Stubbes on Fashion:
Excerpts from Phillip Stubbes ' Anatomie of Abuses, 1583

by Drea Leed



It is not only modern historians and costumers that look upon the fashions of the Elizabethan era as artificial and strange; several Elizabethan writers, usually of a Puritanical bent, agreed wholeheartedly with modern sentiment. Of the multitude of authors who condemned the fashions, the habits and the overall state of contemporary Elizabethan England, none was so long-winded, wide-ranging, detailed and original in his condemnations than Phillip Stubbes.

Stubbes' Anatomie of Abuses in Shakspeare's England, published in 1583 and reprinted four times over the course of the next decade, cataloged in a thorough and methodical fashion every unpleasantness that the author could think to mention. Stubbes inveighed against prostitution, gambling, gaming, dancing, theaters, taverns, drinking, swearing, landlords, lawyers, hunting, and fashionable dress, among other things. As a result, he is a wonderful resource for someone wishing to discover more about the everyday life–and costume–of Elizabethan times.

As a primary source, the Anatomie of Abuses is not the best choice for the historian; Philip Stubbes' ultra-conservative views naturally make the veracity of many (if not most) of his statements suspect, and his blistering condemnations of plays, taverns and cutting-edge fashion must be taken with a large grain of salt. His entertaining tirades, however, contain commonplace details which help to shed light and fill out the details on little-known areas of Elizabethan life, such as prostitution, cheating merchants, and fashionable dress that aren't mentioned in the more esteemed literary works of the time.

It is in the realm of fashion that Stubbes' descriptions are especially valuable. Material and pictoral evidence affirm the the accuracy of Stubbes' detailed enumeration of hats and doublets, lending some credence to his other descriptions of fashionable Elizabethan items of dress. Whether or not it is true that "Every Merchant his Daughter and Cottager his Daughter" goes about in silken petticoats and taffeta kirtles, or that cloaks cost upwards of 20 pounds apiece, the details of the items of dress so condemned are painted in wonderfully clear detail.

The most recent edition of Stubbes' Anatomie of Abuses was published in 1877 and is now, unfortunately, very hard to obtain. Several excerpts and quotes are to be found in subsequent publications on Elizabethan life and costume, but the original 19th century book can usually only be obtained through inter-library loan and is, more often than not, falling apart at the seams. The book itself is a gold mine for the historical costumer; not only does it contain the entire text of Stubbes' Anatomie of Abuses (Books I and II), but it contains appendixes in which the editor, J. Furnivall, has collected and annotated several dozen primary quotations and excerpts relating to Elizabethan fashion from plays, pamphlets, and books written during the end of the 16th century. Woodcuts from Stubbes' original book are also included, as are several illustrations from broadside ballads of the time which also show prevailing fashions.

In an effort to make such a valuable text more widely available to modern historic costumers, I have collected the sections pertaining to costume from the 1877 edition and transcribed them, in as original a form as possible, for perusal. For ease of reading, I have changed the Elizabethan printed f(s) and u(v) to their modern counterparts (faue, for instance, is spelled as "save"), but have otherwise left all spelling intact. For the most part, the phonetic nature of the spelling is easy to decipher; I have included footnotes and a short glossary of period terms at the end to help with translating the more obscure words in Stubbes' vocabulary.

Furnivall included copious footnotes to the text, indicating where the text of the five editions published by Stubbes between 1583 and 1591 diverge; when possible, I have used the more easily readable or "modern" word where editions differ. In two or three instances, where a subsequent edition elaborates in more detail upon a point of costume decoration, I have used the paragraph from the later edition.


The Author

Anyone reading the Anatomie of Abuses can be left with no doubt that Stubbes is of a conservative bent; aside from what is revealed in his publications, however, little is known of him. The dates of his birth and death remain a mystery. It is known that he married a young 15-year-old maid in 1569, and that she died 4 1/2 years later, leaving him with a son baptized John; it is also known that he travelled widely thoughout England, "seuen winters and more". He was a gentleman, either by birth or profession, and a Puritan by faith. He lived in Cheapside in 1593, and is presumed to have survived until at least 1610. He was a prolific writer of conservative pamphlets and books, 11 of which still survive in original form and 8 in later copies.

Stubbes views were considered quite extreme, even by some of his contemporaries. Thomas Nashe, in the introduction to his satirical Anatomie of Absurditie, gave his opinion of Stubbes and similar Puritanical writers quite clearly:

"These men make no other use of learning, but to shewe it...these men seeme learned to none but to Idiots, whom with a coloured shew of zeale, they allure unto them to their illusion, and not to the learned in like sort. I knowe not how it delighteth them to put theyr Oare in..."

Even so, other writers–Babington in his Ten Commandments (1588) and Seven Deadly Sinnes of London (1606), for one–vented similar feelings on women wearing new fashions and painting their faces, on dancing, and on the popular plays of the time. In the end, it is necessary to make one's own judgement about subjective material of this kind.

