were on her hand;
    Her hair was starr'd with gems; her veil's fine fold
    Below her breast was fastened with a band
    Of lavish pearls, whose worth could scarce be told;
    Her orange silk full Turkish trousers furl'd
    About the prettiest ankle in the world.

In Bokhara the bride wears a rose-coloured veil on her wedding-day; and
here, strangely enough, deep blue is the distinctive mourning colour.

The costume of married women in Afghanistan must be granted much
admiration: they wear a shirt with wide sleeves embroidered with flowers
in coloured silks, coloured trousers, and a small cap embroidered in gold
threads, and over this, at the approach of a stranger, they throw a large
sheet. Beneath the cap the hair is divided into two plaits on either side
and fastened at the back. Chains, nose and ear rings are selected at
discretion; and the unmarried women are known by their white trousers and
loosely flowing hair.

Returning to Western climes, I note that Isabella, Queen of Richard II.
of England, included in her trousseau a gorgeous and unique robe and
mantle of red grained velvet, embroidered with metal birds of goldsmith's
work perched upon branches of pearls and green precious stones. Obviously
economy was no object, and her Majesty had determined to do the thing
handsomely.

In the sixteenth century English matrons wore a coif or close bonnet, and
the unmarried women braided their hair with knots of ribbon. There is a
curious record in the history of Chester in Henry VIII.'s time, which
includes an order "to distinguish the head-dress of the married women
from unmarried, no unmarried woman to wear white or other coloured caps;
and no woman to wear any hat, unless she rides or goes abroad into the
country (except sick or aged persons), on pain of 3s. 4d." Such an order
is almost as unreasonable as ungrammatical, yet there is comfort to be
gleaned from the fact that the tax on disobedience was but 3s. 4d.

In the sixteenth century in Scotland the hair of an unmarried girl was
bound by a snood or simple fillet, a lock of hair hanging on each side
of the face and tied with a ribbon; but, when married, women covered the
hair with a fold of linen fastened under the chin and falling in points
on the shoulders.

At the marriage of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I., in 1613,
when the fashion of the time was the stiff stomacher, farthingale and
ruff, "the bride wore a crown set with diamonds, a dress of silver
stuff embroidered with silver, pearls and precious stones, the train so
long that it was borne by twelve or fifteen fair young ladies, the hair
flowing freely down as low as the knee, in the style that virgins used
to wear their hair at their weddings." After dinner the Princess put on
a dress embroidered with gold, and did up her hair.

This description of a Venetian wedding in the eighteenth century was
by Lady Miller:--"All the ladies, except the bride, were dressed in
their black gowns with large hoops; the gowns were straight-bodied with
very long trains, the trains tucked up on one side of the hoop with a
prodigious large tassel of diamonds. Their sleeves were covered up to
their shoulders with falls of the finest Brussels lace, a drawn tucker
of the same round the bosom, adorned with rows of the finest pearls,
each the size of a gooseberry, till the rows descended below the top of
the stomacher; then two rows of pearls, which came from the back of the
neck, were caught up at the left side of the stomacher, and finished in
two fine tassels. Their heads were dressed prodigiously high, in a vast
number of buckles and two long drop curls in the neck. A great number
of diamond pins and strings of pearls adorned their heads, with large
sultanas, or feathers, on one side, and magnificent diamond ear-rings.
The bride was dressed in cloth of silver made in the same fashion, and
decorated in the same manner, but her brow was kept quite bare, and she
had a fine diamond necklace and an enormous bouquet."

Lady Miller deserved to have lived in times when the conduct of the
fashion paper was amongst the privileges of the high nobility.



CHAPTER XIX

OF DANCING DRESSES, EUROPEAN AND ORIENTAL, ANCIENT AND MODERN


Sympathy between Church and Stage is of no novel date. The relationship
between the two has been close and intimate since the days when no
religious festival was complete without its chorus of dancers, and the
officiating priests took part in the tripping until the introduction, in
the Middle Ages, of such profanities as the Dance of Death and the Dance
of the Angels, common in Italy, Spain, and France, caused the practice to
fall into disrepute.

Possibly the present time sees the Terpsichorean art at its lowest ebb.
Nevertheless, a promising sign of reviving interest is that modern
scientists, following the example of the old Greek philosophers, are
emerging as champions of the lightsome measure. Still, it is doubtful
whether it will ever again attain the respect it reached in ancient
Greece; and it were mere optimism to hope that we may yet witness Members
of Parliament dancing to their seats in the House of Commons, our judges
pirouetting solemnly towards the bench, and our admirals and generals
inculcating a spirit of patriotism by dances devised to inspire heroic
sentiments and an exalted idea of military duty.

The ballet, an invention of the priesthood of Egypt, was inaugurated in
connection with certain sacred festivals, notably those dedicated to the
bull Apis, and it formed an important feature of the initiatory rites
into the mysteries of Isis. It was mystic rather than sensuous, and
the aim of its composer was to suggest the hidden things of the cult,
the course of the heavenly bodies, and the harmony of the universe.
The astronomical dance was far from being the only one practised. At
Memphis and Thebes the priests danced round the bull Apis; the figures
in turn depicting the miraculous birth of the god, the incidents of
his childhood, and his union with Isis. Finally, on the occasion of
his death, his obsequies were celebrated with dances of appropriate
solemnity. But, alas! these capers were not concerned with clothes, for
the performers were unhampered by sartorial considerations, and the
toilet of a female dancer consisted of a narrow metal girdle about the
hips, the deep circular collar peculiar to the race, and a tambourine.
Occasionally these items were supplemented by a transparent robe of the
finest white muslin, and the arrangement of the hair, or wig, was always
elaborate. Framing the face, it rested on either shoulder in a dense mass
of plaits, the back hanging in a straight line of thick braids just below
the nape of the neck, while a gleaming metal fillet flashed low on the
forehead. Male dancers contented themselves with serried skirts, in which
they twirled with extended arms, much after the manner of dervishes.

