16th and 17th century Polish Dress -- Accessories

Obviously Polish noblemen wore something besides their zupan and kontusz. Probate records and household accounts reveal that noblemen and burgers had dozens shirts of imported linen. Shirts of homespun linen were not recorded for their value was negligible. So it can be seen that shirts were owned in abundance. As for leg coverings, no one seems to know what Polish pants looked like in the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of the time, they are invisible because the top of the boot meets the bottom of the coat. It is conjectured that men continued to wear hosen pointed to a doublet when convenient. The tight-fitting hosen would function well under their skin-like boots. Other accounts surmise that they wore full pants like those of the Hungarians and Russians. However no pants from this period survive. It is also possible that Polish men felt no need to wear any leg covering other than cut hose or stockings. Shoes were mostly out of favour when wearing Polish dress since they coordinated better with Western European costume. Boots were prevalent and this is what we see in most period portraiture. Yellow was a popular colour and the boots were made out of such fine leather that they appear to be a second skin. Often the fronts of the boots would be higher than the backs in order to cover the knee while riding. Hats were a popular accessory among the Poles as we can see in the paintings thus far. The kolpak was a popular hat style, lined with fur and turned up into a brim. The form of the extant hats is not unlike Elizabethan night caps or 18th century workman?s caps. Feathers were often worn at the front of the hat and were only limited by the wearer?s taste.

In closing...

Do not let a lack of comprehension of the Polish language deter you from the study of the brilliant clothing styles from the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of Irena Turnau?s books are available in English and can be obtained by interlibrary loan at your local library.

Internet Resources

Art?s Polish Nobility Reenactment Page -- http://www.icbleu.org/artur/ Reconstructing History Patterns for Historical Clothing --http://www.reconstructinghistory.com sig (Slavic Interest Group) list -- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sig/ Slavic Interest Group -- http://slavic.freeservers.com/ Stroje (Costume) -- Polish Plates at the Costumer?s Manifesto -- http://costumes.org/history/100pages/BOOKS/racinet/polandmedieval.htm 17thc Polish Costume and Military Equipment -- http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/Equipment.htm


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© 2004 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.