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Doublet from 1620


Doublet from1620

This man’s doublet is from the 1620s and is made of luxurious silk embellished with pinking and decorative slits. A doublet was a man’s snug-fitting jacket that is shaped and fitted to the man’s body. Pinking was the intentional slashing of fabric and was used as a decorative technique to show colourful linings and shirts. The doublet had a long history of over 300 years with a variety of styles and cuts.

The doublet was usually worn under another layer of clothing such as a gown when in public. Initially, it was just stitched, and quilted lining which was worn under a piece of armour consisting of breastplate and backplate and used to prevent bruising and chafing. Later it became elaborated enough to be seen on its own. Throughout its long history, the doublet served to give an elegant shape and padding to the body.

Doublets of the 14th and 15th centuries were generally hip-length, sometimes shorter, worn over the shirt. From the late 14th century, doublets were cut and padded to give the wearer a pigeon-breasted silhouette, a fashion that gradually died out in favour of a flatter natural fit. Through the Tudor period, fashionable doublets remained close-fitting with baggy sleeves, and elaborate surface decoration such as pinks, slashes, embroidery, and applied braid.

In the early Elizabethan period, doublets were padded over the belly with sleeve attachments at the shoulder. By the 17th century, doublets were short-waisted. A typical sleeve of this period was full and slashed to show the shirt beneath. Decorative ribbon points were pulled through eyelets on the breeches and the waist of the doublet to keep the breeches in place and were tied in elaborate bows.

The doublet fell out of fashion in the mid-17th century when Louis XIV of France and Charles II of England established a court costume for men consisting of a long coat, a waistcoat, a cravat and breaches. The ancestor of the modern suit.


  • The doublet developed from the padded garments worn under armour. What other fashions have evolved from initially pragmatic clothing?
  • Why does fashion change suddenly after a long history?

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Photo Credit: 1) Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons