The Stuart period in English history was from 1603 until 1714 when the House of Stuart were the rulers of the country. During this time period there were dramatic changes in the style of clothing worn by men and women. For women fashionable gowns had high necklines or extremely low necklines. There was no in between. The dresses had short wings at the shoulders and separate sleeves were worn to match the dress. Cartwheel ruffs were also worn around the neck, but these disappeared from fashion in the early part of the 17th century.
By the mid 1620’s styles were more relaxed. Instead of ruffs, there were wire-ringed collars and later wide flat collars. At the beginning of the Stuart period, bodices had long waistlines, but it became fashionable to have short waistlines on dresses in the middle of the century and the style reversed again by the 1700’s. The long sleeves gave way to shorter sleeves becoming fuller and looser. Light and bright colors began to take the lace of the darker colors and it was fashionable for women to wear short strings of pearls. Although women still wore corsets, they were shorter and a padded roll was used to hold the skirts and hoops in place.
Men wore shirts, doublets and jerkins. Shirts were made of linen and had deep cuffs. The sleeves became fuller and a wire collar that stood straight out came in fashion. Most of the men wore beards that were pointed and a large mustache. The doublets, (short snug fitting jackets) were pointed in front but by the middle of the century they were looser and were often left open in front to show the shirt worn underneath. Stockings were fitted and came to just above the knee. They were held in place by means of leather garters, worn under the breeches. Soldiers of the period wore jerkins, which were sleeveless close fitting jackets. However, these were no longer in style after the mid 1600’s.
Hairstyles for women also changed during the Stuart period. At the beginning of the century it was considered stylish to wear the hair feathered high over the forehead. Later this style changed to wearing the hair in loose curls or waves to the shoulders, with the rest of the hair gathered into a bun at the back of the head. Married women wore a mop cap, often trimmed with lace.
Men wore tall hats when outdoors. They wore their hair at collar length and very fashionable men wore a long strand of hair over one shoulder. This strand was called a lovelock.