Dressing Charles II : The King’s Clothing Choices (1660–85)
Dressing Charles II : The King’s Clothing Choices (1660-85) - As a young man, Charles II experienced civil war and the abolition of the English monarchy, which resulted in his exile. While his time in Europe would have exposed him to a variety of styles of clothing, he would also have developed ideas about how a king of England should dress. The research presented here draws upon the accounts of Charles II’s wardrobe of the robes. The accounts have been analysed to provide insights into the composition of the king’s clothing orders during the course of his reign. The discussion has focused on four themes : tradition and innovation, formality and informality. This information is set in context by reviewing who held the office of the king’s tailor, the work they carried out and the ways in which the king’s clothes were used as means of facilitating royal patronage.
PlanTop of page
1Hieronymous Janssens’ 1660 painting Charles II Dancing at a Ball at Court depicts Charles II with his sister Mary shortly before the restoration of the monarchy (fig. 1).
Fig. 1 - Hieronymus Janssens, Charles II Dancing at a Ball at Court, c. 1660, oil on canvas : 140 × 214 cm. London, The Royal Collection, RCIN 00525.
- 2 For male dress in this period, see C. Willett Cunnington and Phillis Cunnington, Handbook of Engli (...)
2He was dressed in a black suit consisting of a highly fashionable, short-waisted doublet and petticoat breeches trimmed with scarlet ribbons. However, by the end of Charles II’s reign male dress in England (and indeed the rest of Northern Europe) had undergone a significant change, having made the transition from the doublet and hose of the type depicted in Janssens’ painting, to the coat, vest and breeches, the forerunner of the modern male three-piece suit. An example of the latter can be seen in later portraits, such as John Rose, the Royal Gardener, Presenting a Pineapple to King Charles II, after Hendrik Danckerts (fig. 2)2. These two portraits demonstrate the changing taste in clothing that Charles II experienced. This essay aims to consider what the key influences on his clothing choices were, how they manifested themselves in his wardrobe and on what occasions.
Fig. 2 - Thomas Hewart after Hendrik Danckerts, John Rose, the Royal Gardener, Presenting a Pineapple to King Charles II, c. 1676, oil on canvas : 113 × 120 cm. London, The National Trust, Ham House and Gardens, inv. 1139824.
- 3 For Charles I’s clothes, see Roy Strong, ‘Charles I’s Clothes for the Years 1633 to 1635’, Costume(...)
- 4 See Christopher Breward, The Culture of Fashion : A New History of Fashionable Dress, Manchester/N (...)
- 5 Anna Keay, The Magnificent Monarch : Charles II and the Ceremonies of Power, London, Continuum, 20 (...)
- 6 See Maria Hayward, ‘Going Dutch ? How Far Did Charles II’s Exile in the Netherlands Shape his Ward (...)
- 7 For Charles II’s itinerary see Katherine M. B. Gibson, Best Belov’d of Kings : The Iconography of (...)
- 8 Neil Cuddy, ‘Reinventing a Monarchy : The Changing Structure and Political Function of the Stuart (...)
3Three key cultural factors impacted on how Charles II thought about his clothes. Firstly was the influence of his parents. The accession of James I in 1603 saw the union of England and Scotland although the parliaments remained until 1707. While technically British, Charles II, like his father before him, was crowned as the king of England and Scotland on separate occasions and Charles II’s titles referred to him as being king of England, Scotland and Ireland. Charles II was brought up as his father’s heir and dressed in his father’s image in an elegant court3. His French mother, Henrietta Maria, brought Parisian taste to the English court when she married Charles I in 1625 and having fled England in 1644, she returned to the country briefly when her son was made king in 16604. The influence of French court culture can be seen in various aspects of Charles II’s reign but probably most significant in this context was the adoption of the royal lever and coucher or the dressing and undressing of the king5. Secondly, during his fourteen years in exile from 1646 to 1660, Charles II lived as an itinerant, often unwanted visitor who was frequently short of money, clothes and friends and who must have doubted at times that he would ever return to England or that he would ever be king6. He experienced court life in France, Scotland, the Spanish Netherlands and the United Provinces, as well as a number of cities in the Holy Roman Empire including Aachen, Cologne and Spa7. As such he would have had a cosmopolitan view of clothes and court culture but also a view that was strongly influenced in favour of French fashion and taste in clothing. Thirdly, the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660 saw the revival of the royal household and royal ceremonial but it was not a complete return to how things had been at his father’s court prior to the civil war (1641-51)8.
4This essay will consider how these three influences combined to affect the composition of the king’s clothing orders during the course of his reign and it will do so by considering four different themes : tradition and innovation, formality and informality. However, it will begin by assessing the role of the king’s tailors in shaping his appearance.
- 9 For his seamstresses see Patricia Wardle, ‘Divers Necessaries for His Majesty’s Use and Service : (...)
5Annual orders were placed by the yeoman of the robes for the king’s clothes with the Great Wardrobe, a sub-department of the king’s household that bought silks and linens in bulk for royal use. Here the king’s tailor made his outer garments, while his seamstress made his shirts, nightshirts and other linen items9. The king’s image was created by the monarch in combination with his tailors, embroiderers, pinkers and a large range of specialist craftsmen and suppliers. Out of this group, his tailors, namely Claude Sourceau and John Allen working in partnership from 1660 and then Sourceau alone (1671), followed by William Watt (from 1672) and then Robert Graham (from 1678), were the most influential.
- 10 Charles II, My Dearest Minette : Letters Between Charles II and his Sister the Duchesse d’Orléans, (...)
