The 17th century was an era of enlightenment and revolutions, with significant scientific advances and several political and religious wars taking place during the century. During the 1600s, there were also shifts in male fashion as men's costumes abandoned the conservative look from the 1500s for more extravagant and flamboyant styles.
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Fabrics and Textiles
Seventeenth century men's costumes welcomed the introduction of soft fabrics, such as velvet, satin and silk. Instead of the blacks and other dark colours that were common in earlier eras, men began wearing bright colours. Additionally, clothes were no longer plain. Instead, men's costumes became decorated excessively in an ornate, Baroque fashion. Jackets were often trimmed in ribbons or braiding. Decorative golden buttons, bows and embroidery adorned jackets and tops.
In the first half of the 17th century, men's breeches changed dramatically by increasing in length. To elongate their figure, men's doublets or fitted, buttoned Bolero-styled jackets went higher and revealed more of the breeches. By the middle of the century, the waistline returned down to the natural waist. A style of breeches, called rhinegraves, became baggier and gathered below the knees. This style evolved into petticoat breeches, categorised by their full skirts that rested low on the hips and gave the wearer a very showy appearance.
Men's costumes were in some ways toned down during the later half of the century, with men dressing more practically for sporting and life in the country. During the restoration of the English monarchy, King Charles II began to wear a three-piece suit. English men were inspired by this practical outfit, and began dressing in that style. Still, in more regal circumstances, men continued to wear flashy clothing dripping with lace and ruffles. Stockings, made of silk, featured embroidery and drew eyes to the men's dramatic shoes.
Shoes grew in popularity during the 1600s. Styles were heavily influenced by the reigning royals of the time. In England, King Charles wore boots to hide the supports he needed in order to walk. It was not long before men's boots were the hottest fashion. Years later, shoes and stockings replaced boots when breeches topped with a tailored coat became more popular. Toward the end of the century, high heels with flashy red soles and red heels became trendy after Louis XIV of France favoured the style.
At the start of the 1600s and throughout most of the century, men's costumes were only complete with long hair. Some groups of conservative men, however, kept their hair relatively short. Later in the century, men began to powder their hair by adding a sticky substance, then applying flour to the hair. Some men even dyed the flour, leading to pink or blue hair. In the 1670s, Louis XIV went bald and influenced men to begin wearing wigs instead of their own natural hair.
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