[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN DANCER.]

Descendants of these ancient ballerinas are to be found in Egypt
to-day in the persons of the Ghawazees. In common with most Oriental
dancers, the Ghawazee takes up her position on a brightly coloured
carpet. She is dressed in a sleeveless corselet, brilliantly enamelled
after the style of an Egyptian sword-sheath, her only other article of
attire being a simple muslin chemise vividly spotted and star-bespangled,
while on her head a kerchief of cloth of gold is draped in quaint manner.
Her bare feet never move, the body alone vibrating to the shrill music of
flute and cymbals. The play of the long supple arms is wonderful as they
in turn caress and pursue an invisible being who eternally eludes their
passionate embrace.

To revert to the days when the Pyramids were the newest thing in
architecture, traces of the sacred dance of Apis are found in Biblical
history where the prophets of Israel inaugurated the habit of dancing
round the golden calf; but unfortunately the costume is omitted from the
records, and though I know Miriam led a procession, dancing and playing
on the tambourine, and David danced before the Ark, and Jephthah's
daughter danced to her doom, their dress is "enwrop in mystery"; and I
can but hope it was adequate.

The art of dancing was glorified into popularity in Greece, where it was
held in high veneration and freely indulged in by all members of the
community, upon whom the exercise was rendered incumbent up to the age
of thirty. How salutary a similar rule would be, if enforced in England
to-day! There would be no lack of dancing men at balls, the task of the
chaperone would be lightened, and the burden of anxiety pressing upon
the much-harassed hostess reduced to a feather-weight.

The dances of the old Hellenes were divided into three classes--the
sacred, the military, and the profane; and dress was endowed with a
festive air by the flowers and garlands of leaves worn on the head. A
chorus of female dancers, attired in white, was a feature at funerals;
while, clad in full armour and equipped as though for the field of
battle, men practised the military dances with vigour and enthusiasm.

In ancient Rome the art of dancing, as learned from the Greeks,
degenerated into an excuse for licentiousness, and wealthy patricians
included female dancers among their slaves. The dress of these dancers
was of transparent tissue held by jewelled girdles, and flowers were in
their hair and fell in a wreath round their necks.

In India there are two classes of dancers--those consecrated to the
service of the pagodas, and those known as Nautch girls, or to give
them their Portuguese title, Bayadeses. The former are termed Devadasi,
and are to be found in numbers in the sacred city of Benares. The dress
of the Nautch girl is brightly coloured, of rich material brilliantly
decorated with embroidery and precious stones. It comprises tight
embroidered trousers to the ankles, plainly visible through a short skirt
of transparent texture held at the waist by a girdle from which hangs a
narrow white muslin apron, pleated and bordered with gold. The little
chuli, a diminutive jacket, is short-sleeved and cut low at the throat,
and leaves the centre of the body bare but for a diaphanous scarf which
floats from the left shoulder, twines round the figure, and escapes to
flutter in a loose end behind. Glistening with oil, the black hair is
parted and hangs down the back in a long plait, weighted with a cluster
of gold tassels. The tiny skull-cap is gaily embroidered, and the scented
petals of flowers quiver amid the dark tresses. Bracelets load the arms
and legs, rings scintillate in the ears and on the fingers and toes,
chains dangle from the neck, and an enormous ring depends from the left
nostril. During centuries the dances of the Devadasi and Nautch girls
have altered little, if at all, and it would be amusing to contrast their
methods with the polychromatic lightsome modernity of Loie Fuller, the
abrupt conclusions of the "high-kicker," and the prim precisions of the
pink-shod pirouetter of the pantomime. Will the Lord Chamberlain permit?

Like the Daimios and Samourai, the sacred Geisha is rapidly becoming a
memory only in the Japan of to-day. Nevertheless, the custom of keeping
dancing girls in the temples still survives in certain provinces. Quaint
because of their solemnity, the religious dances are executed by a number
of diminutive maidens under thirteen years of age. Ranged on a platform,
these odd little vestals are garbed in a manner which adds considerably
to the bizarre effect of the scene. Each wears twelve kimonos, one on
top of the other, alternately white and red, the borders showing in
regular rows at the throat, and over these is a Court mantle sumptuously
embroidered in gold and coloured silks, the back shaped to suggest a
chasuble. Divided down the centre in front, the hair hangs in a plait
behind, decorated with circles cut out of gold paper drawn together to
form two big rings, while at the temples appear clusters of red camellias
and wistaria and metal ornaments. The face is whitened and the lips are
stained vermilion, and the shaved eyebrows replaced by short, slanting
lines of black paint, which lend a touch at once piquant and grotesque.
The Geisha of the house is a vastly different person. Her sole mission in
life is to amuse and entertain. To this end she dons a gaily-embroidered
kimono and decorates her black hair with fans, flowers, and other
ornaments. Her prettiest performance is the fan dance, to the light
strain of a stringed instrument played by a female musician. Fluttering
a fan in her right hand, with her left she liberates a paper butterfly,
then, darting hither and thither with marvellous grace and dexterity, she
pursues it as it floats towards a flower, skims a petal and alights on
the brim of a cup, to escape afresh and describe moth-like circles about
the flame of a candle, suddenly disappearing in a quick flash of fire.