6Of these men, Sourceau was the most significant. In part this was because he was in the king’s service for the longest time and so knew his taste very well. This Parisian tailor first worked for Charles II while he was in exile in France in the late 1640s and continued to serve him for a decade once he became king. For instance, on 29 April 1660 Charles II wrote to Minette from Breda noting that ‘I have sent to Gentseau [Sourceau] to order some summer clothes, and I have told him to take the ribbons to you, for you to choose the trimmings and feathers’10. Sourceau would have been able to tell Charles II about Paris fashions, while his partnership with Englishman John Allen from 1660 ensured that a network of suppliers and craftsmen, some of whom had been in exile with the king or had served his father, were involved in the production of the new king’s wardrobe.
- 11 This is similar to the level of orders placed by his father : in 1633-34 Charles I ordered thirty- (...)
- 12 Kew, TNA AO3/912, p. 51.
- 13 Kew, TNA, AO3/917, fol. 17v.
7On average Charles II ordered between thirty and forty new suits, single garments or other sets of garments per year but his tailors also undertook some repairs and alterations11. For example in 1663-64 Sourceau and Allen were paid 24s for changing the garniture of four serviceable suits, 30s for stitching buttons onto six knitted waistcoats and 16s for altering the linings of two cloaks12. In 1668 when a cloak evidently did not meet the king’s requirements, they were required to take the lining out and put it back in again13.
- 14 Samuel Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, ed by. R. Latham and W. Matthews, London, G. Bell and Son (...)
- 15 Kew, TNA, LC5/41, fol. 13r.
- 16 Ibid., fol. 10r.
8The king’s clothes had a social value and a financial value. Consequently, his clothes made valuable perquisites. The diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) provided an insight into this process in his diary when he described how the grooms of the bedchamber took ‘away the King’s linen at the Quarter’s end, as their fees’14. This resulted in the officers of the wardrobe of the robes having to cope with a shortage of the king’s body linen. The need to replace the king’s linen annually was also very expensive. In 1672 Dorothy Chiffinch charged £ 30 3s for making eighteen day shirts, eighteen night shirts and eighteen half shirts, six caps and four dozen pocket handkerchiefs for the king15. To do so she made use of a percentage of the 437½ ells of Holland supplied by Benjamin Shute, linen draper, to make six pairs of sheets, twelve pillow beres, eighteen day shirts, eighteen night shirts, eighteen half shirts, six night caps ‘for our person for the half year ended at Michelmas 1672’ (£ 245 19s 6d), six pieces of cambric for pocket handkerchiefs (£ 18) and six yards of fine muslin to renew bands and make cravats (£ 3 6s)16. While the regular replacement of the king’s linen placed a strain on his finances, it also ensured traditional court patronage continued to operate and this was an important part of court life.
- 17 Quoted in Lorraine Madway, ‘The Most Conspicuous Solemnity : The Coronation of Charles II’, in The (...)
- 18 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 16.
- 19 These suits are discussed further later in the essay.
9Charles II experienced court ceremonial during his father’s reign and while he was in exile and he was well aware of its value in affirming the place of the monarchy. His coronation was the most significant of these events (fig. 3). Sir Edward Hyde noted that ‘his Majesty had directed the Records and old Formularies should be examined ... and all Forms accustomed to be used, that might add Lustre and Splendour to the Solemnity’17. Not surprisingly Charles II’s first wardrobe account included orders for his coronation robes which echoed those worn by his Stuart predecessors and so served to demonstrate the legitimacy of his right to rule. These robes were of purple velvet lined with powdered ermine and laced with embroidered gold lace. They were worn with a crimson satin waistcoat and drawers ‘opened before and behind for the anointing’ which had been cut from ‘a calico waistcoat and drawers for the pattern of his majesty’s anointing suit’18. These highly traditional garments, which helped to assert Charles II’s right to rule and the legitimacy of the English monarchy, contrast with the three suits that he ordered in Paris for his coronation which were the height of French fashion19.
Fig. 3 - John Michael Wright, Charles II, c. 1661-66, oil on canvas : 281.9 × 239.2 cm. London, The Royal Collection, RCIN 404951.
- 20 For example, in 1671 Abraham, sergeant skinner, was paid £ 13 6s 8d for ‘beating and airing our co (...)
- 21 Charles II, The Letters, Speeches and Declarations of King Charles II, ed. by A. Bryant, London, C (...)
- 22 Ibid.
- 23 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 75 and AO3/931, p. 56.
10Just as the coronation was essential for marking the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II’s relationship with Parliament was central to his return to England as her king and this relationship was expressed visually with his parliament robes of crimson velvet lined with miniver. Their significance was reflected by the annual payment made to the king’s skinner for the maintenance and perfuming of his parliament robes20. However, the king’s relationship with Parliament was not always a comfortable one. Shortly after his accession, Charles II addressed Parliament on 29 August 1660 and stated ‘I am not richer, that is, I have not so much money in my purse, as when I came to you. The truth is, I have lived principally ever since upon what I brought with me’21. As a result, Parliament granted him £ 1,200,000 per annum but there was usually a deficit of around £ 400,000 a year22. To put this in context, the officers of the wardrobe of the robes spent £ 15,623 11s 5d in 1660–62 (the first account) and £ 7,374 9s 0d in 1685 (the last account) on the king’s clothes23. While the annual figure did vary, taking an average expenditure of £ 7,500 per annum, this represented approximately 0.06 % of his allocated or approximately 0.9 % of his actual annual income.
- 24 Charles II’s effigy is dressed in the robes of the Order of the Garter. Harvey and Mortimer consid (...)
- 25 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 11.
- 26 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 46.
