Sunday, November 18, 2012

17th century Xmas

Christmas is rushing up on us! And it's getting more and more evident not only from fancy decoration in stores, winter cups in Starbucks, but also from HRs mails stating the theme of corporate New Year's parties. Well, here is the trick. While many of us (will) receive something neutral like 'Dress to impress' or 'Stay snowy-white', one of my friends got a task to show up in the christmas outfit inspired by the XVII century. Huh. Exhale.

I love putting different outfits together, but this one really brought me to a standstill. Well, it would be much easier if we talked about Halloween costume... But here... You need to consider the audience:) I bet you might not want to show up in front of your boss dressed as a carnival clown (unless you work for a creative agency and/or your next promotion doesn't really bother you). So, we need to keep TESS! 

I went through some sources, trying to figure out what elegant sophisticated women wore back then. Luckily, there were a multitude of ways to dress, so we definitely can pick up something more or less suitable for the modern times. Briefly, in the XVII century fashion was clearly separated up between 1st and 2nd halves with authentic attributes, marking each part. 

TESS in 1600–1650:
- soft and broad silhouette,
- high waist,
- extremely low, rounded necklines,
- full, slashed sleeves,
- broad lace or linen collars,
- functional ribbon bows,
- tall or broad hats with brims,
- hair worn in a bun at the back of the head with a cluster of curls framing the face.

Have a look at some visual inspirations below!

(1)  Anne of Denmark mourning the loss 
of her son Henry attributed to 
Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, 
1612 (National Portrait Gallery, London) 
(2) Mary Radclyffe by William Larkin, 
1610-1613 (Denver Art Museum)

(3) Anne of Austria by Peter Paul Rubens,
circa 1620-1625 (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

(1) Anne of Denmark wears a black wired cap and black lace.
(2) Mary Radclyffe in the very low rounded neckline and closed cartwheel ruff. The black silk strings on her jewelry were a passing fashion.
(3) Anne of Austria, Queen of France, wears an open bodice over a stomacher and virago sleeves, with a closed ruff. Note looser cuffs. 

TESS in 1650–1700:
- broad, high-waisted silhouette of the previous period was replaced by a long, lean line with a low waist,
- body was tightly corseted, with a low, broad neckline and dropped shoulder,
- sleeves became longer and tighter keeping with the new trend,
- curls were hanging gracefully on the shoulder.

(4) The Concert by Gerard ter Borch, 
1655 (Staatliche Museen, Berlin)
(5) Comtesse Mailly,
(6) Mary of Modena,
(4) Rear view of a Dutch jacket-bodice shows the tabbed skirts and the curved side-back seams.
(5) The Comtesse Mailly shows off a mantua with opulent under-skirt, a bodice with ribbons arranged en echelle, and a Fontanges headdress. The trained skirt is looped back to reveal a petticoat. She wears the short string of pearls that remained fashionable throughout this period.
(6) Mary of Modena wears a dress fastened with jeweled clasps over a simple chemise. Her hair curls over either temple, and long curls hang on her shoulders.

Now... I guess I already hear your questions: 'Pedantic studies of the fashion history are nice, but what should be the real life recommendation and  how actionable it can be assuming all these 'ruff-and-cuff' trends back then?'

So, here you go! My TESS sense found these 3 gorgeous pieces the most appropriate for the Christmas theme of XVII century!! All dresses have fitted silhouettes, luxuriously decorated with lace, have proper length for the corporate party and can be easily enriched with different accessories (elbow-length gloves, fur muff, string of pearls, stand-alone collars etc.) to bring the theme even more to life.

Spoiled Brat
Lace Bodice Feather Dress
TESS here ($ 357)
Lace-detailed Corset Dress
TESS here (€ 1850)
Free People
Vintage Floral and Lace Dress
TESS here ($ 228)

Keep TESSTaste.Elegance.Sophistication.Style!
Your Tess


  1. I love Free People dress!!!Kisses!!xoxo

    1. Veronica, indeed, it is sooo cute!
      The lace trims give it such a nice stylish touch, so it can go almost anywhere!! Love it too!!

      xxx, Tess