In Mohammedan countries dancing is denounced as a sin. Men never indulge
in it, either for profit or pastime, while such women as make it their
profession are regarded as disreputable members of the community.

Despite the ban placed upon them, Persian dancers are wonderfully
skilful, and capable of performing prodigies in their particular line.
They dance to the accompaniment of an air chanted by a woman or a boy.
The rhythm is slow, the tune languorous, and the action pantomimic, being
made up of certain poses and movements which, seconded by an eloquent
play of feature, strive to tell a story of some sort. The most popular
and best known is the Dance of the Bee. The dancer pretends to have been
stung, and pursues the insect with a thousand graceful turns and bends,
divesting herself of her garments as she does so. She first appears upon
the scene in the all-enveloping mantle common to her countrywomen out
of doors. This removed, she is seen to be wearing a short skirt, pulled
well down on the hips, a long-sleeved jacket of white muslin, cut low at
the neck and open nearly all the way from the throat, and a little coat
of brightly coloured silk, satin, or velvet. Her hair hangs in plaits,
surmounted by a tiny embroidered cap perched high on the head. Finally
she discards both coat and inner jacket, and reveals a body covered
with tattoo marks, huge serpents writhing about the legs, and flowers,
birds, and palms standing out prominently on the white flesh. Her bust
is supported by round shields joined together in front and attached by
a narrow band behind, and in her hands she manipulates a scarf with
marvellous grace and dexterity.

The costume of a Turkish dancer allows less freedom of movement, being
more cumbersome and elaborate. The skirt reaches to the ankles, where it
terminates in a deep hem headed by a fringe, and the little sleeveless
jacket is fastened at the throat only, and opens over a chemisette. About
the waist a fringed shawl is arranged in such a way as to suggest a
circular frill, while a belt, held by a large clasp, is drawn low on the
hips. A white veil is thrown over the turban and pinned under the chin
with a jewelled brooch, concealing the hair and ears but leaving the face
exposed, and on the feet are yellow slippers sewn with seed pearls.

The Sword Dance of Bonnie Scotland has its Oriental prototype in the
Dance of the Scimitar. The latter inspires a charming costume. A veil of
diaphanous gauze falls cloud-like over the hair and face, and the white
muslin chemisette, with its sleeve to the elbow, is drawn in below the
waist with a coloured sash, a necklace composed of rows of gilt coins
glittering on the bare throat. The ankle-length skirt is of heavier
texture, draped with a fringed shawl drawn round the hips, knotted in
front, and hanging in a point behind; while a scimitar is balanced on the
head, a second being held in the right hand, the left resting lightly on
the hip.

Much as the mantilla makes for grace in Spanish dances, I, personally,
prefer the dress of the peasants. In Galicia a rural dancer delights
the eye in a quaint hat shaped like a fool's cap, with the addition
of a three-cornered brim of black velvet turned sharply up in front,
one pompon adorning the summit and another appearing midway down at
either side. A scarlet sash, with fringed ends, is knotted carelessly
on the right hip, and the long-sleeved white shirt is thrown into
striking relief by a little sleeveless bolero of scarlet cloth, the back
bearing an embroidered design, the front conspicuous for triangular
pockets dedicated to castanets, and small revers of black velvet. The
tightly-fitting knickerbockers are of tan leather, finished at the
knee with black bands, where they are met by gaiters to match, closely
buttoned up the outer side. A female dancer is no less picturesque in a
short skirt of striped red and white, low black shoes and white cotton
stockings; her apron displays a border of contrasting colour, and the
chemisette is almost concealed by a short round cape of cloth edged with
black velvet, which crosses over and fastens at the left side of the
waist. A gaily-patterned kerchief is worn on the hair, the point falling
beyond the shoulders behind.

Infinitely more showy is the dancing dress of a professional, a member
of a well-known troupe in Seville. The yellow satin skirt, reaching
below the knees, is laden with glittering sequin trimming and a shower
of lace and chiffon flounces, and powdered with spangles and small
imitation coins. The low-necked satin bodice has tight elbow-sleeves,
softened with lace frills, and from the _décolletage_ dangle glittering
paillettes, a cluster of flowers being fastened at the left shoulder.
The hair is elaborately arranged, and a bunch of flowers peeps out at
the right side from under the folds of a mantilla. An important part of
the male dancer's dress is a black toreador hat, with a large pompon
in front. Merely a glimpse is caught of a white shirt front, and the
long-sleeved satin or velvet jacket is gorgeously embroidered at the
wrists. Similar embroidery shows down the outside of either leg of the
satin knickerbockers, which meet white stockings accompanied by black
ballet shoes. A sash with fringed ends is knotted on one hip, and a cloak
is thrown with careless care over the shoulders and wound in inimitable
fashion round the left arm.

The "Coon" dance so dear to the South American makes no great demands
upon the skill and ingenuity of those entrusted with the planning of
a suitable costume. A short skirt of red and white awning is the most
usual, accompanied by a scarlet sash knotted low on the left hip. The
loose white blouse vaunts a sailor collar, turned-back cuffs, and a
cravat of striped material matching the skirt. Black shoes and stockings
are worn, and the large straw hat is of the haymaker order, the crown
encircled by a red scarf tied at the left side with the ends falling to
the shoulder.