Anatomie of Abuses, 1583

Stubbes on Hats

Some times they were them sharp on the crowne, pearking up like a sphere, or shafte of a steeple, standing a quarter of a yard above the crowne of their heades; some more, some less, as please the phantasies of their mindes. Othersome be flat and broad on the crowne, like the battlements of a house. Another sort have round crowns, sometimes with one kind of bande, sometime with an other; nowe blacke, nowe white, nowe russet, nowe red, nowe greene, now yellowe, now this, nowe that, never content with one colour or fashion two dayes to an ende. . .And as the fashions bee rare and straunge, so are the thinges wherof their Hattes be made, diverse also; for some are of silke, some of velvet, some of taffetie [taffeta], some of sarcenet, some of wool: and which is more curious, some of a certaine kind of fine haire, far fetched and deare bought, you may be sure; And so common a thinge it is, that everie Servingman, Countreyman, and other, even all indifferently, do weare of these hattes . For he is of no account or estimation amongst men, if hee have not a velvet or a taffatie Hatte, and that muste be pincked and cunningly carved of the beste fashion; And good profitable Hattes bee they, for the longer you weare them the fewer holes they have. Besides this, of late there is a new fashion of wearing their Hattes sprung up amongst them, which they father upon the Frenchmen, namely to weare them without bandes; but how unseemlie (I will not say how Assy) a fashion that is, let the wife judge. Notwithstanding, howe ever it bee, if it please them, it shall not displease me. An other sort (as phantasticall as the rest) are content with no kind of Hatt without a great bunche of feathers of diverse and sundrie colours, peaking on toppe of their heads, not unlyke (I dare not say) Cockscombes, but as sternes of pride and ensigns of vanitie; and these fluttering sayles and fethered flags of defiance to vertue (for so they are) are so advaunced in Ailgna [England] that every Childe hath them in his hat or cap: many get good living by dying and felling of them, and not a fewe proove them selves more than fooles in wearing of them.


Stubbes on Hair

Then followeth the trimming and tricking of their heds in laying out their hair to the show, which of force must be curled, frizled and crisped, laid out on wreathes & borders from one eare to an other. And lest it should fall down, it is underpropped with forks, wyres, & I can not tel what, rather like grim stern monsters, than chaste christian matrones. Then on the edges of their bolstered heir (for it standeth crested round about their frontiers, & hanging over their faces like pendices or vails with glasse windows on every side) there is layd great wreathes of gold and silver, curiously wrought & cunningly applied to the temples of their heads. And for feare of lacking any thing to set foorth their pride withal, at their heyre, thus wreathed and crested, are hanged bugles, ouches, rings, gold, silver, glasses , & such other gewgawes and trinckets besides, which, for that they be innumerable, and I unskilfull in wemens terms, I cannot easily recount.

If curling, & laying out of their own naturall heyre were all, it were the lesse matter; but they are not simply contente with their owne haire, but buy other heyre, dying it of what color they list themselves: and if there be any poore woman that hath faire haire, these nice dames will not rest, till thei have bought it. Or if any children have faire haire, thei will intice them into a secrete place, and for a penie or two, thei will cut of their haire: as I heard that one did in the citie of London of late, who metyng a little child with verie faire haire, invegled her into a house, promised her a penie, and so cutte off her haire. & this they were in the same order as you have heard, as though it weare their owne natural heir: and uppon the other side, if any have heyre which is not faire inough, than will they dye it into dyverse colors, almost chaunging the substance into accidentes by their dyvelish and more than thrice cursed devyses.


Stubbes on Women's Headwear

Than, on toppes of these stately turrets ( I meane their goodly heads wherin is more vanitie than true Philosophie now and than) stand their other capitall ornaments, as french hood, hat, cappe, kercher, and such like; wherof some be of velvet, some of taffetie, some (but few) of woll, some of this fashion, some of that, and some of this color, some of that, according to the variable fantasies of their serpentine minds. And to such excesse it is grown, as every artificers wyfe (almost) wil not stick to go in her hat of Velvet everye day, every marchants wyfe and meane Gentlewomen in her french-hood, and everye poore Cottagers Daughter in her taffatie hat, or else of woll at least, wel lined with silk, velvet or taffatie.

They have also other ornaments besydes these to furnish foorth their ingenious heads, which they cal cawles, made Netwyse, to th' ende, as I thinke, that the clothe of gold, cloth of silver, or else tinsell (for that is the worst) wherwith their heads are covered and attyred withall underneath their cawles maye appeare, and shewe it selfe in the bravest maner. So that a man that seethe them would thinke them to have golden heads. And some weare Lattice cappes with three hornes, three corners I should saie, like the forked cappes of the Popishe Priestes, with their perriwincles, chitterlynges, and the like apishe toyes of infinite varietie.


