Rock the Frock- 1620s Spanish Court Gown

Back with #RockTheFrock after several years as I have finally found enough information about one of my favourite styles and item. It’s taken years to work through digitisation and to potentially make a connection between a few different early 20thC costume history books.

Mannequin de dos en costume espagnol XVIIe” and “Mannequin en habit à l’espagnole de la collection Worth

This (was?) is a genuinely extant garment from the “Collection Worth” that was on display for the Société de l’histoire du costume in 1900. A booklet for the society was published in 1907 that included an article by Maurice Leloir: “A propos de la premiere exposition de costumes anciens,” pgs 156-196, Bulletin de la Société de l’histoire du costume, Leroy (Paris).

The pattern was also shared in this article on page 161:

If either of these seem familiar, the back view of the mannequin and gown and the pattern are also published in Millia Davenport’s Book of Costume (fig 1760 and 1762.)

I have loved this gown ever since I found that set of figures in Book of Costume but I’ve set it aside as I have not trusted the source- Leloir. There is good news and bad news. It was an extant garment indeed. And was part of the Worth Collection.

It was on loan for the exhibit but was altered.

“Leloir described how the SHC modified and altered a rare seventeenth-century Spanish formal court corset lent by Worth in order to mount it for display”

Fashion Collections, Collectors, and Exhibitions in France, 1874–1900: Historical Imagination, the Spectacular Past, and the Practice of Restoration
Maude Bass-Krueger ORCID Icon
Pages 405-433 | Published online: 31 Jan 2018

Pretty heart breaking, but it gets worse. Bass-Krueger translates the section within the article Leloir wrote:

The corset was such that it produced no effect when put on a mannequin. We had to rip out the used lining and patch the cloth. The parts that were embroidered had been saved by the embroidery itself. But the plain parts, used, in tatters, no longer gave the garment shape. They had been most cut away from the embroidery and replaced quite skillfully from fabric taken from the skirt. That explains why the skirt was missing. In two places, at the underside of the arms, the original fabric remained with its wear and tear. We replaced the skirt, on the mannequin, with fabric that looked analogous in color and in period, loaned to us by M. De Cuvillon. After this work (putting the fabric back between the embroidery), everything had been relined with a new blue silk, and then sewn back together quite well, except for the sleeves. How was it that several embroidered bands around the sleeves had disappeared? The count wasn’t there to redo the two sleeves. We replaced the missing three bands by a painted textile. Thanks to Velasquez’s portraits we were able to reconstitute the garment as it should have been. (Leloir 1909, 159)


I can’t imagine how M. Worth would have felt. I’m devastated at this distance of time and space!

This habit of restoration and transformation was not limited to this garment. Extant garments were shared between collectors and artists and made over to put on models for their own art. Leloir was no exception. It’s possible to compare plates prepared for “Histoire du Costume” with exhibition photos and with his art and find garments and even mannequins.

The clothes sometimes have several different inscriptions which seem to attest to a real circulation of the object between the different actors of this network of collectors. The proliferation of these stamps also raises the question of the use of these garments beyond their collection.

La collection Maurice Leloir et la collection de la Société de l’histoire du costume, Le fonds ancien du Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris : nouvelles perspectives de recherche
Pascale Gorguet-Ballesteros and Marie Bonin

Incredibly though, Leloir gives us a name and clues as to how reproductions were made at the time.

“The joy of Clootens was to imitate the way of the craftsmen of old, in shoes, clothes, lingerie, anything, his pride in having cut, to have sewn like an old man, he said. […] He worked so well, mimicked everything so perfectly that every time I see a piece of costume prior to the18th century in good condition, I am wary and imagine that Clootens has been there”


This might explain a handful of garments photographed for other costume history books at the same time. The later book by Karl Kohler has a handful of suspect garments, though some are simply poorly mounted. But possibly also in Dress Design by Talbot Hughes.

Fortunately most of the very rare and older garments seem to have been barely supported so that we can recognise at least three surcoats that have since been patterned by Janet Arnold:

However There is a curious pattern in the middle of pattern 67, The pattern states it is a doublet, but the text states “Bodice with slashed sleeve, 1620-40” and it is very familiar indeed:

This is nearly exact to the Leloir diagram. Both Davenport and Hughes seem to have had access to this pattern. As there is no fully digitised copy of Leloir’s “Histoire du Costume” I can’t tell if he published this pattern and gown in that work as well. But it does go to how influential the Société de l’histoire du costume and Leloir were.

1641- Kisszeben

Kisszebeni szabásminta-könyv lapjai 1641-bõl. (Országos Magyar Iparmûvészeti Múzeum.)