A costume appealing to the male dancer who appreciates comfort is that of
gay old Pierrot, with his full white trousers and black pompons, loose
coat and ruffle, conical hat above a black silk scarf, whitened face,
and vermilion lips. His feminine companion is a common object in the
fancy-dress ballrooms on and off the stage.

Practically every country has its characteristic dances, to which are
naturally dedicated some adaptation of the national dress. There are
fancy dances in plenty which call for no distinctive style of dress,
but the fashion fits the footstep as a rule, and no doubt influenced
its birth. The stately movements of the minuet and the grace of the
gavotte ask for the dignity of powder and brocade; the country dance
seems the merrier for the gaily-coloured fluttering ribbons and short
bright petticoats; the hornpipe would lose some significance without the
co-operation of navy blue and a man-o'-war or a Jack-tar hat; the hunting
dance shouts "away" for pink; the Irish jig is shorn of much of its
charm without the emerald-green skirt, the scarlet cloak, and the folded
kerchief; the Scotch dance demands its tartan; the Spanish dance the
mantilla and castanets; and so on through the whole dictionary of dances.
The mode suits the measure, and the dance destined to be performed
in clogs loses its individuality when tripped in satin slippers; the
tarantella could not live to tell its tale in sabots; the jig would jump
to a conclusion under the stultifying glories of satin and patches; and
the sensuous grace of the East would expire in the bondage of Western
raiment.



CHAPTER XX

OF THEATRICAL DRESS


The time has long gone by when the dress of his own period would serve
the turn of the actor in any character in any play, irrespective of the
century in which its story passed. That condition of affairs has no place
even in the mental treasure-trove of the oldest playgoer, who saw Edmund
Kean, and never lets you forget it.

Although it has not been stated that the most audacious actor ever
ventured to play _Hamlet_ in a tall hat, solecisms no less grave have
in the long ago been committed and condoned, even applauded. Imagine
Othello addressing the "most potent, grave, and reverend signiors" of
sixteenth-century Venice in a stiff-skirted coat, breeches and waistcoat
of the English fashion of George II.'s day, with a full-bottomed wig, a
three-cornered hat, and a black face! Yet that was how Garrick dressed
the part, and, notwithstanding, thrilled his audience to enthusiasm;
whilst handsome Spranger Barry won even Colley Cibber's applause when
he acted the dusky Moor dressed in a full suit of gold-laced scarlet,
a small cocked hat, knee breeches, and silk stockings! Then, picture
Macbeth, as Garrick played him, in a 1750 suit of black silk, and silk
stockings and shoes, with buckles at his knees and feet, and a tie wig,
or in the scarlet and gold-laced uniform of a British general of George
III.'s reign! And fancy Lady Macbeth in enormous hooped petticoats and
huge flounces, as Mrs. Yates dressed her; yet, when she said, "Give
me the daggers," and took them in her hands, as an old print shows
her doing, no one in the audience recorded a thought that the action
was incongruous with the costume, or the costume with the tragedy.
What a contrast to the superb green and gold glories of the costume of
Miss Ellen Terry's Lady Macbeth, immortalised by Sargent! But there
was no attempt in those days to give the audiences anything better.
When Benjamin West asked Garrick why he did not initiate reform in
stage-costume, his answer was that the public would not allow it. "They
would throw a bottle at my head," added the great actor, and he found it
easier to elude the bottle--at least, that particular bottle.

I believe it is to John Kemble we are indebted for the first careful
study of dressing a part on its merits, even though he did not allow
himself too near an approach to accuracy, lest, as he said, the public
should call him in disgust "an antiquary." So he did not hesitate, in
playing Macbeth, to wear a great bonnet of the 42nd Highlanders--the
Black Watch. But when Sir Walter Scott saw this, he was so shocked at
the anachronism that he plucked out the big plume and replaced it with a
single broad eagle's feather, the time-honoured symbol of the Highland
chieftain.

It was, however, to the antiquarian researches of R. J. Planché, for
Charles Kemble's production of _King John_ at Covent Garden in 1823,
that our stage owes its first important step in the reform of costume.
Macready, who urged the reform still further, carried his sense of the
importance of costume to such a point during the rehearsals of _Henry V._
that he went to bed in his armour, desiring that, not only should the
dress become the part, but he should become the dress. I recollect Sir
Henry Irving quoting this fact, when telling me that he himself always
followed the practice of wearing the clothes for a new part a few days
previous to assuming them on the stage.

Sir Henry was, of course, a past master in the art of theatrical costume,
and to his genius and taste more than to any other influence we may
attribute its present development on the English stage.

Let the old playgoer prate enthusiastically as he will about Charles
Kean, and his splendid Shakespearean revivals at the Princess's Theatre,
dramatic art has never been more picturesquely, richly, and appropriately
clothed than it was at the Lyceum Theatre in the great days of Henry
Irving. Even to talk to him of his productions was a liberal education in
all arts appertaining to the theatre. That the great actor took infinite
personal trouble with every detail, and would, in his own costume,
direct the cut of the drapery, the shape of the shirt collar, and the
exact position of the sash, or the fold of the turban, all who were
privileged to associate with him at work are fully aware. I recall many
conversations with him on the subject of stage costume, and invariably he
would bring out some point of its psychological bearing. As to variation
in the interpretation of a character under the influence of a different
dress, for instance, I remember his saying--"When you have the good
fortune to act with an actress like Miss Terry, the artist dominates the
woman under any conditions of costume, and the least suggestion is easily
grasped and appreciated. In all times, modes and manners must influence
each other, and different gestures inevitably accompany different
costumes. You would not, for instance, see a lady when wearing Grecian
draperies disport herself in the same fashion as one bearing the stiff
stomacher and monstrous farthingale of the Elizabethan period."

