The History of the Farthingale

A single of the most outstanding features of 16th-century trend for gals is the farthingale. 

The farthingale is a form of underskirt that has rigid round hoops sewn to it to make it rigid. These hoops raise in diameter from the waistline down to the hem. It was normally anchored to the waistline with ties. But as the garment turned preferred, females started to experiment with a variety of forms of farthingales (which will be talked about afterwards).

a detail of St John Retable painting by Pedro Garcia de Bernavarre
Likely the earliest depiction of the Spanish “verdugado,” in a depth from a painting by Pedro Garcia de Bernavarre

This type of garment originated in Spain. The time period “farthingale” is essentially a corrupted Anglicized phrase of the Spanish title for the garment, verdugado. This hoopskirt was generally worn by women of all ages from the aristocracy or properly-to-do gals. Primary Spanish farthingales were usually dark-colored, though farthingales in other countries (like England and France) have been a lot more elaborate and extravagant.

Catherine of Aragon, who would be the to start with spouse of King Henry VIII, is said to have brought the farthingale from Spain to England when she came about to marry Henry’s more mature brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, in 1501. But there is minimal evidence that she continued to put on this type of hoop skirt as she adopted the English design of costume. She might not have been even the initially to use the farthingale. 

According to earliest resources, the initial verdugados ended up worn all around 1470. Joan of Portugal was the a person who begun to put on the verdugado, with hoops, when she was the queen of Castille (now element of Spain). She brought on pretty a stir as she reportedly wore attire that confirmed much too much cleavage. She was also regarded for her scandalous behavior. When Joan began to use farthingales, everybody else in the courtroom adopted match. Rumors circulated that she began to use farthingales to disguise her being pregnant (she experienced two illegitimate small children).

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portrait of Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, wearing a Tudor gown showing the line of the Spanish farthingale

As farthingales became popular in England and France, they turned known as “Spanish farthingale.” Lots of women of all ages in England and France wore double skirts around their farthingales, with the outermost skirt parted in front to display another skirt underneath.

Primarily based on the clever depictions of the farthingale, the earliest Spanish farthingales present hoops prominently shown just above the outer area of the skirts, just delivering a unique condition to them. First farthingales in Spain have been stiffened by esparto grass, the identical grass applied to make baskets and espadrille, a style of everyday footwear. Afterwards patterns were stiffened with willow withers (flexible willow stems that are also recognised as “osiers” or “willow withies.” Whalebone, wood, and wire ended up later on utilised from the 1580s onwards.

Later on in the 16th century, women began experimenting with widening the tops of their skirts’ profile. At very first, they commenced with introducing padded around their squander, but afterwards they adjusted the form of their farthingales. 

farthingale reconstruction
A farthingale reconstruction

Just one kind of farthingale, the French farthingale (also termed a drum farthingale or wheel farthingale), consisted of a hoop or a sequence of equivalent hoops that gave the skirt a drum-like form. The outer skirt equipped intently at the waistline then spread out about the farthingale in a cascade of folds. Yet another form of farthingale is the bell farthingale, which consisted of a combination of hoops and paddings to give the skirt a bell-like form.

There was also the Italian farthingale, a lesser and much more fragile variant that was balanced similarly at the hips and normally worn by alone as a skirt.

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a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I wearing a skirt with a farthingale underneath

The farthingale was most notably worn by Queen Elizabeth I of England and other girls of substantial nobility. Farthingales persisted in most European courts until finally the mid-17th century. Despite the fact that the farthingale was no more time in style from that place on, it paved the way for later varieties of structure to give the skirts a distinctive form. They contain panniers, crinolines, and bustles.