11Most significant in relation to Charles II’s wish to emphasise the traditional aspects of his kingship, was his re-establishment of the Order of the Garter, the English order of chivalry24. The importance that he attached to the robes associated with the garter can be seen in several of his portraits including a full-length image by Peter Lely (c. 1675). ‘His majesty’s St. Georges robes’ were made for him shortly after his accession to the traditional pattern. Sourceau and Allen were paid £ 30 ‘for making his majesty’s St. Georges robes with all their furniture and for attending at Windsor’ (potentially to make any last minute adjustments or alterations prior to the garter feast) and a further £ 4 10s for ‘a white satin suit for the installment’25. They also made three pairs of satin breeches for patterns for his majesty’s St. George’s day suits26.
- 27 Elias Ashmole, The Institutions, Laws and Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, London (...)
- 28 Valerie Cumming, Royal Dress : The Image and Reality, 1580 to the Present Day, London, Batsford, 1 (...)
12Charles II was determined that the suit worn with the garter robes should be backward-looking in style. So in April 1661 he opted for a return to ‘the old trunk hose or round breeches, whereof the Stuff or Material shall be some such Cloth of Silver, as we shall chuse and appoint, wherein as we shall be to them an example, so we do expect that they will follow us in using the same and no other’27. While trunk hose were evocative of fashions worn in the second half of the sixteenth century, this interest in styles from the past not only served to stress the history of the Order of the Garter, it also actively moved away from current fashions which were constantly changing. In addition, it also drew parallels with the style and fabric of the doublet and hose selected by his cousin Louis XIV of France to be worn under the mantle of the French Order of the Saint-Esprit28.
- 29 A. Keay, The Magnificent Monarch…, op. cit., p. 72.
- 30 London, British Library (hereafter BL), Harley MS 6271, fol. 2r.
- 31 London, BL, Harley MS 6271, fol. 20r.
13During his exile Charles II had no regalia, the classic symbols of kingship, and so he made use of the one thing he did have – his garter regalia29. This may well explain his continued devotion to the order after the Restoration. While Charles II only wore his garter robes for the feast days of the order, he demonstrated his loyalty to the order by having the embroidered garter badge placed on the sleeve of all his coats and on his cloaks. For instance in the account for 1678-79, Robert Graham was paid 50s for making a light-coloured stuff coat and breeches, the coat lined with pinked lutestring, the waistcoat of the same trimmed with purple, gold and silver ribbon, while William Rutlish and George Pinkney received 35s for embroidering the coat order30. He also placed regular orders for silk ribbon to hang his lesser George on. In the accounts for 1678-79 Richard Cartwright, hosier, supplied nine pieces of George ribbon at a cost of £ 5431.
- 32 A. Keay, The Magnificent Monarch…, op. cit., p. 177-180, 70-71. The Maundy ceremony gradually beca (...)
- 33 Kew, TNA, AO3/911, p. 57.
- 34 N. Cuddy, art. cit., p. 70.
14Other significant days at court associated with the ceremonial cycle were celebrated by the king including Maundy Thursday during the 1660s or the days when the king touched ‘for the king’s evil’32. The king’s clothing accounts make no specific mention of special clothing being made for the king for these occasions, but as these were formal court occasions attended by visiting ambassadors, Charles II would most likely have selected silk garments with embroidered and applied decoration from his wardrobe. In contrast, the king’s observation of St. David’s day required the king’s embroiderer to make leeks for the key members of the royal family. In 1662-63, Edmund Harrison, made two ‘rich leeks embroidered with pearls, gold and coloured silk for the king and queen’, along with smaller, less ornate versions for the Queen Mother, the duke and duchess of York, the duke of York’s daughter, Prince Rupert and Prince Edward, the duke of Monmouth and the Lord Chancellor, at a cost of £ 13 7s 4d33. As such, certain aspects of court ceremonial were important to Charles II and he took care to exploit the clothing traditionally associated with key events to re-create a sense of the authority of the monarchy. However, his reign also witnessed changes in approach to court ceremonial. Less importance was attached to ceremonial at court and members of the court formed more links with the entertainments in London34. So tradition was important for key events such as the coronation and ceremonies associated with the opening of Parliament but it was allowed to slip to fit with a new image of the English monarch that suited the political climate after the Restoration.
- 35 See Charles I, 1631, by Daniel Mytens, National Portrait Gallery, London ; illustrated in V. Cummi (...)
- 36 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 16.
15While Charles II looked to the past for inspiration in some areas of his wardrobe, changing fashions ensured that his court inevitably looked quite different from that of his father. Charles I had favoured doublets with full sleeves, a waistline that pointed down at the centre front with long tabs, which were worn with fairly full breeches, while his son wore a short doublet and petticoat breeches and gradually moved to a coat, waistcoat and breeches35. While satin had been the fabric of choice at his father’s court, it hardly featured in Charles II’s wardrobe : he bought just one satin ‘suit’ in the first six years of his reign and this was the crimson satin waistcoat and breeches that he wore when he was anointed at his coronation36. Instead Charles II favoured cloth, camlet (both silk and wool camlets) and silk velvet for his suits and coats, with striped, flowered and brocaded silks for his waistcoats. As such, many of these developments can be interpreted as being novel changes. However, most of these changes were small and gradual.
- 37 John Evelyn, The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. by E. S. de Beer, London, Oxford University Press, 1959 (...)
- 38 S. Pepys, The Diary…, op. cit., VII, p. 328.