[Illustration: MISS ELLEN TERRY AS MISTRESS PAGE.]

Again, we were discussing the question of colour in relation to certain
emotions, moods, and traits of character. "Who would think of playing a
murderer in sky-blue satin and silver?" Sir Henry said. And not pausing
for my reply: "Of course one expects a woman to go mad in white. Can you
picture Hamlet in colours? Surely he demands black clothes, indeed the
text says as much,--although the colour for the expression of mourning in
Denmark at that period was, I believe, red."

But, after all, the first thing is, or should be, to fit the personality
to the character, and then the question of dress is comparatively easy.
John Ryder, by the way, used to explain his protracted engagement
with Charles Kean as being solely due to what he was wont to call his
"archæological" figure.

[Illustration: ISOLDE.]

It has been questioned whether the public cares, or knows, much about the
details of stage dress, upon which so much time and thought are bestowed;
but then it is recognised that amongst the neglected arts is the art of
costume, and pending the establishment of the Royal Academy of Dress,
over which, of course, Mr. Percy Anderson should preside, visits to the
theatre may offer to the student considerable instruction. In other days
the scholar resented any incongruities of stage-costume. The satire of
Pope pictures them vividly in the early eighteenth century:

    Such is the shout, the long applauding note,
    At Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's petticoat!
    Or when from Court a birthday suit bestowed,
    Sinks the lost actor in the tawdry load.
    Booth enters--Hark! the universal peal!
    But has he spoken? Not a syllable.
    What shook the stage, and made the people stare?
    Cato's long wig, flowered gown, and lacquered chair.

Imagine an ancient Roman in a periwig and flowered gown after the Queen
Anne fashion! No wonder Addison, as he sat in a side box with two or
three friends to watch his tragedy on the first night, needed flasks of
Burgundy and champagne to support his spirits, for had he not pleaded
in a number of the _Spectator_ for the poet against the costumier? "The
ordinary method of making a hero is to clap a huge plume of feathers on
his head, which rises so very high that there is often a greater length
from his chin to the top of his head than to the sole of his foot....
As these superfluous ornaments make a great man, a princess gradually
receives her grandeur from those additional encumbrances which fall into
her tail. I mean the broad sweeping train which follows her in all her
motions, and forms constant employment for a boy who stands behind her
to open and spread to advantage. I do not know how others are affected
at this sight, but I must confess my eyes are wholly taken up with the
page's part, and, as for the Queen, I am not so attentive to anything she
speaks as to the right adjusting of her train, lest it should chance
to trip up her heels, or incommode her as she walks to and fro upon the
stage. It is, in my opinion, a very odd spectacle to see a Queen venting
her passions in a disordered motion, and a little boy all the while
taking care they do not ruffle the tail of her gown. The parts that the
two persons act on the stage at the same time are very different. The
princess is afraid lest she should incur the displeasure of the King
her father, or lose the hero her lover, whilst her attendant is only
concerned lest she should entangle her feet in her petticoat.... In
short, I would have our conception raised by the dignity of thought and
sublimity of expression, rather than by a train of robes or plume of
feathers."

But here was no plea for correctness of costume, which might have
obviated the distractions complained of. Nowadays we have altered all
that, and indeed we had one modern play, _Frocks and Frills_, frankly
devoted to dress as the pivot of its plot. Yet its author, Mr. Grundy,
never gives any very special instructions in the matter of costume, his
stage directions being very simple, merely stating whether a woman should
be handsomely or poorly dressed. He declares, however, that directly he
sees the players ready and "made up," he can realise whether or not his
work is going to be successful, feeling that if they have realised the
personalities, and look like the men and women he has conceived, they
will represent the characters convincingly. He audaciously advances the
dogma, that every woman is at heart a fashion-plate, and I wish I could
set him down for serious conversion by Mrs. Tree, one amongst the few
whose taste in dress on the stage is quite irreproachable, who never
makes a mistake in fitting her clothes to her part.

Mrs. Tree vows that if you gave her a dozen yards of white crêpe de
chine, she would make a costume in which she could appear as Ophelia,
Lady Macbeth, Constance, and Juliet, and would undertake in the disposal
of her draperies to satisfy the demands of the most exacting critic.
But on the subject of fashion Mrs. Tree is a heretic, refusing to treat
it seriously, and indulging in the theory that "everything is people,
nothing is gowns." The philosophy of clothes as expounded by Mrs. Tree,
if rendered popular, would not bring much grist to the mill of the
modiste; but then "In this life nothing comes off--except buttons" is her
favourite pessimism.

I have heard a famous dramatist declare that when he wants to mark a
situation strongly upon the minds of the audience, he never allows the
heroine to make entry in a new frock. He also contended that, in choosing
her own gown, the actress should choose it in relation to those to be
worn by other players appearing in the same scene, regarding herself, not
primarily as an individual but as one in a group. She should also take
care that her dress is suited not only to her surroundings but to her
"business," so that no drapery impede her movements, no tightness be a
bar to graceful gesture.

