Men’s shirts were truly fashionable during the Baroque, it became a garment that could be worn on its own. In fact, in the first half of 1600 shirts were made with many different fabrics, using different kinds of embellishments, such as embroideries and lace applications to make them stand out. Baroque shirts for women were often embroidered with numerous different stitches and collars were embellished with gold thread. In the meanwhile in men’s fashion, the first versions of men’s suit were created: a linen shirt with large sleeves and lace ruff collar under an open doublet.
France and shirts, l’habit a la francaise
During the Baroque period, France exported the most beautiful laces in all of Europe, setting the priciples of men’s and women’s fashion and elegance. The Baroque shirts and fashion were enriched by the famous silks of Lyon and the sleeves of the shirts became longer and longer, which made them a desired and expensive ornament. Once ties started to make part of men’s elegant clothing, also the men’s shirt collar changed its shape, becoming a flap on which the tie would be wrapped around with one or more times.
The English style fashion during the Baroque
In the second half of 1700 the gorgeous French clothes gave space to British fashion: although colors and fabrics still played an important role, people were looking for more comfortable clothing that would be suitable for increasingly dynamic lifestyle. The Baroque fashion followed the social and historical changes, adapting to the new ways of living. And then, with the first French revolution things were to be changed again.
Shirt and hygiene, invention of soap
Alongside the refined fabrics, ornaments and embellishments, the history of shirts still remains tied to hygiene issues. Also during XVII and XVIII centuries, shirts had the function to protect the expensive and precious fabrics of outerwear from sweat and dirt of the skin. However, the invention of soap helped to resolve these problems. In fact, from the beginning of eighteenth century people started to take better care of their personal hygiene and so, also shirts were washed more often.
The Baroque period saw shirts become elegant and graceful garments that will influence the style of Rococo, of which we will write in the next post on the history of shirts.