16In contrast, the most frequently discussed innovation in dress that Charles II has been associated with was his decision to reject French fashion and to create a specifically English style – the vest – a fashion that Charles II stated he would ‘never alter’37. Pepys described how the king adopted this style in 1666 when he noted in his diary on 17 October that ‘The Court is all full of vests ; only, my Lord St. Albans not pinked, but plain black – and they say the King says the pinking upon white makes them look too much like magpyes, and therefore hath bespoke one of plain velvet’38. Pinking comprised small cuts or holes, often in geometric patterns, cut in the top fabric of outer garments. More detail was supplied by the writer and diarist John Evelyn (1620–1706) who noted on 18 October :
- 39 J. Evelyn, The Diary…, op. cit., p. 501.
thence to Court, it being the first time of his Majesties putting himselfe solemnly into the Eastern fashion of Vest, changing doublet, stiff Collar & Cloake & ; into a comely Vest, after the Persian mode with girdle or shash, & Shoe strings & Garters, into bouckles, of which some were set with precious stones, resolving never to alter it39.
- 40 E. S. De Beer, art. cit., p. 108
17While Evelyn’s description was fuller than that of Pepys, the references to the vest being Persian in style are rather misleading40.
- 41 Kew, TNA, AO3/915, p. 35.
- 42 Ibid., p. 39.
- 43 For example, Kew, TNA, AO3/919, p. 5.
- 44 John Evelyn, Tyrannus or the Mode, ed. by J. L. Nevinson, Oxford, Basil Blackwell for the Luttrell (...)
- 45 E. S. de Beer, art. cit., p. 114-15.
18Orders for vests first appeared in the account for 1666-67 and they confirm the comments made by Pepys. A couple of vests were pinked as in the case of ‘a purple cloth coat and hose and the vest cut upon white taffeta with a purple garniture’41. However, most were made of the same fabric as the rest of the suit, a contrasting and more expensive cloth such as a flowered brocade or heavily embellished. For instance, a black velvet coat lined with tabby and a coloured cloth vest and hose trimmed with gold buttons, the garniture of scarlet ribbons42. Orders for vests continued to appear in the accounts until 1670 but after this, items described as waistcoats started to appear again43. However, one question that the accounts do not address is how innovative this development was. Certainly the wish to be less reliant on French styles was not new. John Evelyn had written his pamphlet Tyrranus or the Mode five years earlier in 1661 in which he criticised the English fondness for French fashion. While he began by stating ‘I will not reproch the French for their fruitful Invention’, he went on to state his surprise at the English interest in anything French ‘of whom they speak with so little kindnesse’44. In spite of writers such as Evelyn, later researchers have questioned whether the vest was an original idea ; a range of suggestions have been put forward including that it was influenced by Netherlandish or French styles in spite of Charles II’s protestations45. In light of the short-lived nature of the ‘English’ vest, what was most important for Charles II was that he was able to claim a break with French style and influence at a time when the relationship between the two countries was strained.
- 46 Charles II, My Dearest Minette…, op. cit., p. 160.
- 47 Ibid., p. 167.
- 48 Philip Mansel, Dressed to Rule : Royal and Court Costume from Louis XIV to Elizabeth II, London/Ne (...)
19Even so, the ongoing influence of his French relatives can be demonstrated by reference to two letters sent by Charles II to his sister Minette. On 14 September 1668 he informed her ‘At my return from Portsmouth, I found two of yours, one by the post and the other by Mr Lambert, with the gloves, for which I thank you extremely. They are as good as is possible to smell’46. Three months later in December he wrote to her again asking ‘I beg your pardon for forgetting, in my last, to thanke you for the petticote you sent me, ’tis the finest I ever saw, and thanke you a thousand times for it’47. As these letters indicate, Charles II reverted to styles derived from the French court for his suits in the 1670s but his accounts show that he continued to favour English wools including Norwich stuffs. This can be seen to link to petitions made by the Weavers Company in 1673 and 1675 that resulted in a royal proclamation stipulating that Charles II would ‘henceforth wear none but English manufactures except linen and calico’ and that no subject wearing foreign lace could appear in the king’s presence48.
- 49 S. Pepys, The Diary…, op. cit., III, p. 298.
- 50 Kew, TNA, AO3/911.
20In December 1662 Pepys recorded that he was ‘in great pain that [his] wife hath never a winter gowne, being almost ashamed of it that should be seen in a taffeta one when all the rest wears Moyre’49. While Pepys was evidently aware of how fashions changed with the seasons, it is much harder to get a sense of how the seasons affected the king’s clothing choices. The chief reason for this is that while the accounts ordering the king’s clothes list the items that were made for him, there are no dates to indicate when the garments were made. Although, some accounts were split in half, running for half a year up to the feast of St. Michael (Michaelmas or 29 September), and then the second half running until the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin (25 March), not all were. In the account for 1662-63, it is not easy to distinguish a marked difference between the clothes ordered in the first half of the account (or spring to autumn) and the second half (autumn to spring)50. Charles ordered equal numbers of items in mohair for both seasons, possibly because of the vagaries of the British climate. He did, however, order more silk items for the summer period and more cloth and velvet for the winter period. As such it is possible to see the influence of fashionable innovations in various aspects of the king’s wardrobe and it was a topic that he could exploit to his own ends on occasion.
- 51 London, Victoria and Albert Museum, T.711.1-1995 ; Avril Hart and Susan North, Historical Fashion (...)
- 52 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 12.
- 53 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 35. Sourceau and Allen were paid £ 15 for making this suit, while they rec (...)
