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And we laugh at rock stars stuffing socks...

The Corset and the Crinoline full online text describing the history of women's fashion with many a commentary on menswear as well.

"The gentlemen of the period indulged in nether garments so puffed out and voluminous that the legislature was compelled to take the matter in hand. We read of a man who, having been brought before the judges for infringing the law made against these extensive articles of clothing, pleaded the convenience of his pockets as an excuse for his misdemeanour. They appeared, indeed, to have answered to him the purposes both of wardrobe and linen cupboard, for from their ample recesses he drew forth the following articles viz., a pair of sheets, two tablecloths, ten napkins, four shirts, a brush, a glass, a comb, besides nightcaps and other useful things; his defence being' Your worship may understand that because I have no safer storehouse these pockets do serve me for a roome to lay up my goodes in; and though it be a strait prison, yet it is big enough for them.' His discharge was granted, and his clever defence well laughed at."

"In the early past of her reign the doublet and hose had attained a preposterous size, especially the nether garments, which were stuffed and bolstered with wool and hair to such an extent that Strutt tells us, on the authority of one of the Harleian manuscripts, that a scaffold was erected round the interior of the Parliament House for the accommodation of such members as wore them! "

Full Metal Corset: Commonly worn in the 16th Century

Exhibit The Renaissance House at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Fashion Police in History

“In that time,” says honest John Stowe, “he was held the greatest gallant that had the deepest ruff and longest rapier the offence to the eye of the one, and hurt unto the life of the subject that came by the other—this caused her Majestie to make proclamation against them both, and to place selected grave citizens at every gate, to cut the ruffes and breake the rapiers points of all passengers that exceeded a yeard in length of their rapiers, and a nayle of a yeard in depth of their ruffes.” These “grave citizens,” at every gate cutting the ruffs and breaking the rapiers, must doubtless have encountered in their ludicrous employment some stubborn opposition; but this regulation was in the spirit of that age, despotic and effectual. The late Emperor of Russia one day ordered the soldiers to stop every passenger who wore pantaloons, and with their hangers to cut off, upon the leg, the offending part of these superfluous breeches; so that a man’s legs depended greatly on the adroitness and humanity of a Russ or a Cossack: however, this war against pantaloons was very successful, and obtained a complete triumph in favour of the breeches in the course of the week." Anecdotes of Fashion Also see the pdf Curiousities of Fashion.

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Last edited December 6, 2008 (history)

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