Stubbes on Earrings

Another sorte of dissolute minions & wanton Sempronians (for I can term them no better) are so far bewitched, as they are not ashamed to make holes in their eares, wherat they hang rings, and other Jewels of gold and precious stones. But what this signifieth in thgem I will houlde my peace, for the thing it selfe speaketh sufficiently. But because this is not so much frequented amongest Women as Men, I will say noe more thereof, until l further occasion be offred.


Stubbes on Make-up

The women of Ailgna use to colour their faces with certain oyles, liquors, unguents and waters made to that end, whereby they think their beautie is greatly decored : ...I holde this for a Maxime, that they are made of many mixtures, and sundry compounde simples, bothe farre fetched and deer bought, cunningly couched together, and tempered with many goodly condiments and holsome confections, I warrant you.


Stubbes on Ruffs

They have great and monsterous ruffes, made either of Camericke, Holland, Lawne, or els of some other the finest cloth that can be got for money, whereof some be a quarter of a yard deep, yea, some more, very few lesse; So that they stand a full quarter of a yarde (and more) from their necks, hanging over their shoulder poynts, instead of a vaile. But if Aeolus with his blasts, or Neptune with his stormes chaunce to hit uppon the crafie bark of their brused ruffes, then they goe flip flap in the winde, like rags flying abroad, and lye upon their shoulders like the dishcloute of a slut. But wot you what? The devil, as he in the fulnes of his malice, first invented these great ruffes, so hath hee now found out also two great stayes to beare up and maintaine that his kingdome of great ruffs : the one arch or piller wherby his kingdome of great ruffes is underpropped, is a certaine kinde of liquide matter which they call Starch, wherin the devill hath willed them to wash and dive his ruffes wel, which when they be dry, wil then stand stiffe and inflexible about their necks. The other piller is a certain device made of wyers, crested for the purpose, whipped over either with gold, thred, silver or silk, and this hee calleth a supportasse, or underpropper. This is to be applyed round about their necks under the ruffe, upon the out side of the band, to beare up the whole frame and body of the ruffe from falling and hanging down....

So few have them, as almost none is without them; for every one, how meane or simple soever they bee otherwise, will have of them three or foure apeece for sayling. And as though Cambrick, Holland, Lawne, and the finest cloth that maye bee got any where for money, were not good inough, they have them wrought all over with silke woorke, and peradventure laced with golde and silver, or other costly lace of no small price. And whether they have Argente to mayntaine this geare withall, or not, it forceth not much, for they will have it by one meane or another, or else they will eyther sell or morgage their Landes (as they have good store) on Suters hill & Stangate hole, with losse of their lives at Tiburne in a rope. & in sure token thereof, they have now newly found out a more monstrous kind of ruffe of xii. (12) , yea, xvi (16) lengthes a peece, set 3 or 4 times double, & is of some, fitlie called: "Three steppes and a halfe to the Gallowes".

The women there [in Ailgna] use great ruffes, & neckerchers of holland, lawne, camerick, and such cloth, as the greatest thred shall not be so bigge as the least haire that is: then, least they should fall down, they are smeared and starched in the devils liquore, I meane Starch: after that, dryed with great diligence, streaked, patted and rubbed very nicely, and so applyed to their goodly necks, and, withall, underpropped with supportasses (as I tolde you before) the stately arches of pride: beyond all this they have a further fetch, nothing inferiour to the rest; as, namely, three or foure degrees of minor ruffes, placed gradatim, step by step, one beneath the other, and all under the Maister devil ruffe. The skyrts, then, of these great ruffes are long and wide every way, pleted and crested ful curiously, God wot. Then, last of all, they are either clogged with golde, silver, or silk lace of stately price, wrought all over with needle woork, speckled and sparkled heer and there with the sonne, the moone, the starres, and many other antiquities straunge to beholde. Some are wrought with open woork down to the midst of the ruffe and further, some with purled lace so cloyd, and other gewgawes so pestered, as the ruffe is the least parte of it self. Sometimes they are pinned up to their eares, sometimes they are suffered to hang over their shoulders, like windmil sayles fluttering in the winde; and thus every one pleaseth her self with her foolish devices, for suus cuiusque crepitus sibi bene olet, as the proverb saith: "every one thinketh his own wayes best".


Stubbes on Shirts

Their Shirtes, which all in a manner doe weare (for if the Nobilitie or Gentrie onely did weare them, it were somedeal more tolerable) are eyther of Cambricke, Holland, Lawn, or els of the finest cloth that maye bee got. And of these kindes of Shirts everie one now doth weare alike: so as it may be thoght our Forefathers have made their Bandes & Ruffes ( if they had any at all) of grosser cloth and baser stuffe than the worst of our shirtes are made of nowadayes. And these shurts are wrought through out with nedle work of silke, and such like, and curiouslie stitched with open seame, and many other knackes besydes, more than I can describe. In so much as I have heard of Shirtes that have cost some ten shillings, some twentie, some fortie, some five pound, some twentie Nobles and (which is horrible to heare) some ten pound a peece, yea, the meanest shirt that commonly is worne of any, doest cost a crowne, or a noble at the least: and yet this is scarsly thought fine enough for the simplest person that is.