21The suits selected for formal court occasions such as Charles II’s coronation, his wedding or for mourning for family members or members of European royalty were the most costly and ornate of the pieces in the king’s wardrobe. Unfortunately, none of the king’s own clothing for everyday wear has survived. However, the fine wool suit, originally consisting of a coat, waistcoat (now missing) and knee breeches, that was worn by Charles II’s younger brother James, duke of York, for his second marriage to Mary of Modena in 1673 gives a good sense of the type of clothes favoured for formal occasions. The coat was embroidered in silver and silver gilt thread in a floral and foliate design and this heavy use of embroidery was typical of many of the garments that Charles II ordered for his coronation and his wedding51. For example, he ordered five suits specially from Paris for his coronation including ‘a very rich suit made in France embroidered with gold and silver, the cloak, breeches and doublet all covered’ that cost £ 48952. In a similar vein, he ordered three suits ‘at the queen’s coming into England’ for their first meeting and their marriage including ‘a hair coloured tabby suit and cloak being first covered with bars of white silk and laced with Flanders lace of the same colour and embroidered with silk, the doublet being slashed’53.
- 54 S. Pepys, The Diary…, op. cit., II, p. 82.
- 55 C. Breward, The Culture of Fashion…, op. cit., p. 83.
- 56 Kew, TNA, AO3/912, p. 50.
- 57 Kew, TNA, AO3/931, p. 18.
22The quality and cost of the king’s coronation clothes and those of his supporters was central to their ability to justify the restoration of the monarchy and to assert Charles II’s right to rule. Pepys made this very clear when he wrote that ‘it is impossible to relate the glory of this day – expressed in the clothes of them that rid – and their horses and horse-cloths. Among others, my Lord Sandwich. Imbroidery and diamonds were ordinary among them... The King, in a most rich imbrodered suit and cloak, looked most nobly’54. Ornate items of this type in the king’s wardrobe would be the garments that were selected for formal events at court such as receiving ambassadors. A number of the suits ordered by Charles II in the 1660s and 1670s were embellished with embroidery and ribbon while in the 1680s large numbers of buttons and frogging became the desirable form of decoration55. All of these decorative techniques added significantly to the cost. For example, in 1663-64 while Sourceau and Allen were paid 36s for making a scarlet camlet coat that was ‘richly embroidered with gold and silver and garnished with a small gold and silver lace’, George Pinckney received £ 70 for embroidering the coat56. In 1685 Robert Graham received 50s for making a coat and breeches of fine dark drugget, lined with mantua, and a waistcoat of yellow, purple and silver Indian silk that were finished with 14 dozen pirl campaign buttons (£ 5 12s), 14 dozen breast buttons (56s) and silver thread to make the button holes (35s)57. Cost would have been one of the markers of the suitability of certain items for state occasions.
- 58 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 71.
23Formal dress also required the wearer to carry a sword and this was made clear in the wardrobe account for 1660-62. Charles II received twelve new swords including a mourning sword (50s), a damasked and chased sword (£ 9) and a silver sword with a Spanish blade (£ 10)58. As a result he had a suitable sword for different social occasions. Equally, he adopted a wig when they became fashionable and these too came in a range of styles. Ever the follower of court fashion, Pepys wore his periwig for the first time on 3 September 1665.
- 59 The Reception of the Prince de Ligne, c. 1660, by Gillis van Tilborch, Royal Collection ; illustra (...)
- 60 Kew, TNA, AO3/912, p. 47.
- 61 Kew, TNA, AO3/918, fol. 31v.
- 62 Kew, TNA, AO3/918, fols. 32rv.
24Charles II suffered a number of family bereavements during his reign and he was also required to wear mourning when important members of European royalty died. Consequently, he placed regular orders for mourning. Mourning was a central part of court life and in 1660 Gillis van Tilborch painted Charles II dressed in mourning for the reception of the prince de Ligne, who came to England as the Spanish ambassador shortly after the death of Charles II’s youngest brother prince Henry, duke of Gloucester59. Royal mourning was formal in its nature : both in terms of the types of fabrics used and since it was one of the few occasions that the king wore purple. In the account for 1663-64 an order was placed for three purple cloth suits, two coats and one long cloak, mourning for the duchess of Savoy60. In 1669, two coats, a vest and breeches of purple cloth with a garniture of purple crepe were made for the king to wear while in mourning for Henrietta Maria, the Queen Mother of England61. These were supplemented with a coat, two vests and breeches of purple cloth trimmed with purple crepe and a riding cloak and a riding coat of purple camlet with purple buttons62.
- 63 Lorenzo Magalotti, Travels of Cosmo the Third, Grand Duke of Tuscany, through England, During the (...)
25Informality in dress was an important element of Charles II’s personal appearance and it reflected in the relaxed style of many aspects of his court. According to Count Lorenzo Magalotti, the king and his brother James, duke of York, often spent time in the queen’s apartments ‘seeking relief from more weighty cares, and divesting themselves awhile of the restraint of royalty […] they make themselves familiar with every one, talking indifferently both to the public ministers and the private gentlemen […]’63. Part of appearing like a private gentleman was adopting a style of dress suited to a private individual. This attitude was demonstrated in the portrait of the king with his gardener, John Rose. Charles II, like his gardener, was dressed in a loose fitting coat with buttoned cuffs and pockets and petticoat breeches of a dark colour – he often chose dark colours for his private clothing. Indeed his accounts indicate a strong preference for grey, black and ‘sad colour’ for most of his clothing along with other muted shades which featured far less often but were part of the same group : ranging from brown-grey, buff, cinnamon and dove to musk, nut, pearl and sand.
- 64 S. Pepys, The Diary…, op. cit., I, p. 155.
- 65 Kew, TNA, AO3/912, p. 11, 14-16.
- 66 S. Pepys, The Diary…, II, p. 157-58 ; L. Magalotti, Travels of Cosmo the Third…, op. cit., p. 207.
