Elizabethan Doublet Trimming Ideas

Diane d’Andouins by Etienne Dumonstier

Earlier this year, when I was feverishly sewing for Colonial Williamsburg, I put together a quick test bodice in some russet velveteen. It was just to test out the pattern I’d made for the riding habit waistcoat, but serendipitously, the shape and fit would also work for a ladies’ late Elizabethan doublet.

So I didn’t scrap the test bodice, and now I’m wanting to make it into the 1570s-90s outfit it so desperately wants to become.  Lucky for me, I have some black taffeta, black velvet ribbon, and reticella-ish lace in my stash, ready to be allotted to this costume.

I trimmed an Elizabethan bodice in black velvet ribbon before, and loved it to bits, but this time I want to try a different pattern.

A loooong time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

So, naturally, to the research!

Saint Cecilia, 1550s-60s, by Ambrosius Benson

This is black trimmed in gold, and it has an overskirt, so it’s a gown, not a doublet. Primarily I like the sleeve treatment here.

Mary Tudor, by Hans Holbein

I love the stark contrast on Mary’s gown (a gown, not a doublet, yes, but this trim style could be extended), and those sleeves are KAPOW, but I don’t think I could pull the linebacker look off!

Portrait of a Lady in Black, by Pieter Jansz. Pourbus. Click through for a super-huge version

A complex trim arrangement – would this look as good in russet and black, instead of black and metallic lace? On a random note, I love the little lion on her necklace.

Princess of Cleve and Berg, 1577

Though we can’t see the rest of the Princess’ ensemble, the horizontal trim is quite striking, as well as the shoulder treatment.

Marie de’ Medici as a child

And here, of course, is the opposite of Cleve, above – vertical banding.

Extreme Costuming – a page with a whole bunch of doublet trimming ideas – this is just one – click through for all of them.

I like the chevron trim, though I might inverse it so it points down – this takes a lot of ribbon, though, which I may not have.

Something’ll come to me. I used to know a lot about this period, but I’ve forgotten it all over the years. I suspect my doublet+sleeves+petticoat is a Fair-ism, but more research’ll suss that one out. I don’t have the yardage to do a matching overskirt, so it might just have to stay a Fair-ism. I’m okay with that – it’s Renfaire, after all.


  • Eleonora Amalia

    April 24, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Lady in Black's sleeves are crazy! They look like two croissants attached to her arms. I'm not a huge fan of Elizabethan fashion but gaawd, those ruff's are pure awesomeness! And Mary Tudor's gown is surprisingly agreeable, too!

  • AuntieNan

    April 25, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    I delved mightily into Extreme Costumings doublet ideas the last couple of years. I agree about the points down,much more flattering. And as to having enough ribbon, what about alternating ribbon and black gimp braid? If the bodice is narrow and sleeves ditto, perhaps it could be a gown with 2 matching decorated panels down the front but a contrast skirt the rest of the way around?
    Love the research–it's stuff I haven't seen before, and ai thought Id culled most of the Met and V&A online images!!!

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