Stubbes on Doublets

Their dublettes are noe lesse monstrous than the reste; For now the fashion is to have them hang down to the middle of their theighes, or at least to their privie members, beeing so harde-quilted, and stuffed, bombasted and sewed, as they can neither woorke, nor yet well plaie in them, through the excessive heate thereof: and therefore are forced to wear them loose about them for the most part: otherwise they could verie hardly eyther stoupe downe, or bowe themselves to the grounde, soe styffe and sturdy they stand about them.

Now, what handsomnes can be in these dubblettes which stand on their bellies like, or muche bigger than, a mans codpeece ( so as their bellies are thi their bellies are thicker than all their bodyes besyde) let wyse men judge; For for my parte, handsomnes in them I see none, and muche lesse profyte. And to be plaine, I never sawe any weare them, but I supposed him to be a man inclined to gourmandice, gluttonie, and such like.

For what may these great bellies signifie else than that either they are such, or els are affected that way? ...For certain I am there was never any kinde of appatell ever invented that could more disproportion the body of man than these Dublets with great bellies, hanging down beneath their Pudenda (as I have said), & stuffed with foure, five or six pound of Bombast at the least. I say nothing of what their Dublets be made, some of Saten, Taffatie, silk, Grograine, Chamlet, gold, silver, & what not; slashed, jagged, cut, carved, pincked and laced with all kinde of costly lace of divers and sundry colours, for if I should stand upon these particularities, rather time then matter would be wanting.

The Women also there have dublets & Jerkins, as men have heer, buttoned up the brest, and made with wings, welts, and pinions on the shoulder points, as mans apparel is for all the world, and though this be a kinde of attire appropriate onely to man, yet they blush not to wear it...


Stubbes on Old-Fashioned Dress

I have heard my Father, with other wyse Sages affirme, that in his tyme, within the compasse of foure or five score yeres, when men went clothed in black or white frize coates, in hosen of Huswyves carzie of the same color, that the sheep bore them (the want of making and wering of which clothe, together with the excessive wearing of silks, velvets, satens, damasks, taffeties, and such like, hath and doth make many a thousand in Ailgna as poore mendicants to begge their bread) wherof some were strait to the thigh, othersome little bigger: and when they ware shurts of hempe or flax (but now these are to grosse, our tender stomacks cannot easilye digest such rough and crude meats) men were stronger than we, helthfuller, fayrer complectioned, longer lyving, and finallye, ten times harder than we...


Stubbes 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 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.


Stubbes on Coats & Jerkins

Their coates and Jerkins, as they be diverse in colors, so be they diverse in fashions; for some be made with colors, some without, some close to the bodie, some loose, covering the whole body downe to the theighe, like baggs or sacks that weare drawen over them, hidinge the dimensions and proportions of the body: some are buttened down the brest, some under the arm, and some downe the back; some with flappes over the brest, some without, some with great sleeves, some with small, and some with non at all; some pleated and crested behind, and curiously gathered; some not so; & how many days so many sortes of apparell some one man will have, and thinketh it good provision in faire weather to lay up against a storme! But if they would consider tht their clothes be non of theirs, but the poores, they would not heap up their presses and wardrobes as they do. God commandeth in his law, that there be no miserable poore man, nor beggar amongest us, but that every one be provided for and maintained of that abundance which God hath blessed us withal. But we thinke it a great matter if we geve them an old ragged coate, dublet, or a paire of hosen, or els a penny or two...


Stubbes on Cloaks

They have clokes there also in nothing different from the rest, of dyverse and sundry colors, white, red, tawnie, black, greene, yellowe, russet, purple, violet, and infynite other colors: some of cloth, silk, velvet, taffetie, and such like, wherof some be of the Spanish, French & Dutch fashion: Some short, scarcely reaching to the gyrdlestead, or waist, some to the knee, and othersome trayling uppon the ground (almost) liker gownes than clokes. Then are thei garded with Velvette gardes, or els laced with costly lace, either of golde, silver, or at leaste of silke three or fower fingers broad doune the back, about the skirts, and every where els. And now of late they use to garde their clokes rounde about the skirtes with bables, I should saie Bugles, and other kinde of glasse, and all to shine to the eye. Besides al this, thei are so faced, and withal so lined as the inner side standeth almost in as much as the outside: some have sleeves, othersome have none; some have hoodes to pull over the head, some have none; some are hanged with points and tassels of gold, silver, or silk withal, some without al this. But how soever it be, the day hath been when one might have bought him two clokes for lesse than now he can have one of these clokes made for, they have such store of workmanship bestowed uppon them.