26Charles II’s preference for informality in his dress and in how his court was run has been linked to his time in exile when he was short of clothes and moved from court to court and also his time after the battle of Worcester when he had to dress as a servant to escape the parliamentary troops searching for him. The king described to Pepys how he travelled ‘every step up to the knees in dirt, with nothing but a green coat and a pair of country breeches on, and a pair of country shoes, that made him so sore all over his feet that he could scarce stir’64. While the king’s clothes might never be this basic again, many of the items ordered by the king were very simple in terms of their cut and plain in terms of fabric choice, level of decoration and colour. For example in 1663-64 the sets of clothes supplied by Sourceau and Allen included a grey farrandine suit and coat lined with tabby, a sad colour serge de soy suit and coat, a grey French drugget suit and coat, a tabby doublet with Spanish hose and a grey stuff suit and coat with a tabby doublet and Spanish breeches65. In 1661 Pepys described Charles II’s preferred everyday wear as ‘a plain common riding-suit and velvet capp’, adding that ‘he seemed a very ordinary man to one that had not known him’ and in 1669 Magalotti described Charles II at Newmarket ‘in a plain and simple country dress, without any finery, but wearing the badges of the order of St. George and of the Garter’66.
- 67 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 10.
- 68 For example, in 1633-34 Charles I ordered two tennis suits and three riding coats and in 1634-35 h (...)
- 69 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 23-24, 28.
- 70 London, BL, Harley 6271, fol. 6r.
- 71 Kew, TNA, AO3/918, p. 33.
27Charles II spent quite a lot of his time engaged in sporting activities including riding, racing, walking, tennis and sailing. He ordered clothes that were specifically intended for a number of these activities and these garments were meant to be functional. He placed regular orders for coats, cloaks and suits for riding, such as ‘a riding suit and coat of black Holland camlet lined with tabby’ that was supplied with ‘a pair of walking breeches’ along with orders for black velvet caps for riding in67. Like his father, he enjoyed playing tennis and he ordered special tennis suits on a regular basis.68 His first account for 1660–62 listed eight tennis suits : two of barmillion, two of Holland and four that were decorated with bone lace69. Not all of his orders were quite as glamorous : the account for 1678–79 included a pair of tennis drawers70. While in exile he also came to appreciate the joys of yachting and he continued to be a keen sailor after the Restoration but he did not order special clothes for this activity. However, he appears to have gone swimming often enough to require special clothing because in 1669 Sourceau and Allen made him a pair of swimming drawers71.
- 72 Kew, TNA, AO3/911, p. 52-53, 58.
- 73 Kew, TNA, AO3/929, p. 20.
28Some of the king’s clothing, while well made from high quality materials, were fairly basic in their cut and construction. These were his underclothes and garments that were worn for warmth and comfort rather than glamour or prestige. For instance, in 1661-62, his orders included six pairs of Holland ‘trowses’, two barmillion waistcoats, four Holland waistcoats and 48 worsted socks72. Others were intended to protect more expensive garments from getting dirty such as ‘a flannel coat to come over an embroidered coat’ in 1681-8273.
- 74 A. Ribeiro, Fashion and Fiction…, op. cit., p. 216.
- 75 See the miniature nightgown made for Lord Clapham in the style of the 1670s (London, Victoria and (...)
- 76 London, BL, Harley MS 6271, fol. 21r. They were inspired by the Japanese kimono and were brought t (...)
- 77 London, BL, Harley MS 6271, fol. 19v.
- 78 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 41.
- 79 Kew, TNA, AO3/915, pp. 6, 14.
29Daniel Defoe described his reign as ‘Lazy, Long, Lascivious’ and so it is perhaps not surprising that the nightgowns or Indian gowns that were associated with relaxation and informality played an important part in Charles II’s wardrobe throughout his reign74. These nightgowns were loose fitting, long, without a waist and they often had a padded, quilted lining75. Charles II ordered the nightgowns from a range of suppliers throughout his reign including Robert Crofts who was referred to in 1678-79 as his ‘Indian gown man’76. He usually wore a nightgown with a white satin nightcap, ordering nightcaps in bulk each year. For example, in 1678-79 William Terry was paid 45s for making fifteen nightcaps77. His first nightgown of flowered, sad colour uncut velvet was ordered in 1660-62 and nightgowns were ordered on a regular basis thereafter78. The simple, T-shaped cut was well suited to showing off the expensive, patterned silk that they were made from : for instance in 1666-67 Charles II received a ‘flowered and wrought Venetian night gown lined with pink and white taffeta’ and another of striped silk stuff lined with sky coloured sarsenet and padded with silk wadding79. Other nightgowns were lined with sable for warmth and an added air of opulence. In short, clothing worn by the king in private could be both expensive and designed to impress.
- 80 A. Keay, The Magnificent Monarch…, op. cit., p. 128, 172, 188, 194-197.
- 81 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 41.
- 82 Kew, TNA, AO3/913, p. 50.
- 83 Kew, TNA, LC5/41, fol. 13r.
30These qualities made the nightgown suited for use as the king’s rising and retiring or to use the French terms – the lever and the coucher – which provided the opportunity for courtiers to gain access to the king twice a day while he dressed and undressed.80 The role of the nightgown in this process was alluded to in the wardrobe account for 1660-62 which recorded an entry for ‘a flowered velvet night gown or chamber robe’81. Charles II’s reign saw the rise in importance of the king’s bedchamber as the centre of politics, the space that was synonymous with where the king would wear his nightgown. Other expensive items were made specially for use in this space too, including the ‘crimson velvet toilet and night bag of the same for his majesty’s bedchamber’ supplied in 1664-6582. However, other items were more functional. Once ready for bed, Charles II would be dressed in a linen nightshirt and nightcap. In 1672 Dorothy Chiffinch, seamstress, made eighteen night shirts and six caps that were trimmed with 59¾ yards of bone lace for the night shirts and 4½ yards bone lace for the caps supplied by John Eaton, laceman83. As the quantity of lace indicates, these nightshirts were practical but far from plain.
