On Women's Dress

There Gownes be no lesse famous also; for some are of silk, some of velvet, some of grogram, some of taffatie, some of scarlet, and some of fine cloth, of ten, twentie, or fortie shillings a yard. But if the whole gowne be not silke or velvet, then the same shall be layed with lace, two or three fingers broade, all over the gowne, or els the moste parte.
Or, if not so (as lace is not fine enough sometimes), then it must be garded with great gards of velvet, every gard foure or six fingers broad at the least, and edged with costly lace; and as these gownes be of divers and sundrie colors, so are they of divers fashions, changing with the Moon, for some be of the new fashion, some of the olde, some of this fashion, and some of that, some with sleeves hanging down to their skirts, trayling on the ground, and cast over their shoulders, like Cow-tayles.
Some have sleeves much shorter, cut up the arme, drawne out with divers and sundry colours and pointed with silk-ribbons very gallantly, tyed with true-looves knottes (for so they call them).
Some have Capes reaching downe to the middest of their backs, faced with Velvet, or els with some fine wroght silk Taffatie at the least, and fringed about very brauvely; & (to shut up all in a word) some are pleated & crested down the back wonderfully, with more knacks than I can declare. Than have they petticots of the best cloth that can be bought, and of the fairest dye that can be made. And sometimes they are not of cloth niether, for that is thought to base, but of scarlet, grograin, taffatie, silk and such like, fringed about the skirts with silk fringe of chaungable coloure. But which is more vayn, of whatsoever their petticots be, yet must they have kirtles (for so they call them), either of silk, velvet, grograin, taffatie, saten, or scarlet, bordered with gards, lace, fringe, and I cannot tell what besydes. So that when they have all these goodly robes uppon them, women seeme to be the smallest part of themselves, not natural women...so farre hath this cancker of pride eaten into the body of the common welth, that every poore Yeoman his Daughter, every Husbandman his daughter, & every Cottager his Daughter, will not spare to flaunt it out in such gownes, petticots, & kirtles as these. And not withstanding that their Parents owe a brace of hundred pounds more than they are worth, yet will they have it, quo iure quave inivria, eyther by hooke or crooke, by right or wrong, as they say, wherby it commeth to passe that one can scarcly know who is a noble woman, who is an honorable or worshipfull Woman, from them of the meaner sort.

Citation Type  Prose
Citation Year 1583