Tailor’s Pattern Book, Accession Nr.: 51.1299.1 Kisszeben


DKA-025754 Kisszebeni szabásminta-könyv lapjai 1641-ből

Tompos Lilla: A dolmányszabás módosulása a 16. századtól a 18. századig. Ars Decorativa, 10. (1990). 1990. – 71-98:72.
Radvánszky Béla: Magyar családélet és háztartás a XVI-XVII. században. I. (Reprint). Helikon Kiadó, Budapest, 1986. – 255. kép
Historic Hungarian Costume From Budapest. Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester), Manchester, 1979. – p. 7.
Szerk.: Domanovszky Sándor: Magyr és törökös viseletformák a XVI–XVII. században. Magyar művelődéstörténet. III. A kereszténység védőbásttyája. Magyar Történelmi Társulat, Budapest, 1940. (Höllrigl József)
Höllrigl József: Magyar viselettörténeti kállítás. Leíró lajstrom. Iparművészeti Múzeum, Budapest, 1938. – Nr. 144.
Végh Gyula: Régi magyar könyvkötések Végh Gyula színes rajzaiban. Magyar Bibliophil Társaság, Budapest, 1936. – 23.1.

1520s- Mary of Hungary

The gown has been dated to the 1520s based on the fabric weave, the style, and probable connection to Mary of Hungary and Louis II. This connection is not yet substantiated by physical, written, or visual evidence outside the aforementioned style and the potential for the garments to have been presented as gifts to the Mariazell shrine by the royal couple while on a pilgrimage around the time of their wedding.

Höllrigl József: Történelmi ruhák a Magyar Nemzeti Múzeumban, pg 208
K. F. Dózsa: Mária királyné esküvői öltözéke az újabb kutatások tükrében

Rough dimensions of the gown are given by J. Höllrigl and V. Ember Mária as follows:

Waist 73 cm
Skirt front is 107 cm
Skirt back 124 cm
Skirt hem 780 cm
Sleeve (inc. cuff) 71 cm
Neckline border 7cm
Cuff 19cm
Bodice length front 30cm (possibly to the join in the guarding rather than the shoulder?)
Bodice back length 36cm (possibly to the join in the guarding rather than the shoulder?)
Skirt hem strip 1.5cm

The gown is made of a green damask, the guarding a gold lampas.

The guarding is lined in a coarse linen canvas.

The skirt is approximately a circle made from four full widths of fabric (58cm) joined selvage to selvage, the sides extended by narrow matching pieces. It is lined from waist to nearly knee in white flannel wool, and lined fully in a coarse canvas with a woolen strip that protects the hem.

The bodice is not entirely symmetric according to K F Dózsa’s line art, with a strip of damask missing under the guarding on the left hand side. The bodice is lined in a green wool.

In total there are three pattern drafts of the gown.

The simplest was published by V. Ember Mária (1962, after Höllrigl?)

Simplified pattern diagram for the gown, V. Ember Mária: Folia archeologica 14 . pg 149

The most accurate appears to be K.F. Dózsa (1984.)

K. F. Dózsa, Mária királyné menyegzői öltözéke, photo from

And a diagram that retains the principles of Dózsa while making them symmetric by N. Tarrant (1994.)

The chemise is made of 6 trapezoid panels 40cm at the tops, 60cm at the hem,

V. Ember Mária: Folia archeologica 14 . pg 147
K. F. Dózsa: Mária királyné esküvői öltözéke az újabb kutatások tükrében
V. Ember Mária: Folia archeologica 14 . pg 149

The first published work is Höllrigl József, Történelmi ruhák a Magyar Nemzeti Múzeumban, Magyar Művészet 5, 1929, pgs 205-216

Höllrigl apparently had fuller notes than this article had room for including a pattern draft. This pattern draft was included in a much later article published in Folia archeologica 14



Magyar Művészet / Majovszky Pál szerk.: Magyar Művészet 5. évfolyam 1929 / TANULMÁNYOK / Höllrigl József: Történelmi ruhák a Magyar Nemzeti Múzeumban
József Höllrigl, Historical costumes in the Hungarian National Museum, Hungarian Art 5, 1929, pgs 205-216

I have translated bluntly the information as it relates directly to the items.

The shirt:
The women’s shirt has a curved, deep cut in the chest and back. . Where the very loose shirt is in contact with a strap wider than a fingertip lining the cut-out, the dense, tiny wrinkles on the front and back are equal to two fingers wide, embroidered with silver geometric embellishment, geometric embellished with a silver embroidery of semicircles embracing the wrinkles of the loose fingers at the wrist, converging into a narrow cuff.