Stubbes on Hose

Then have they Hosen, which as they be of divers fashions, so are they of sundry names. Some be called french-hose, some gally-hose, and some Venitians. The french-hose are of two divers makings, for the common french-hose (as they list to call them) containeth length, breadth, and widnes sufficient, and is made very rounde. The other contayneth neither length, breadth nor widenes (beeing not past a a quarter of a yard wide) wherof some be paned, cut and drawne out with costly ornaments, with canions adjoined reaching down beneath their knees.

The Gally-hosen are made very large and wide, reaching downe to their knees onely, with three or foure guardes a peece laid down along either hose. And the Venetian-hosen, they reach beneath the knee to the gartering place to the Leg, where they are tyed finely with silk points, or some such like, and laied on also with rewes of laces, or gardes as the other before. And yet notwithstanding all this is not sufficient, except they be made of silk, velvet, saten, damask, and other such precious things beside: yea, every one, Serving man and other inferiour to them, in every condition, wil not stick to flaunte it out in these kinde of hosen, with all other their apparel sutable therunto.

In times past, Kings would not disdaine to weare a paire of hosen of a Noble, tenne Shillinges, or a Marke price, with all the rest of their apparel after the same rate; but now it is a small matter to bestowe twentie nobles, ten pound, twentie pound, fortie pound, yea, a hundred pound on one paire of Breeches.


Stubbes on Boot-hose

They have also boothose which are to be wondered at; for they be of the fynest cloth that may be got, yea, fine inough to make any band, ruffe or shyrt needful to be worn: yet this is bad inough to were next their greasie boots. And would God this weare all: but they must be wrought all over, from the gartering place upward, with nedle worke, clogged with silk of all colors, with birds, foules, beasts, and antiques purtrayed all over in comlie sorte. So that I have knowen the very nedle work of some one payre of these bootehose to stand, some in iiii pound, vi pound, and some in x pound a peece. Besides this, they are made so wyde to draw over all, and so longe to reach up to the waste, that as litle, or less, clothe would make one a reasonable large shurte. But tush! This is nothing in comparison of the reste.


Stubbs on Stockings

Then have they nether-stocks to these gay hosen, not of cloth (though never so fine) for that is thought to base, but of Jarnsey worsted, crewel silk, thred, and such like, or els at the least of the finest yarn that can be, and so curiously knit with open seam down the leg, with quirks and clocks about the ancles, and sometime interlaced with gold or silver threds, as is wunderful to behold. And to such insolency and outrage it is now grown, that every one (almost), though otherwise verie poor, having scarce fortie shillings of wages by the yeer, wil be sure to have two or three paire of these silk neither-stocks, or else of the finest yarne that may be got, though the price of them be a Royal or twentie shillings or more, as commonly it is; for how can they be lesse, when as the very knitting of them is worth a noble or a royall, and some much more? The time hath beene when one might have clothed all his body well for less than a pair of these neither-stocks wil cost.

Their [Women's] netherstockes, in like maner, are either of silke gearnsey, worsted, crewell, or, at least, of as fyne yarn, thread, or cloth, as is possible to be had, yea, thei are not ashamed to weare hose of all kinde of chaungable colours, as greene, red, white, russet, tawny, and els what, which wanton light colours, any sober chaste Christian can hardly, without any suspicion of lightnesse, at any tyme weare; Then these delicate hosen must bee cunningly knit and curiously indented in every point with quirkes, clockes, open seame, and every thing els accordingly: wherto they have corked shooes, pincnets, pantoffles, and slippers, some of black velvet, some of white, some of greene, and some of yellowe; some of spanish leather, and some of English lether, stitched with silk, and imbrodered with Gold and silver all over the foote, with other gewgawes innumerable.


Stubbes on Shoes

To these their nether-stocks, they have corked shooes, pincnets, and fine pantofles, which beare them up a finger or two inches or more from the ground; wherof some be of white leather, some of black, and some of red, some of black velvet, some of white, some of red, some of green, raced, carved, cut and stitched all over with silk, and laid on with golde, silver, and such like: yet, notwithstanding, to what good uses serve these pantofles, except it be to wear in a private house, or in a man's chamber to keepe him warme? (for this is the onely use wherto they best serve in my judgement) but to go abroad in them, as they are now used al together, is rather a let or hinderance to a man then otherwise; for shall he not be faine to knock and spurn at every stone, wall or post to keep them on his feet? Wherfore, to disclose even the bowels of my judgement unto you, I think they be rather worne abrode for nicenes, then either for any ease which they bring (for the contrary is moste true), or for any handsomnes which is in them. For how should they be easie, when a man can not goe steadfastly in them, without slipping and sliding at every pace ready to fall doune: Againe how should they be easie where as the heele hangeth an inch or two over the slipper on the ground? Insomuch as I have knowen divers mens legs swel with the same. And handsome how should they be, when as with their flipping and flapping up and down in the dirte they exaggerate a mountain of mire, & gather a heape of clay & baggage together, loding the wearer with importable burthen, casting up mire to the knees of the wearer.