31Charles II’s style was influenced by four main considerations that can be loosely defined as tradition, innovation, formality and informality. They were not of equal significance or significant throughout the reign. The influence of French fashion and court culture was pervasive but for a brief period from 1666 this was countered by a wish for a distinctive English style, coupled with a desire to promote English cloth. While the king’s enthusiasm for the vest may not have lasted, he did continue to include English cloth in his wardrobe although it was mixed liberally with fabrics from France and Italy. As such his choices resulted in an elegant yet informal style.
2 For male dress in this period, see C. Willett Cunnington and Phillis Cunnington, Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century, London, Faber and Faber, 1955, p. 129-67, Valerie Cumming, A Visual History of Costume : The Seventeenth Century, London, Batsford, 1984, p. 14-16 and Aileen Ribeiro, Fashion and Fiction : Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2005, p. 215-32.
3 For Charles I’s clothes, see Roy Strong, ‘Charles I’s Clothes for the Years 1633 to 1635’, Costume, no. 14, 1980, p. 73-89 and Valerie Cumming, ‘Great Vanity and Excesse in Apparell : Some Clothing and Furs of Tudor and Stuart Royalty’, in The Late King’s Goods : Collections, Possessions and Patronage of Charles I in the Light of the Commonwealth Sale Inventories, ed. by A. MacGregor, London/Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 322-50.
4 See Christopher Breward, The Culture of Fashion : A New History of Fashionable Dress, Manchester/New York, Manchester University Press, 1995, p. 82.
5 Anna Keay, The Magnificent Monarch : Charles II and the Ceremonies of Power, London, Continuum, 2008, p. 72.
6 See Maria Hayward, ‘Going Dutch ? How Far Did Charles II’s Exile in the Netherlands Shape his Wardrobe, 1644-1666’, in Netherlandish Fashion in the Seventeenth Century, ed. by A. Jolly and J. Piesche, Bern, The Abegg Stiftung, forthcoming.
7 For Charles II’s itinerary see Katherine M. B. Gibson, Best Belov’d of Kings : The Iconography of King Charles II, unpublished PhD thesis, University of London, 1997, I, p. 204–05.
8 Neil Cuddy, ‘Reinventing a Monarchy : The Changing Structure and Political Function of the Stuart Sourt, 1603-88’, in The Stuart Courts, ed. by E. Cruickshanks, Stroud, Sutton, 2000, p. 59-85.
9 For his seamstresses see Patricia Wardle, ‘Divers Necessaries for His Majesty’s Use and Service : Seamstresses to the Stuart Kings’, Costume, no. 31, 1997, p. 20-24.
10 Charles II, My Dearest Minette : Letters Between Charles II and his Sister the Duchesse d’Orléans, ed. by R. Norrington, London, Peter Owens, 1996, p. 36.
11 This is similar to the level of orders placed by his father : in 1633-34 Charles I ordered thirty-two suits and in 1634-35 he received thirty suits, Kew, The National Archive (hereafter TNA), AO3/910/2 and AO3/910/3.
12 Kew, TNA AO3/912, p. 51.
13 Kew, TNA, AO3/917, fol. 17v.
14 Samuel Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, ed by. R. Latham and W. Matthews, London, G. Bell and Sons, 1970-83, 11 vols., VIII, p. 418.
15 Kew, TNA, LC5/41, fol. 13r.
16 Ibid., fol. 10r.
17 Quoted in Lorraine Madway, ‘The Most Conspicuous Solemnity : The Coronation of Charles II’, in The Stuart Courts, op. cit., p. 142.
18 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 16.
19 These suits are discussed further later in the essay.
20 For example, in 1671 Abraham, sergeant skinner, was paid £ 13 6s 8d for ‘beating and airing our coronation and parliament robes for one whole year ended at Lady Day’, Kew, TNA, LC5/41, fol. 1v.
21 Charles II, The Letters, Speeches and Declarations of King Charles II, ed. by A. Bryant, London, Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1935, p. 103.
23 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 75 and AO3/931, p. 56.
24 Charles II’s effigy is dressed in the robes of the Order of the Garter. Harvey and Mortimer consider the robes to be genuine but that there is not sufficient evidence to indicate that they belonged to the king, The Funeral Effigies of Westminster Abbey, ed. by A. Harvey and R. Mortimer, Woodbridge, The Boydell Press, 1994, p. 79-94. However, others consider the robes to have belonged to Charles II. For example, Joanna Marschener, « Le manteau de couronnement de George III et l’ordre de la Jarretière », in Fastes de cour et cérémonies royales : le costume de cour en Europe, 1650-1800, ed. by P. Arizzoli-Clémentel and P. Gorguet Ballesteros, Paris, RMN, 2009, p. 152.
25 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 11.
26 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 46.
27 Elias Ashmole, The Institutions, Laws and Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, London, J. Macock for Nathanael Brooke, 1672, p. 34.
28 Valerie Cumming, Royal Dress : The Image and Reality, 1580 to the Present Day, London, Batsford, 1989, p. 31.
29 A. Keay, The Magnificent Monarch…, op. cit., p. 72.
30 London, British Library (hereafter BL), Harley MS 6271, fol. 2r.
31 London, BL, Harley MS 6271, fol. 20r.
32 A. Keay, The Magnificent Monarch…, op. cit., p. 177-180, 70-71. The Maundy ceremony gradually became less significant in the 1670s because it emphasised the subservience of the monarch.