No less an authority than Mr. Pinero, when discussing the influence that
dress may exercise on the art of acting, has declared that our plays
are for the most part over-dressed, with extravagance, vulgarity, and
inappropriateness obtaining in place of artistic fitness. It is well
known that Pinero takes a personal interest in every detail pertaining
to his productions, and such condemnation from him is condemnation
indeed. Especially when he caps it by saying that he has found that the
new costumes have to some extent frequently undone the results of his
undress rehearsals, the actresses no longer representing his creations as
they did before the dressmakers sent home their gowns, while the variety
of their impersonations is swamped by the uniformity of their fashions.

Even while grumbling, Pinero admits that stage costume has made wonderful
progress since the time when Robertson's appropriately-dressed plays
doomed the theatrical stock wardrobe, and Alfred Thompson initiated
reforms making for artistic harmony; nevertheless, Pinero protests that
it is time for the dramatist, in the interests of dramatic art, to say to
the costumiers and the purveyors of fashion, "Thus far shall ye go, and
no farther."

Sir James Linton took up this cry, while declaring that the bane of the
dressmaker was over all feminine stage costume, and would be, until there
arose an autocratic manager. Sir James is severe, and would accept no
compromise, insisting that dress in historical plays should be absolutely
accurate, quite regardless of the becoming, and asserting that an element
of incongruity is always present on the stage, introduced by the mere
vanity of the mere woman.

In how far the art of costume may affect the art of drama I have my pet
theories, which include a predilection in favour of red of all shades for
historical dress; an appreciation of the charm of decoration in black and
gold; a recognition of the immense value of black in small quantities
wisely disposed, and much sympathy with trimmings of black and white on
light dress of modern fashion. Combinations of colour which in ordinary
circumstances would appear at least daring, and, at the most, unpleasant,
have a knack of being effective when worn on the stage. The deep crimson
lining to the scarlet cloak may be quoted as an example of this, together
with the alliance of emerald green with turquoise blue, and orange colour
with lemon. On fairies and other angels of the ballet the repetition of
the same costume is of great value, the multiplied mass enchaining the
eye, where smaller groups of diverse details fail to hold it.

[Illustration: GEORGE ALEXANDER AS GUY DOMVILLE.]

In moments of passionate emotion it is well that the actor or actress
should discard a hat. Irving rarely wore one at all, invariably taking
the first opportunity to remove his, bearing it with his special grace
under his arm or in his hand, as opportunity permitted.

In the management of classic drapery considerable skill and much
practice are demanded, and many an actor of contemporary methods finds
himself lost and awkward without the consoling comfort of his trouser
pocket for his restless fingers, or the convenient coat-tail to be
jerked, in fits of irritation. Undoubtedly, it is wise for the player
to accustom himself to unconventional clothes for some days before
assuming them on the stage: it is only thus that he can hope to avoid
self-consciousness and to escape inelegance of movement and gesture.
Women, although more easily adapted to new clothes, and less embarrassed
under their influence, because more accustomed to such privileges, yet
suffer restraint in different attire, and would yet do well to consider
the advisability of rehearsing in their frocks on more than one occasion
before they permit these to accompany them in their histrionic duties.

The stage has oftentimes had the privilege of introducing new fashions,
and the most apathetic patron of the playhouse may be lured to the
auditorium by the report of something new in petticoats, an ideal
coiffure, or the latest modish mandate obeyed to the letter in a
belt. Miss Violet Vanbrugh may have the credit of bringing to notice
the elegant charms of the corselet, and the trim fascinations of the
stock collar, worn with the right sort of cravat. To Miss Mary Moore I
attribute a revived popularity of the broad black Alsatian bow; she wore
this in velvet in her clever impersonation in _Mrs. Gorringe's Necklace_,
and all the world of women flocked to see and to copy; while her little
short-waisted white muslin frock, with broad ribbons and puffed sleeves,
in _Rosemary_ made that heroine an inevitable figure at fancy-dress
balls for months after the production of this dainty little play. Miss
Letty Lind, Miss Kate Vaughan, and Miss Jessie Milward--I take my
examples at random--may all be counted pioneers. To Kate Vaughan we owe
the lace-frilled petticoat, beneath the influence of which she daintily
danced her way into public favour. Miss Letty Lind first wore the
accordion-pleated dancing skirt, and Miss Jessie Milward popularised the
lawn-embroidered collars and cuffs. I forget which Adelphi melodrama she
graced with these trifles, but I am safe in asserting that she was the
heroine of the drama, and was made happy by wedding bells as the curtain
fell.

[Illustration: JULIAN L'ESTRANGE AS HERMES.]

It is easy for me to let my pictures in this chapter give me my cues
for dilating on specially splendid productions which it has been my
privilege to enjoy, for Mr. Anderson has been responsible for the
majority of these, and his pencil has illuminated the various centuries
with experience, infinite care, and a skill of which I have promised him
faithfully not to speak.

An exception, however, was _Coriolanus_ at the Lyceum, a play lending
itself pre-eminently to dignified interpretation, and it is needless
to say that Sir Henry Irving saw that it got this. Perhaps the great
actor never looked more imposing than in the military robes of dull red
and leopard skins, with a cuirass of richly-wrought gold, though, to be
sure, he always wore his ecclesiastical garb with the grand air, and as
Wolsey, Richelieu, and Becket he embodied the venerable magnificence of
established holiness.

[Illustration: BEERBOHM TREE AS MALVOLIO.]

