Album de la Mode Illustrée – A guide

I love browsing through fashion plates for inspiration. Although not always a perfect representation of what was ‘normal’ during an era, you can get a very good idea of what was ideal. This means loads of very pretty dresses, a good look at the ideal silhouette, and a picture of a full ‘look’ including accessories.

Hat, gloves, fan, umbrella, collar. Very important for finishing a look!

 

Those who’ve been following my blog might have noticed that the most recent inspiration posts with fashion plates were all from the same series. This is a version of the Album de la Mode Illustrée, and it’s probably my favorite of all series I’ve seen. There are multiple versions of this album around, but this particular one is special because of the beautiful watercolors. It also runs from 1861 to 1895, so covers a solid part of the Victorian era.

One of the earliest plates. I have a weakness for black lace on a light fabric, so love this dress.

 

The next question is of course: where can I find them?

All fashion plates are online in high resolution, courtesy of of the Bunka Gakuen Library. You need to do some searching on the website though, and once in the album there’s no direct way to search for a certain year. There are shortcuts though, and I have found a way to find a specific year, so the rest of this post is a guide towards finding what you want from this amazing source!

Firstly, the website, which is here

To find the album, a quick way is to go to ‘fashion plates’, and then go to ‘Nineteenth century’. This will give a list of fashion plate albums, the watercolor one is the ‘Album de la Mode Illustrée’ is at the top at number 1.

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This will bring you to an overview of the plates. To get the full size picture, click on the thumbnail, you then get a slightly larger version.

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There is a larger version though, which you can get to by simply clicking on the image. Pretty details galore!

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To browse through the images, it is easiest to use the thumbnail view. You can leaf through the album using the numbers at the top.

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The only difficulty left is finding what date a plate is, as it’s not actually on the picture, and there’s no info per image.

Very pretty, but what year is this?

 

However, there’s an easy way to do it anyway, using the file numbers! As you can see in the screenshots, there’s a filename beneath each thumbnail. This filename consists of 3 numbers. Let’s take the first fashion plate, which has number 014-0001-002.jpg.

The 014 is the same for all, probably this refers to the album itself. The second number is the most interesting, as it refers to the ‘book’ in the series. Luckily for us, there’s one book per year, so this number can be used to find what year a picture is in! The last number is the number of the individual picture within that year.

So in this case, the number 1 refers to 1861. However, 1862 is missing, so the number 2 is 1863. To make it a little less confusing, I’ve made a table to look up what numbers refer to what year.

In this table, the first column is the year. The second is the number of fashion plates in the album for that year. The Start ID is the middle number in the file name. So if you have a filename with 0021 in the middle, it will be a plate from 1882.

Year Number of plates Start ID Pagenr start (all)
1861 47 0001 1
1863 49 0002 6
1864 40 0003 11
1865 48 0004 15
1866 50 0005 20
1867 49 0006 25
1868 50 0007 30
1869 50 0008 35
1870 52 0009 40
1871 52 0010 46
1872 52 0011 51
1873 52 0012 57
1874 52 0013 62
1875 52 0014 68
1876 52 0015 73
1877 52 0016 79
1878 52 0017 85
1879 52 0018 91
1880 52 0019 97
1881 52 0020 102
1882 53 0021 109
1883 52 0022 115
1884 52 0023 121
1885 52 0024 127
1886 52 0025 133
1887 52 0026 138
1888 53 0027 144
1889 52 0028 151
1890 52 0029 157
1891 52 0030 163
1892 52 0031 169
1893 53 0032 175
1894 53 0033 181
1895 50 0034 187
1896 52 0035 192

 

There’s a final column in this table, to help make the searching even easier. This number is the page number when browsing through the thumbnails, where this year begins. (After the red cover picture). The page numbers are the numbers within the red box on the screenshot below. So  for example, if you want to find plates from 1893, you need to go to page 181. As you can see below, you initially don’t see this number. Just click on ‘180’, and then the 10 pages before and after will also show up.

Just be careful to not click on the ‘Plates only’ button under the thumbnails, as this will remove the album cover/backs, and therefore mess up the page numbers.

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Have fun browsing, and one final pretty to finish up!

