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A Fashionable Vocabulary: Clothing and Fabrics

The jeweled roll at the front of your French hood is called a billiment.

A necklace is commonly called a carcanet (KAR-ka-net) before about 1575, when the word necklace comes into use.

Gardes or welts are ornamental bands, often edging a gown or forepart, but also used as strips of trim.

Needlelace Lace is a general term for all kinds of trims and braids, as well as cords or points to fasten a garment.

Lucerne is lynx fur. Other furs are marten, sable, and so on.

Cloth of gold is gold metal thread woven on a linen or silk warp, and may come in colors, especially crimson or violet, depending on the color of the warp thread.

Pinks and cuttes are small, decorative cuts on the fabric. Slashes are larger, and may have the lining pulled through.

When a fabric is described as printed, the design has been stamped with hot irons.

The light weight silk you lined your slashes with is probably sarcenet (sar-sa-nett); so called because it was understood to have originated with the Saracens.

Your gold trim is really silver-gilt thread or Venice gold. Your good glass pearls are Venice or Venetian pearls. (You wouldn't wear the natural ones on Progress, now would you? Of course not.)

We go brave in our apparel that we may be taken for better men than we be. We use much bombastings and quiltings to seem fitter formed, better shouldered, smaller waisted, fuller thighed than we are. We barbe and shave often to seem younger than we are. We use perfumes both inward and outward to seem sweeter than we be. We use courteous salutations to seem kinder than we are; and sometimes graver and Godlier communications to seem wiser than we be.
      — Sir John Harrington

You might tell an interested party that your very fine, sheer cotton chemise is made of lawn (a very fine linen). Those of China silk (habotai) are probably of cypress.

Changeable taffeta can also be called shot silk. What they called taffeta was a much different fabric.

Merchant class women (citizens' or burggesses' wives) do not always wear a bumroll and seldom wear a farthingale. See drawings by Lucas de Heere and the "Wedding at Bermondsey" painting for examples.

All kinds of pants (slops or venetians, etc.) are called hose, specifically trunk hose, because they cover the trunk of the body.

A better, less vulgar, term for slops is round paned hose.

Hose that cover the lower part of the leg are called nether hose or nether stocks.

::  More Fashionable Vocabulary
::  Patronage: Retinue, Companions, & Livery
::  Shopping in London
::  Random Bits & Pieces

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26 March 2008 mps