Stubbes on Women's Accessories

Their fingers are decked with gold, silver and precious stones, their wrists with bracelets and armlets of gold, and other preciouse Jewels: their hands are covered with their sweet washed gloves, improdered with gold, silver and what not; & to such abhomination is it grown, as they must have their looking glasses caryed with them whersoever they go. And good reason, for els how could they see the devil in them? And above al things they must have their silk scarffes cast about their faces, and fluttering in the winde, with great tassels at every end, either of gold, silver or silk. But i know wherfor they wil say they weare these scarfes; namely, to keep them from Sunburning;

When they use to ride abrod, they have invisories, or masks, visors made of velvet, wherwith they cover all their faces, having holes made in them against their eyes, whereout they look. So that if a man, that knew not their guise before, should chaunce to meet one of them, he would think hee met a monster or a devil; for face hee can see none, but two brode holes against her eyes with glasses in them.


Stubbes on Drapers

Of Drapers I have little to say, saving that I think them cater cosins, or cosin germans to the merchants. For after they have bought their cloth, they cause it to be tentered, racked, and so drawne out, as it shall be both broader and longer than it was when they bought it almost by halfe in halfe, or at lest by a good large sise . Now the cloth being thus stretched forth in every vaine, how is it possible either to endure or hold out; but when a shower of raine taketh it, then it falleth and shrinketh in, that it is shame to see it. Then have they their shops and places where they fell their cloth commonly very darke and obscure, of purpose to decieve the buiers. But Caveat emptor, (as the old saieng is) Let the buiers take heed. For Technas machinant, & retia tendant pedibus, as the saieng is: ' They meane deciet, and lay snares to intrap the feet of the simple.' And yet notwithstanding, they will be sure to make the price of their racked cloth, double and triple more than it cost them. And will not sticke to sweare, and take on (as the other their confraters before) that it cost them so much, and that they doe you no wrong. God give them grace to have an eie to their consciences, and to content themselves with reasonable gaines.


Stubbes on Clothmakers

For some [Clothmakers] put in naughty wool, and cause it to be spun and drawne into a very small thred, and then compounding with the Fuller to thicke it very much, and with the Clothier also to sheare it very lowe, and with some liquide matter to lay downe the wooll so close, as you can hardly see any wale, and then selleth it as though it were a very fine cloth indeed. Other some mixe good wooll and naughty wooll togither, and using it as before, they will sell it for principall good cloth, when it is no thing lesse. And then for their further advantage, every vaine, every joint, and every thred must be so tentered and racked, as I warrant it for ever being good after. Now, it being thus tentered at his hands, and after at the Drapers handes, I pray you how should this cloth be ought, or endure long?


Stubbes on Tailors

For the taylers doe nothing else but invent new fashions, disguised shapes, and monstrous formes of apparell every day. Yea surely I thinke they studie more in one day for the invention of new toies, and strange devises in apparell, than they doe in seaven yeeres, yea, in all the daies of their life, for the knowledge of God's word.

But so far are they from making conscience hereof, that they heape up sinne upon sinne. For if a man aske them how much cloth, velvet, or silke wil make a cote, a dublet, a cloke, a gowne, hosen, or the like, they must needs have so much, as they may gaine the best quarter thereof to themselves. So play they with the lace also: for if tenne yards would serve, they must have twentie; if twentie would serve, they must have fortie; if fortie would serve, they must have sixtie; if sixtie would serve, they must an hundred, and so forward. Besides that, it must be so drawne out, stretched, and pulled in in the sowing, as they get the best quarter of it that way too. Then must there as much go for the making, as halfe the garment is woorth. Besides this, they are in league, and in fee, with the Drapers and Clothsellers, that if a man come to them to desire them to helpe them to buy a peece of cloth, and to bring them where good is, they will straightaway conduct them to their feer, and whatsoever price hee setteth of the cloth, they persuade the buier it is good, and that it is woorth the money, whereas indeed it is nothing so, nor so. And thys they betwixt them divide the spoile, and he (the tailor) receives his wages for a faithfull service done. If a man buy a garment of them made, hee shall have it very faire to the eie (therefore it is true: Omne quod gliscit non est aurum, Everie faire thing is not the best) but either it shall be lined with filthie baggage, and rotten geare, or else stretched and drawn out upon the tenter, so as if they once come to wetting, they shrinke almost halfe in halfe, so as it is a shame to see them. Therefore I advise everyone to see to is garments himselfe, and according to the old proverbe : Sit oculus ipsi coquus, Let his eie be his best cooke, for feare lest he be served of the same sauce, as manie have been to their great hindrance.


Stubbes on Ruff-makers (dialogue)

Amphil: ...And if it be true, as I heare say, they have their starching houses made of purpose, to that use and end only, the better to trimme and dresse their ruffes to please the divels eies withall.