 

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Oorijzers – ‘Ear-irons’ – Part 2

Time for part 2! In my first post about oorijzers I shared the history, what the original oorijzers were and looked liked, as well as one example of how they continued to exist to the early 20th century. The oorijzer is currently best known for its part in various regional costumes in the Netherlands. So for this post, an attempted overview of how and where the oorijzer evolved from the 16th/17th century practical object to the many variations we have today. Prepare for a lot of pictures!

Regional costume

To start this post, a little map of places I’ll be discussing!

netherlands-303419_960_720_zpsjgliynel (506x600)

The regions best known for their oorijzers in traditional costume are Friesland (a province in the very north) and Zeeland (a province in the very south). It stuck around in several other places as well though, surviving in the traditional costume of towns like Urk and Staphorst. These towns have their own traditional costume worn very locally. Staphorst sees women wearing traditional clothing on a daily base up to today. The oorijzer evolved in different ways in different places, so you can usually tell which oorijzer comes from which place and which period. I’ll be discussing the most well-known of traditional costumes with oorijzers. Just as a quick disclaimer, these aren’t the only places with an oorijzer in the past of their traditional costume, just the ones most familiar (to me) and well known.

Let’s start with the costume from the Zaanstreek. This is a region above Amsterdam and the traditional costume died out in the early 20th century. It had it’s own typical headwear, which stayed nearly the same during the 18th and 19th centuries. The rest of the clothing largely kept following regular fashion.

This is a 19th century image of the 18th century costume

Zaanstreek, ca. 1790. Visitetoilet. kunstenaar:   Duyvetter, Jan 1948 #NoordHolland #Zaanstreek

Source: Het geheugen van Nederland. Drawing by Duyvetter

The oorijzer  was gold, quite a bit wider than the 17th century version and has large golden plates to the sides. Its worn fairly straight across the back of the head and is not so much a practical thing as a piece of jewelry.

An oorijzer from 1834. You can see the gorgeous filligree on the plates.

 

And a picture from the costume group the ‘Zaanse Kaper’, this is a reproduction of the 18th century costume. She’s also wearing a ‘voorhoofdsnaald’ (the thing across her forhead), two ‘zijnaalden’ (the two ‘needle’ things at the top, you can only see one) and pins behind the plates of the oorijzer. These pin the cap to the oorijzer.

Source: Zaanse Kaper

 

Another village which managed to keep it’s traditional costume despite nearness to a big city is Scheveningen. Now technically a part of the Hague, it used to be a fishing village. The costume has nearly died out, being worn only by a handful of elderly ladies today. There are several groups (from museums or choirs) which keep the knowledge about the clothing alive.

In Scheveningen the oorijzer today is silver with golden knobs. It has a distinctive shape and is used very much to give the cap it’s shape.The golden knobs are worn very close together high on the head.

In the 18th century the oorijzer was mostly silver with golden knobs, which were sometimes decorated with golden ‘bells’, jewels which would hang from the knobs. In the 19th century, some golden oorijzers also existed along side the silver ones. The knobs also took various shapes, settling on the round ones similar to the modern ones at the end of the century.

This is an image from 1850 depicting the costume around that time, also showing the ‘bells’ hanging from the oorijzer in the center top. These also disappeared later in the century. You can see the different types of knobs, as well as the swooping shape the oorijzer has in the back.

Scheveningse visventsters bij hondenkar Aquarel gemaakt voor plaat XLII van: Nederlandsche kleederdragten, naar de natuur geteekend = costumes des Pays-Bas, dessinés d'après nature / door Valentijn Bing en [Jan] Braet von Ueberfeldt. - Amsterdam : [s.n.], 1857. #ZuidHolland #Scheveningen

Image by Bing & Braet, Source: Het geheugen van Nederland

In the current costume, the oorijzer has become longer in the back, giving shape to the cap. The knobs are no longer at the sides of the head but nearly meet at the top and are a distinctive round shape. The pins are put through the knobs to keep the cap in place. (I always have to think of knitting needles sticking through a little ball of wool when I see them)

A lovely picture from the 1950’s showing the shape of the oorijzer and cap. The oorijzer sticks out in the back so keeping the cap in place.

 

An oorijzer from Scheveningen made in 1919

 

Next up is the town of Huizen. This used to be fishing town, before the Afsluitdijk (dike) made the inland sea of the Netherlands into a lake, and before the province of Flevoland was ‘created’.

