The Tudor doublet was an article of men’s clothing. The definition of the doublet could be described as a tight fitting, short jacket which was buttoned up at the front. The term ‘doublet’ comes from the way that the original garment was quilted, which involved a doubling up of the fabric. The layers of fabric were stuffed with cotton which would for a layer of padding and protect the wearer from bruising which could be caused by a chain mail shirt. The doublet was popular during both the Medieval and Tudor period.
Types of Doublet in Tudor Era
The cut and style of the doublet was made to emphasise the shoulders and hips of the man that was wearing it. It provided the man with a triangular shape which made him look broad at the shoulders and neat at the waist, at the same time showing the strength in his legs. Like the gowns worn by the Tudor women, the sleeves were interchangeable and were attached to the doublet by laces.
The sleeves were often in contrast to the design and colour of the main doublet, and could be changed to make a number of different statements. The slashed doublet was a popular trend, this meant that the outer later of the garment was cut or slashed to show the colour of the fabric underneath. The most common shape to be cut into the fabric was that of a diamond.
The Doublet as used by Men and Women
While mainly a part of a gentleman’s wardrobe the doublet was for a time adopted by women. Their doublet was cut slightly differently to the men’s. The female doublet was designed not to be buttoned up to the neck like that of the man, but to be left open at the bust line. Rather than emphasising a broadness of the shoulders it made a lady’s waist seem smaller than it probably was.
In the making of the doublet a number of materials were used. Fabrics used to make doublets, especially for the noble classes and royalty were very expensive and sumptuous. Silks, satins and velvets were used with taffeta too. Many of the dyes used to create the glorious colours so liked by the royal court were imported into England from Europe, making the finished item even more expensive. The doublet was then embroidered and embellished with jewels placing them even further out of the reach of the common man.
Tudor Geometric Doublets
Much of the fashion of the Tudor court was linked to the use of geometry. Clothing was designed to provide the wearer with a distinct geometric shape, totally disguising the natural shape of the body. To gain the desired shape of the fabric it was often stiffened with by the use of whale bone, of the use of extra padding and quilting.
Men of the court were often found to be wearing girdles, which are much the same as a female corset, this would give them the look of having a small waist which would accentuate their triangular shape. The doublet was undoubtedly uncomfortable to wear, and hot too with all of the quilting and padding.