Miss Ellen Terry, as Volumnia, also personified dignity, whether in a
loose garb of purple silk, with a mantle of yellow and brown falling
from a diadem-shaped head-dress set with turquoise, or when, after her
successful pleading with her son, she threw aside her garb of woeful
black, and was radiant in a draped tunic embroidered in pink and gold,
with gold ornaments round her arms and turquoise chains upon her neck.

The picture of Rome under Nero, Mr. Tree personally invested with a
purposeful effeminacy, and his tunics and garlands of flowers accentuated
the poet in the man. Mrs. Tree showed Agrippina at her best beneath the
influence of many-coloured veils, violet and red being the dominant
notes; and two gracious pictures rise before my eyes as I write, of Miss
Constance Collier as Poppæa in white, with a thick wreath of scarlet
poppies around her dusky head, and of Miss Dorothea Baird in peach
colour, with lilacs entwined in her fair hair.

[Illustration: LEWIS WALLER AS HENRY V.]

Amongst other notable figures which dwell in my memory is Miss Lily
Hanbury as Chorus in _Henry V._, produced by Lewis Waller, whose mien
in armour, bearing a fine cloak lined with Venetian red, breathed the
essential spirit of martial force. Miss Hanbury looked wonderful in
draperies of brilliant red over white, standing on a pedestal against a
black background. And the secret of the admirable conduct of her folds
was that the white under-dress of crêpe de chine was wrung when wet,
and round this were wound seventeen yards of blood-red crêpe. With this
splendid triumph of personality Miss Hanbury may class her appearance as
Lady Blessington in Mr. Tree's production, _The Last of the Dandies_,
when she appeared in a pale-blue satin gown, very full round the waist,
with a white chiffon double-frilled fichu over her shoulders, and
a bonnet bearing a lace veil pendent over the back, and clusters of
pink roses resting beneath the brim in front. _The Last of the Dandies_
was, as it should have been, quite a _succès de costume_, and it may be
written down under this aspect to the credit of Percy Anderson.

[Illustration: MISS CONSTANCE COLLIER AS VIOLA.]

This reminds me of the illustrations which adorn this chapter. Firstly,
of George Alexander in _Guy Domville_, that subtly clever play by Henry
James, which came before its time and died of its premature birth. Sombre
black is the dress chosen by this English Protestant gentleman about to
take holy orders in the latter part of the eighteenth century.

In _Ulysses_ the costumes were in form and colour essentially primitive,
archaic indeed, and no less a compliment has been bestowed on Mr.
Anderson's work in this direction than the proposition that the designs
should be acquired by the British Museum. The sketch of Julian l'Estrange
as Hermes may be taken as typical; gold and black and red expressed it,
and there were red wings to the cap and sandals to the feet.

As Malvolio Mr. Tree excelled all his predecessors. Even the old playgoer
yielded his admiration to the fantastic charms of this egotist, who
displayed just the right touch of absurdity in every gesture, in every
inflection of his voice, and in every detail of his clothes, who was so
elegant with his elongated stick, and his blade-green and yellow slashed
dress with its monster ruff and foppish frills.

Miss Constance Collier as Viola wore a dress of grey embroidered with
silver, the cap of scarlet tossing a blue tassel, while her pouch of
crimson velvet embroidered with gold had peculiar slits or pockets for
weapons, and her sleeves hung wing-like in exact copy of the Albanian
costume, a happy idea, since the Illyria of Shakespeare is the Albania of
to-day.

Desdemona, as played by Miss Gertrude Elliot in Forbes Robertson's
production of _Othello_ at the Lyceum Theatre, was a sweet and dainty
creature indeed, wearing the palest of colours, white, pale blue and
silver, and gold, with a trellis of pearls on her fair head, and ribbons
and pearls entwined in her flowing locks.

[Illustration: MISS GERTRUDE ELLIOT AS DESDEMONA.]

_Véronique_, the first of a new series of comic operas with a plot, was
remarkable altogether for its exquisite frocks. No prettier harmony could
have been imagined than the chrysoprase-green and white of the first
act, unless it be the many gradations of pink, cerise, and red which
graced the last act in company with a little band of maidens clad in
pale-lemon colour. The picture of Véronique shows her with the close lace
cap threaded with little green ribbons, and with short soft glacé sacque
trimmed with ribbons, and this she wore in the famous swing scene, where
the daintiest of little early Victorian brides danced in white muslin and
a poke bonnet under the shade of pink and white chestnut trees.

The Othello of my picture is wearing a dress of thick woollen fabric in
deep cream tone; his head is bound with a white turban, in which greenly
glistens a huge emerald, emeralds being embroidered on the sleeves
interspersed with a design of red silk; and there are jewels of all
colours encrusted in his sword-belt, and his sash is of red cashmere
fringed with red and green.

It is invidious to make comparisons--I have heard this for many years,
and known it even longer--yet I would boldly declare that there are but
few ladies upon the stage who understand the important fact that, by the
dressing of the hair and the decoration of the head, they may make or
mar the most gorgeous or most simple garment. Miss Ellen Terry and Mrs.
Tree share a talent for historical head-dressing, whilst of the younger
generation Miss Dorothea Baird and Miss Lily Brayton most justly deserve
the palm of excellence for the way they express their sense of period in
the arrangement of their tresses, and will dismiss all hankerings
after the merely becoming in the higher interests of the entirely
appropriate.

[Illustration: OTHELLO.]

[Illustration: VÉRONIQUE.]

The most interesting actresses of to-day make a cult of costume, and
are ever ready with views, theories, and even predilections. Miss Irene
Vanbrugh, for example, who, with her sister, Miss Violet Vanbrugh, would
seem to interpret all that is fashionable on the stage, and to speak
materially the last word of modern style, quite unlike Miss Baird, who
pleads for the lines of nature and would kill fashion, frankly declares
her favourite stage costume was the kimono in which she played that
exciting scene in _The Gay Lord Quex_. Her experience of the crinoline
period in _Trelawny of the Wells_, with the frilled skirts, pork-pie
hats, and the hair-nets, led Miss Vanbrugh to be thankful that in real
life she had escaped fashions "so detestably uncomfortable."

Another typically elegant actress is Miss Ellis Jeffries, and her
personal taste inclines towards the plainest and simplest costumes, as
she told me, while adding, "Of course you won't believe me, but it's
true. I choose my frocks to suit my circumstances on the stage, and also
to some extent the emotions I have to express; and I insisted, in spite
of criticism, that, when I had to play the part of an hysterical woman,
I should robe her in scarlet. I felt I couldn't be hysterical in white
muslin; could you?"

Miss Marie Tempest, exploiting to perfection the sartorial possibilities
of _Peg Woffington_, made her first appearance in that play in a dress
of daffodil yellow with pointed bodice outlined with sable, the skirt
trimmed with sable, and a lace cap fitting closely to her powdered head.
She was amazingly hooped and paniered, and looked her most gorgeous in
the second act, in a dress of white satin flounced with silver lace,
profusely ornamented with ruches and rosettes of pink chiffon. A scarf of
silver tissue was draped across the front of the skirt, a knot of black
velvet decked the low bodice, and a fascinating little black feather
nodded on one side of the head.

Again, as Becky Sharp, Miss Marie Tempest showed her nice sense of the
fitness of things, gracing the historic ball on the eve of Waterloo in
pink chiffon with clusters of roses, and choosing a Court gown of Empire
tendency, made with a white satin train lined with cloth of gold, and
embroidered in a leaf design of gold, which also appeared across the bust
and on the hem of the chiffon under-skirt.

Yet Miss Tempest avowedly does not believe that the actress should
subordinate her personality in any way to a general scheme. Discussing
the question, she said: "I think that designers of theatrical costume as
a rule are altogether oblivious of the special requirements of individual
faces and figures. To the designer, it seems to me, the actress is merely
a note of colour in his general scheme. Only that, and nothing more!
I would urge that exactly the same kind of costume cannot possibly be
becoming alike to tall, majestic women and a little insignificant _nez
retroussé_ person like me! I cannot afford to have two or three lines
going across my figure and cutting me up into slices; nor can I have my
neck muffled and ruffled up to the eyes, and my shoulders loaded with
heavy cloaks, without feeling perfectly swamped and overwhelmed--and
looking it, which is worse! I always think," she concluded, "that a
woman ought to have a large share in the designing and arranging of
stage-dresses, for she can understand what is becoming far better than a
man. Small matters of detail are carried out better by women than by men.
And women, of course, have more patience and more perseverance."

But theatrical costume is a subject for a whole volume, not for a chapter
merely, and I can touch but the fringe of it. I have felt tempted to
dwell upon the past, and endeavour to trace the evolution of the idea of
accurate costume on the stage from the day, perhaps, when the celebrated
Mrs. Mattocks of Covent Garden copied the attire of Rubens's second wife
in Vandyck's picture, so as to appear appropriately as the niece of the
Governor of Bruges, in _The Royal Merchant_, a play adapted from Beaumont
and Fletcher. But, lacking the pen of the historian and the science of
the psychologist, I have chosen the easier and more humble role of the
gossip. Yet, perhaps, the elusive chatter of the actress's dressing-room
may not be without its suggestive value, more vivid, possibly, than
the utterings of the student, for its memories have the fragrance of
yesterday. Before me as I write, secure under glass, together with its
authentic pedigree, is the lace collar that Edmund Kean used to wear
when he played Hamlet; yet it stirs no thrill in me because of Kean, as
old Sir William Gower, in Pinero's _Trelawny of the Wells_, was moved
at sight of the chain Kean wore as Richard, because in his youth he had
seen the great actor. But the mere thought of the soft lawn collar and
cuffs that H. B. Irving wore with his "inky cloak," gold-bordered and
crimson-lined, and his famous father's silver-clasped belt, brings the
latest and not the least accomplished of Hamlets vividly to my mind's
eye. Each tone, gesture, action, falls naturally into a harmony of
memory, because the costume was as appropriate as it was picturesquely
charming--in fact, it was right, which proves the truth of Sir Henry
Irving's doctrine, "You can take it that the right thing on the stage is
at once the most effective and the most becoming." A wise doctrine, which
may be applied with irrefutable truth to the art of costume on and off
the boards--a doctrine which may obtain as guidance through the land of
dress in all the centuries, under all circumstances, past and to come.


THE END


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

       *       *       *       *       *

    +------------------------------------------------------------+
    |                    Transcriber notes:                      |
    |                                                            |
    | P. 50. 'minever' changed to 'miniver' as in 'silk lined    |
    |  with miniver'.                                            |
    | P. 148. 'a a long' changed to 'a long'.                    |
    | P. 227. 'Egytian' changed to 'Egyptian'.                   |
    | Various punctuation corrected.                             |
    |                                                            |
    | Note: The equals sign is used to surround =bold text=;     |
    | underscores to surround _italic text_.                     |
    +------------------------------------------------------------+





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