Theod.: Have they starching houses of purpose made to starch in? Now truly that passes of all that ever I heard. And do they nothing in those brothell houses (starching houses I shuld say) but only starch bands and ruffs?

Amphil.: No, nothing else, for to that end only were they erected, and therefore now are consecrate to Belzebub and Cerberus, archdivels of great ruffes.

Theod.: Have they not also houses to set their ruffes in, to trim them, and to trick them, as well as to starch them in?

Amphil.: Yea, marry have they, for either the same starching houses (I had almost said farting houses) do serve the turn, or else they have their other chambers and secret closets to the same use, wherein they tricke up these cartweels of the divels charet of pride, leading the direct way to the dungeon of hell.

Theod.: What tooles and instruments have they to set their ruffes withall. For I am persuaded they cannot set them artificially inough without some kind of tooles?

Amphil. : They be made of yron and steele, and some of brasse kept as bright as silver, yea, and some of silver it selfe; and it is well, if in processe of time they grow not to be gold. The fashion whereafter they be made, I cannot resemble to anything so well as to a squirt, or a squibbe, which little children used to squirt out water withall; and when they come to starching, and setting of their ruffes then must this instrument be heated in the fire, the better to stiffen the ruffe. For you know heate will drie and stiffen any thing. And if you would know the name of this goodly toole, forsooth the devill hath given it to name a putter, or else a putting sticke, as I hear say. They have also another instrument called a setting sticke, either of wood or bone, and sometimes of gold and silver, made forked wise at both ends, and with this (Si diis placet) they set their ruffes. But bicause this cursed fruit is not yet grown to his full perfection of ripeness, I will therefore at this time say no more of it, until I have more.


Stubbes on Leatherworkers

And yet I must needes confesse, there is great abuse in the tanners, makers, curriers, and dressers of the same: for you shall have some leather scarcely halfe tanned, so that within two or three daies or a week wearing (especially if it come in any weat) wil straight-way become browne as a hare backe, and which is more, sleete and run abroad like a dishclout, and which is most of all, will holde out no water, or very little. And the saying is that to the ende they may save lyme and barke, and make the speedier returne of their mony, they will take up their hides before they bee halfe tanned, and make sale of them. And as herein they are faultie and much to be blamed, so in the surprising of their hides, they are worthie of reprehension. For that which they buy for ten shillings, they will hardly sell for twentie shillings; that which they buy for twentie shillings they will not willingly sell for fortie shillings. And thus by this meanes, they make shooes unreasonable deere.


Stubbes on Shoemakers

There is fault inough in them [Shoemakers] also. For whereas the others inhanse the price of their hides excessively, these felowes racke it very unconscionably. And yet if the shooes were good, though deere, it were somwhat tollerable; but when they shall be both naught, and yet deere too, it is too bad, and abhominable. Now if you ask the shoomakers in whom the fault doth consist, they will answere you strait, in the tanner. But this is certaine, that as there is a horrible fault in the tanner, so there is more, or as much in the shoomaker. For first of all the shoomaker liquoreth his leather, with waterish liquor, kit-then stuff, and all kinde of baggage mingled togither. And as though that were not ill inough, they saie they use to put salt in the liquor, wherewithall they grease the leather of purpose, to the end that the leather shal never hold out water. And trulie it is very likelie they do so, or some such like thing, for surelie almost none of their leather will holde out water, nor scarselie durt neither. Besides this, it is a worlde to see how lowsely they shall be sowed, with hotte alles, and burning threedes, everie stitch an inch or two from another, so as within two or three daies you shall have them seamerent and all to betorn. And yet as though this were not ill inoughe, they adde more. Sometimes they will sell you calves leather for cow leather, horse hides for oxe hides, and truelie I think rotten sheepe skins for good substantial and dureable stuffe. And yet shall a man pay for these as well as for better stuffe. And to the ende they may seeme gaudie to the eie, they must be stitched finelie, pincked, cutte, karved, rased, nickt, and I cannot tell what. And good reason, for else would they never be sold. The inwarde soole of the shooe commonlie shall be no better than a cattes skinne, the heeles of the shooes shall be little better. And if the sooles be not (as they be indeede) yet must they be underlaied with other peeces of leather, to make them seeme thicke and excellent stuffe, whereas indeede they are nothing lesse. And to make the sools stiffe, and harde, they must be parched before the fire, and then they are the most excellent sooles, And such as will never be worne, no, I think not in halfe a coopple of daies, which is a woonderfull thing.

But now five or sixe paire, half a score, yea, twentie paire of shooes will scarcely serve some a yeere, such excellent stuff are they made of.


Stubbes on Clothing Brokers

They will refuse nothing, whatsoever it be, nor whom-soever bringeth it, though they be never to suspitious, no, although it be as cleere as the day, that it hath beene purloined by sinister means from one or other. And can you blame them. For why? They have it for halfe it is woorth.