33 Kew, TNA, AO3/911, p. 57.
34 N. Cuddy, art. cit., p. 70.
35 See Charles I, 1631, by Daniel Mytens, National Portrait Gallery, London ; illustrated in V. Cumming, A Visual History…, op. cit., p. 51.
36 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 16.
37 John Evelyn, The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. by E. S. de Beer, London, Oxford University Press, 1959, p. 501 ; Esmond S. de Beer, ‘King Charles II’s Own Fashion : An Episode in English-French Relations, 1666-1670’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, II, no. 2, 1938, p. 105-15 and Diana de Marly, ‘King Charles II’s Own Fashion : The Theatrical Origins of the English Vest’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, no. 37, 1974, p. 378-82.
38 S. Pepys, The Diary…, op. cit., VII, p. 328.
39 J. Evelyn, The Diary…, op. cit., p. 501.
40 E. S. De Beer, art. cit., p. 108
41 Kew, TNA, AO3/915, p. 35.
42 Ibid., p. 39.
43 For example, Kew, TNA, AO3/919, p. 5.
44 John Evelyn, Tyrannus or the Mode, ed. by J. L. Nevinson, Oxford, Basil Blackwell for the Luttrell Society, 1951, p. 1.
45 E. S. de Beer, art. cit., p. 114-15.
46 Charles II, My Dearest Minette…, op. cit., p. 160.
47 Ibid., p. 167.
48 Philip Mansel, Dressed to Rule : Royal and Court Costume from Louis XIV to Elizabeth II, London/New Haven, Yale University Press, 2005, p. 50.
49 S. Pepys, The Diary…, op. cit., III, p. 298.
50 Kew, TNA, AO3/911.
51 London, Victoria and Albert Museum, T.711.1-1995 ; Avril Hart and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail : The 17th and 18th Centuries, London, V&A Publications, 1998, p. 80, 96.
52 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 12.
53 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 35. Sourceau and Allen were paid £ 15 for making this suit, while they received £ 12 10s and £ 14 for making the other two.
54 S. Pepys, The Diary…, op. cit., II, p. 82.
55 C. Breward, The Culture of Fashion…, op. cit., p. 83.
56 Kew, TNA, AO3/912, p. 50.
57 Kew, TNA, AO3/931, p. 18.
58 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 71.
59 The Reception of the Prince de Ligne, c. 1660, by Gillis van Tilborch, Royal Collection ; illustrated in V. Cumming, Royal Dress…, op. cit., p. 27.
60 Kew, TNA, AO3/912, p. 47.
61 Kew, TNA, AO3/918, fol. 31v.
62 Kew, TNA, AO3/918, fols. 32rv.
63 Lorenzo Magalotti, Travels of Cosmo the Third, Grand Duke of Tuscany, through England, During the Reign of King Charles the Second (1669)…, London, J. Mawman, 1821, p. 178.
64 S. Pepys, The Diary…, op. cit., I, p. 155.
65 Kew, TNA, AO3/912, p. 11, 14-16.
66 S. Pepys, The Diary…, II, p. 157-58 ; L. Magalotti, Travels of Cosmo the Third…, op. cit., p. 207.
67 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 10.
68 For example, in 1633-34 Charles I ordered two tennis suits and three riding coats and in 1634-35 he received two tennis suits and four riding coats, Kew, TNA, AO3/910/2 and TNA AO3/910/3.
69 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 23-24, 28.
70 London, BL, Harley 6271, fol. 6r.
71 Kew, TNA, AO3/918, p. 33.
72 Kew, TNA, AO3/911, p. 52-53, 58.
73 Kew, TNA, AO3/929, p. 20.
74 A. Ribeiro, Fashion and Fiction…, op. cit., p. 216.
75 See the miniature nightgown made for Lord Clapham in the style of the 1670s (London, Victoria and Albert Museum, T.847N-1974) ; Susan North, ‘Lord and Lady Clapham’, in Michael Snodin and John Styles, Design & the Decorative Arts, Britain 1500-1900, London, V&A Publications, 2001, p. 114-15.
76 London, BL, Harley MS 6271, fol. 21r. They were inspired by the Japanese kimono and were brought to Europe by the Dutch East India Company who received a trade concession in 1609 from the Japanese court, see Emilie E. S. Gordenker, Careless Romance : Van Dyck and Costume in Seventeenth Century Portraiture, PhD thesis, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1998, p. 286.
77 London, BL, Harley MS 6271, fol. 19v.
78 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 41.
79 Kew, TNA, AO3/915, pp. 6, 14.
80 A. Keay, The Magnificent Monarch…, op. cit., p. 128, 172, 188, 194-197.
81 Kew, TNA, AO3/910/6, p. 41.
82 Kew, TNA, AO3/913, p. 50.
83 Kew, TNA, LC5/41, fol. 13r.Top of page
|Fig. 1 - Hieronymus Janssens, Charles II Dancing at a Ball at Court, c. 1660, oil on canvas : 140 × 214 cm. London, The Royal Collection, RCIN 00525.|
|Fig. 2 - Thomas Hewart after Hendrik Danckerts, John Rose, the Royal Gardener, Presenting a Pineapple to King Charles II, c. 1676, oil on canvas : 113 × 120 cm. London, The National Trust, Ham House and Gardens, inv. 1139824.|
|Fig. 3 - John Michael Wright, Charles II, c. 1661-66, oil on canvas : 281.9 × 239.2 cm. London, The Royal Collection, RCIN 404951.|
Maria Hayward, « Dressing Charles II : The King’s Clothing Choices (1660–85) », Apparence(s) [Online], 6 | 2015, Online since 25 August 2015, Connection on 26 June 2016. URL : http://apparences.revues.org/1320Top of page
Top of page
Les contenus de la revue Apparence(s) sont disponibles selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.