This is an image of the costume around 1850, showing a simple cap on top of a silver oorijzer with small pins through the knobs.

Man en vrouw in Huizer dracht, 1854 Tekening met voorstelling van een vrouw en man staande voor de huisdeur in Huizer dracht. Naast de man een houten emmer en melkkan, links onder gesigneerd: B.v. Ueberfeldt 1854.  Aquarel gemaakt voor plaat I van: Nederlandsche kleederdragten, naar de natuur geteekend = costumes des Pays-Bas, dessinés d'après nature / door Valentijn Bing en [Jan] Braet von Ueberfeldt. - Amsterdam : [s.n.], 1857. #NoordHolland #Huizen #oorijzermuts

Image by Bing & Braet, Source: Het geheugen van Nederland

The clothing in Huizen followed regular fashion and eventually became all black between 1870 and 1920, probably also due to religious influences. From 1870 on the cap also went through a great change, becoming the main point of interest, mostly due to its size. The oorijzer seems to have stayed relatively similar, changing slightly to accommodate the new style of cap. Two different types of large caps were worn, the ‘isabee’ for daily wear without oorijzer, and the oorijzermuts (oorijzer cap) for Sundays and special occasions. The cap with oorijzer was also a lot more difficult to put on, nearly impossible to do alone.

The cap is put in place with the pins, attaching to the oorijzer. This eventually creates a type of ‘loop’ in the fabric as shown in the next image of the final cap.

Demonstratie van het opzetten van de oorijzermuts. Over de ondermuts en het oorijzer wordt de oorijzermuts opgezet. Met gouden spelden wordt de oorijzermuts aan het oorijzer vastgespeld. Eerst steekt men twee keer door de kantstrook, vervolgens door een gaatje in het oorijzer en tenslotte wordt de punt van de speld door de kantstrook van de muts weggestoken. 1945 #NoordHolland #Huizen #oorijzermuts

Vrouw uit Huizen in zondagse dracht. Ze draagt de oorijzermuts, die met hulp van een tweede persoon is opgezet. 1945 #NoordHolland #Huizen #oorijzermuts

And an image of the oorijzer only. You can clearly see the knobs with holes to put the pins through.

 

Another fishing town where the oorijzer survived is Urk. Urk used to be an island, before the province of Flevoland was basically created around it in the 1930s and 40s. It still very much retains its island culture today. The traditional costume has all but died out, but is sometimes worn for special occasions.

I couldn’t find any information on the 18th century costume, but this image shows the clothing ca. 1850. The oorijzer is silver with silver knobs, little pins stuck through. The knobs are worn on the cheeks.

Aquarel gemaakt voor plaat XXXIX van: Nederlandsche kleederdragten, naar de natuur geteekend = costumes des Pays-Bas, dessinés d'après nature / door Valentijn Bing en [Jan] Braet von Ueberfeldt. - Amsterdam : [s.n.], 1857. #Urk

By Bing & Braet, Source: Het Geheugen van Nederland

Around 1900 the costume reached its current state, the changes mostly being in the clothing. The cap changed little, the version today being a under-cap, a white cap with yellow lace at the front, pinned to the oorijzer and if the lady is married a black over-cap on the back. The red bands disappeared. The white cap and oorijzer would’ve been pinned together first and then put on. These pictures are from the early 20th century, showing the oorijzer beneath the cap. The little round balls are the tops of the pins which pin the cap to the oorijzer.

 

Jonge vrouw van het eiland Urk.

 

The oorijzer, this one made in the late 19th century. It’s very narrow in the front, which shows that it’s meant to press into the cheeks.

 

Staphorst-Rouwveen is a town which even today is known very much for its wearers of traditional costume. It has got the highest number of women still wearing the traditional clothes on a daily basis of the whole country, a couple of hundred today. The youngest is in her 40s though, and most wearers are over 60, so also in Staphorst traditional costume is dying out.

Again, I couln’t find any images from the 18th century costume. The image below is  from ca. 1850 showing the headwear including oorijzer inthe top left corner. The oorijzer is silver, still quite narrow and has small golden ‘curls’ at the ends. It’s worn quite low, both in the neck and on the cheeks.

