English Boys' Clothes: 17th Century

Figure 1.--This illustration shows how an aristocratic English boy might dress during the 1630s. There were no dedicated children's clothing. This boy wore a smaller version of his father's outfits. The upper garment was called a doublet which in this case is well skirted. The upper portion of the double is closed with buttons. Lace and ruffled collars were popular and were sometimes repeated in wrist cuffs. The doublet had a high collar which was covered by the large white band collar. Notice the wing features on the shoulders of the doublet. The doublet sleeves were panned, meaning vent-like features. The lower sleeves were more tightly cut. Most notably you can see how the Renaissance trunk hose have evolove into an early version of knee breeches called cloak bag breeches. The breeches were supported by ribbon points in the doublet. The breeches are much longer than the trunk hose we notice at the turn-of-the 17th century. The breeches were gatghered at the waist, but unlike trunk hose, the breeches are not gatheered at the knee or higher on the leg. There is decorative use of ribbons and and rosettes at the leg hem and shoes. This boy has closed-sided shoes, but we still see open-sides shoes in the 1630s. The illustration is based on Van Dyke's work. Illustrator: Saber Alexander McConnell.

The 17th century is when modern male fashion began to evolve. Styles at the beginning of the century look very dated, men did not even wears garments regonizablee as pants and trousers. They wore the trunk hose that were the principal male garment in the 16th century. By the end of the decade we see recognizable jackets and trousers. The jackets were long and the trousers knee breeches, but they were clearly recignizeable jackets and trousers, the main stays of what became modern dress. There were no destinctive children's clothing. Younger boys might wear dresses. After breeching, boys wore small versions of the clothes their fathers wore. At the time, social class was more a determinant of clothing than natiionality. The aristocracy throughout Western and central Europe wore very similar syles, often set in Italy and France. We see a variety of ornate styles and decorative trim and luxurios fabrics. Clothing was influenced by the developing social and religious divide in English society. The Church of England was the most Catholic of all the the Protestant sects. Dissenters wanted to take the COE much further down the Protestant path. The so called Puritrans believed in dressing more plainly, often in back and white. From this group came the Pilgrims who settled New Enhland as well as the Roundheads who would fight thre Crown and much of the aristocracy in the Civil War. We still see some of the earlier fashions at the beginning of the century such as doublets and hose, often called trunk hose. This was s pants-like garments done as balooning garments that only came to mid-thigh or higher and worn with long stockings covering the leg. The trunk hose were very common in the 16th centurty, but in the early-17th century first began to increase in length and then evolved into breeches which by the end of the century began to look like the knee breeches commonly worn in the 18th century. This evolution occurred with both the clothing worn by adults and boys. The clothing of the aristocracy is much better represented in the available art work than that of the lower classes.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the main English chronology page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 8:40 AM 11/23/2011
Last updated: 8:40 AM 11/23/2011