But especially they buy remnants of silks, velvet, satins, damasks, grograins, taffeties, lace, either of silke, gold, silver, or any thing else that is worth ought. Othersome buy cloakes, hosen, dublets, hats, caps, coates, stockings and the like. And these goodly marchandize, as they have them good cheape, so they will sel them againe to their no small gaines.

This maketh many a tailer to aske more cloth, more silk, velvet & lace, than he nedeth, & all to the ende the broker may have his share; for, be they never so litle scraps or threds or short ends of lace, or smal peces of velvet, satan, silk or the like, the broker will give money for them, with a wet finger. This maketh many servants to pilfer, filch, & purloin from their masters, some a yard or two of velvet, satin, taffety, lace, silk & what not, some hats, cots, cloks, & the like, & some one thing, some another: this hindereth the merchant man, is discomodious to the tailer, & beneficial unto none, but to themselves.


Stubbes on Barbers

There are no finer fellowes under the sunne, nor experter in their noble science of barbing than they be. And therefore in the fulnes of their overflowing knowledge they have invented such strange fashions and monstrous maners of cuttings, trimmings, shavings and washings, that you would wonder to see. They have one maner of cut called the French cut, another the Spanish cut, one the Dutch cut, another the Italian, one the newe cut, another the old, one of the bravado fashion, another of the meane fashion. One a gentlemans cut, another the common cut, one cut of the court, an other of the country, with infinite the like vanities, which I overpasse. They have also other kinds of cuts innumerable; and therefore when you come to be trimed, they will aske you whether you will be cut to looke terrible to your enimie, or amiable to your freend, grime & sterne in countenance, or pleasant & demure ( for they have divers kinds of cuts for all these purposes, or else they lie.) Then, when they have done al their feats, it is a world to consider, how their mowchatowes must be preserved and laid out, from one cheke to another, yea, almost from one eare to another, and turned up like two hornes towards the forehead. Besides that, when they come to the cutting of the haire, what snipping & snapping of the cycers is there, what tricking and toying, and al to tawe out mony, you may be sure. And when they come to washing, oh how gingerly they behave themselves therein. For then shall your mouth be boffed with the lather, or some that riseth of the balles (for they have their sweete balles wherewith-all they use to washe); your eyes closed must be anointed therewith also. Then snap go the fingers, ful bravely, god wot. Thus this tragedy ended, comes me warme clothes, to wipe and dry him withall; next, the eares must be picked, and closed togither again artificially forsooth. The haire of the nostrils cut away, and every thing done in order comely to behold...You shall have also your orient perfumes for your nose, your fragrant waters for your face, wherewith you shall bee all to besprinkled: your musick againe, and pleasant harmonie, shall sound in your eares, and all to tickle the same with vaine delight. And in the end your cloke shall be brushed, and "God be with you Gentleman!"

Glossary of Terms




Baggage=Also known as cabbage. scraps left over from cutting cloth, taken by tradition by a tailor as part of his payment.

Bombast=stuffing for doublets& jerkins; usually horsehair-based.

Bugles=thin, cylindrical glass beads


Cambricke=Cambric, a fine linen fabric.

Camerick ( See Cambricke)

Carzie=a type of plain, homespun fabric

Chamlet = Camlet, a fine, close-woven woolen cloth

Clocks=a decorated section of stockings, usually on the outside the ankle.


Dishcloute = Dishcloth


Fain=try to

Felling=curling& making full (feathers); fulling (wool)

Fetch=fancy, novelty

Frize=Frieze. A wool fabric.

Gards (see Guardes)

Gearnsey (See Jarnsey)

Grograine=Grograin–a fine ribbed fabric.

Grogram (see Grograine)

Guardes = wider bands of fabric, plain or embroidered & decorated, applied to outer garments. Often at the bottom of skirts & capes and upon sleeves.



Holland=a very fine linen fabric, used for veiling, smocks, coifs, ruffs.

Jarnsey=Jersey, a fine yarn

Lawne=fine linen fabric, commonly used for undergarments, coifs & ruffs.




Nice=petty, trivial, superficial

Othersome= others

Pearking = peaked, pointed

Pincked = Pinking–small decorative shapes or slashes cut into fabric

Points= ribbons or cords tipped with metal/glass tips (aglets), used to tie doublets to hose, sleeves to gowns, etc.


Sarcenet=a fine silken fabric, often used for puffs in doublets & gowns


Scarlet=a common, plain fabric of Elizabethan times–not scarlet in color.

Seamerent=seam-rent, ripped seams






Tawnie=a golden brown color, very popular during Elizabethan times.



Tinsel=a metallic fabric, less expensive than cloth of gold or silver.



Welts=narrow bands of plain or embroidered fabric appliqued onto a doublet, gown,etc.

Woll = Wool

Worsted = a wool fabric of tightly-spun long stable wool. (Gabardine is a modern worsted).