Vrouwen in de dracht van Overijssel Aquarel gemaakt voor plaat XXVI van: Nederlandsche kleederdragten, naar de natuur geteekend = costumes des Pays-Bas, dessinés d'après nature / door Valentijn Bing en [Jan] Braet von Ueberfeldt. - Amsterdam : [s.n.], 1857. Linksboven een vrouw uit Staphorst. Middenboven en rechts: Schokland. Onder: twee vrouwen uit Giethoorn. #Schokland #Overijssel #KopOverijssel #Staphorst

Excerpt from Bing & Breat. Source

From the 1850s costume, it changed quite a bit until around 1900. After that, small changes kept happening up to at least the 1970s. As the flow of ‘new’ wearers stops, the same usually happens to the changes in fashion.

Staphorst today actually sees two examples of the oorijzer. There’s a girl version, which isn’t worn daily anymore today. The other version is for adult women. Aside from the headwear with the oorijzer, another cap exists. That one is a small decorated cap of fabric and usually the daily wear today. The oorijzer is reserved for special occasions.

The ‘girl-oorijzer’ has the same basic shape as the one for adults, and is made fully of silver. It has very basic knobs at the ends.

The girl-oorijzer, this one was made in 1909.

 

For ‘neat’ wear (opknapdracht) the oorijzer was worn on top of the black under-cap, but without a lace cap on top. For church and special occasions, the lace ‘toefmuts’ was worn on top. The oorijzer changed from being worn low in the neck, going up over the ears and back down, to being worn almost on top of the head, going over the ears and ending low on the cheeks.

A picture of a girl in opknapdracht, picture from the 1940’s.

 

The oorijzer for adult women is similar in shape to the girls. The knobs at the ends are different, and are replaced by golden curls. In the 1850s image you can already see small curls, but these grow bigger.

This oorijzer was made in 1954.

Zilveren oorijzer met gouden krullen en gouden stiften uit Staphorst, gedragen door vrouw of meisje van gegoede komaf. Gouden stiften en klinknagels waren slechts voorbehouden aan enkele welgestelde families. Oorijzer is vervaardigd in 1954 door F.G.A. Drost te Staphorst. Hij gebruikte tijdens eerste decennia van werkzame periode meesterteken van moeder, A.J. Drost-Keus. Haar meesterteken was aangepaste meesterteken van haar in WWII omgekomen man A.O. Drost. #Overijssel #Staphorst

 

A picture of a woman wearing the oorijzer in opknapdracht in the 1940’s.

 

And a picture taken in the 1990’s, of three women who still wear these clothes on a daily base. From left to right they’re dressed in regular, light mourning and mourning clothes, all fit for church.

 

Friesland

Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands, but (more so than most others) has a large ‘national’ Frisian identity. They have a flag, and their own official language. In some specific places a specific costume was worn, such as in the town of Hindeloopen or on the islands at the north. In most of the province though, traditional costume mostly took shape through the headwear while the rest of the clothing followed fashion. Friesland is one of the most interesting regions when it comes to the oorijzer. That’s because it had quite a large number of wealthy farmers, that wealth allowing the oorijzer to grow to epic proportions.

In the 18th century Frisian headwear was most commonly the ‘German cap’. I’m not sure of it’s exact origins, but it grew to be quite large. The oorijzer beneath however, was still quite modest. It’s already often made of silver or gold plated.

An 18th century Frisian costume with the German cap and oorijzer.

 

Titel:Trouwkostuum, gestreepte changeantzijde met gebrocheerd bloempatroon, afgezet met franje  Vervaardiger: onbekend  Soort object:trouwkostuum; rok; jak  Vervaardigingsdatum: 1782  Afmeting:hoogte: 75.0 cm  Materiaal: zijde, linnen:

Source: Fries museum

 

An early 18th century gilded oorijzer from Friesland.

Source: Fries museum

 

At the beginning of the 19th century the cap changes quite drastically, and this marks the beginning of a growth in the oorijzer. The band becomes bigger, the knobs growing as well and becoming more ornate.

The headwear at the turn of the 19th century was named a ‘Floddermuts’. This one is for mourning, as it’s plain. The ‘regular’ one would be made of lace.

 

Around this time, the oorijzer starts to grow. This is a gilded copper one from ca. 1800. You see that the knobs at the end grow with the band. Because the front shows best through the cap, the front starts growing first.