The gown fabric:
The material of the women’s dress is Italian green silk damask, the width of which corresponds to the width of the fabric of the mantle[? i.e. the corresponding mantle of Louis] , i.e. 58 cm. Pomegranates, surrounded by fantastic flowers pattern, alternate in rows, framed from late Gothic roses and combined with floral tendrils. The crosses of tendrils and their motives are surrounded by small crowns.
 I managed to find an almost identical replica of this fabric on two mass dresses at the Schnütgen-Museum in Cologne. 1 The only difference between the fabrics, which match exactly in the material, color and pattern, is that while in our case the floral tendrils connecting the pomegranates are simple, the Cologne fabrics are braided from two branches.
1 Franz Witte, Die lithurgisch Gewänder und kirchlichen Stickereien des Schniitgenmuseums Köln. Table 6. Kasel. Köln, zweite Hälfte des 15. Jahrh. and Table 29. Kasel, Suddeutschland, um 1500.

Gown cut and construction:
The women’s dress is tight, close-fitting, with a short waist and a very rich, bouncing, bell-shaped skirt falling down in large folds. The only ornament on the bodice is a strap made of 7 cm wide gold-fiber fabric, which borders the curved cut-out of the back and, running over the shoulders, runs slightly in front from the front to the belt of the skirt, leaving the chest wide at a good width; and the long sleeves are stretched so long at their ends by a funnel-shaped handle made of the same gold cloth that only the tips of the fingers of the hand could be seen. It is very interesting to design the inside of the dress, which is not visible from the outside, so that the skirt can wrinkle as heavily as possible, it is lined with a fairly thick, strong fabric, for the same purpose the upper third of which is very thick white flannel. The base of the waist is a green cloth, a sleeve stripe made of the same material protects and borders the skirt. The dimensions of the dress, supplemented by the dimensions of the baby made for it, give an idea of ​​its proportions, these are: 30 cm from front to neck to the belt, 36 cm at the back, ie the belt slopes backwards, its abundance is 73 cm, the length of the skirt is 107 cm, 124 cm, the lower circumference of the skirt is 780 cm, the length of the sleeves is 71 cm.

Library / Advanced search / Hits / Folia Archaeologica / Folia archeologica 14 ./ V. Ember Mária: II. Lajos magyar király és felesége ruhája, 1962

Katalin F Dózsa; Mária királyné menyegzői öltözéke, Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Budapest : Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum : Múzsák Közművelődési Kiadó, 1984
This site includes a rare photo of the pattern included from this restoration attempt.

Könyvtár / Összetett keresés / Találatok / Folia Historica / Folia historica 13F. Dózsa Katalin: Mária királyné esküvői öltözéke az újabb kutatások tükrében, 1987
Tarrant, Naomi E A: The development of costume, Edinborough : National Museums of Scotland in conjunction with Routledge, 1994.

Museum: Restoration notes. Updated website: Textile collection, image in the gallery near the bottom of the page.


Taryn East’s photos, October 7, 2011 Very clear photos that show how much restoration was required.

Mary of Burgundy
Photos by Taryn East Judit Szőcs: (I cannot tell if these photos were taken by the blog owner, a search for credit cycles back to this site.)
Predominantly about the shirt, but two clear images.
Cynthia Virtue hosted much of the very earliest information available to the general public, and thankfully maintains the site to this day.

1902 … Harriet A Brown System

Scientific dress cutting and making,

“The Harriet A. Brown system,” simplified and improved; directions for its use by Brown, Harriet A[delaid], Mrs., 1847- [from old catalog]
Publication date 1902
Topics Dressmaking. [from old catalog]
Publisher [Boston] H. A. Brown
Collection library_of_congress; americana
Digitizing sponsor Sloan Foundation
Contributor The Library of Congress
Language English

1914 The Perfect Dressmaking System

The perfect dressmaking system

by [Bennett, Ella Alvira], 1887- [from old catalog]
Publication date 1914
Topics Dressmaking. [from old catalog]
Publisher [Des Moines, Register and leader job printing department]
Collection library_of_congress; americana
Digitizing sponsor Sloan Foundation
Contributor The Library of Congress
Language English

Very simple diagrams, most interest is the use of photography to show how to measure.

1890 The Perfect Dress Fitter

The perfect dress fitter …

Complete instructions in the art of cutting all kinds of garments by [Bearrie, A. E., & co.], St. Louis. [from old catalog]
Publication date 1890
Topics Dressmaking. [from old catalog], Garment cutting. [from old catalog]
Publisher St. Louis, Mo., Nixon-Jones printing co.
Collection library_of_congress; americana
Digitizing sponsor Sloan Foundation
Contributor The Library of Congress
Language English