Source: Fries museum

 

In time the cap becomes shorter again in the back. Up to around 1850, the oorijzer keeps growing. Along with the base, the knobs at the end grow out to large ornate ornaments. Instead of a practical accessory which keeps the cap to the head, the oorijzer starts to have a more public function. Because it shows quite well beneath the sheer lace caps, your neighbors can see your oorijzer. Being made of silver or gold, a large oorijzer is expensive, a sign of wealth. And of course, it won’t do if your neighbor has one larger than you. With the growing wealth among Frisian farmers, the oorijzer grows to almost be a helmet of gold. Silver was, of course also still worn in less rich families.

The shorter cap. This is what the early Floddermuts evolved to between 1820 and 1880.

Source: Fries museum

 

A gilded copper oorijzer from around 1840. The fronts become larger, and the knobs start to become wider and even more ornate.

Source: Fries museum

 

A golden oorijzer from 1873. This is about as large as the oorijzers got. This one obviously  belonged to a wealthy lady.

Source: Fries museum

 

If you were not quite as rich, you could still have a large golden oorijzer, but the back would be unconnected, needing less metal. This one is gilded brass.

 

Silver versions also existed. It would be common as well to own both silver and gold, with the gold being for Sundays and special occasions and silver for daily wear. In this one from 1879 you can again see the narrow back.

Source: Fries museum

The Frisian costume (i.e. the cap) disappear after 1880/1890. Quite a strong national identity exists though, so a form of the costume (the ca. 1840 version) keeps being worn at events. Nowadays you can still see it being worn in dance groups, costume groups or in the traditional coach races (with Frisian horses). Nearly all of the jewelry, including the oorijzers, are antiques and even today worth quite a lot. (After all, you’re wearing a helmet of gold).

 

Zeeland

Zeeland is the province in the very south-west of the Netherlands, and mostly consists of islands. It’s probably partly due to this island culture that Zeeland evolved to have a rich variety of traditional costume.

The variation in dress in Zeeland existed mostly in the headwear. Small variations also exist in dress, though mainly in the upper-body. For the oorijzer though, the 17th century version evolved into two basic variations worn throughout the province.

In the 18th century, the oorijzer remained largely the same. It was silver and thin, but did develop round/rectangular golden pieces at the ends. These are all images from the 18th century fashion in Zeeland. You can see the small golden oorijzers, the round balls are probably the pins sticking through.

urn-gvn-NOMA01-B09469-4-large_zpsppstpfla (600x164)

Source: Het geheugen van Nederland. Left to right Zuid-Beveland, Zuid Beveland & Walcheren

 

And a late 18th century / early 19th century (pre 1814) oorijzer. You can see the small golden plates at the ends. It still has the same shape as the 17th century oorijzer, and hasn’t really become wider.

 

Before we continue, another map, this time of Zeeland. Most of the names I’ll be throwing around are the islands. Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland are two regions on the same island. Arnemuiden and Axel are specific towns. I’ll also be considering costume from just north of Zeeland, the light blue island at the top of this map. These are the islands of Zuid-Holland. Another province, but the oorijzer existed there as well and is most similar to that of Zeeland.

Zeeland_zps3nz3wdue (574x600)

In the first half of the 19th century, the oorijzer starts evolving in two different ways. In most of Zeeland, the knobs turn into golden curls. In Zuid-Beveland, however, they stay plates and become larger. Most back parts of oorijzers are silver, though brass is also seen. The decorative knobs are generally gold, but also sometimes gilded brass.

Oorijzers from Zuid-Beveland. 1864, 1886 & 1964. The first one is rather unusual, being made of filligree. Most oorijzers would be more similar to the other two, with plain golden plates. Through time, you see the plates growing in size.  This reflects the growth in wealth during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

urn-gvn-NOMA01-HM3521-large_zps5olxmor9 (600x161)

 

Although the oorijzer in the rest of Zeeland and islands of Zuid-Holland all developed into spiraled curls, you do see some slight regional differences. In Walcheren and Axel, you get spirals which are even in size. As well as with the plates, you do also see them growing slightly over time, although they keep the 4 tiers.

Oorijzers from Walcheren (ca. 1800-1825), Axel (1899) & Walcheren (1920)

urn-gvn-NOMA01-HM2896-large_zps6foyswes (600x159)

 

An interesting case is the town of Arnemuiden. At some point the back part of the oorijzer disappears, leaving only the curls. This happens exclusively in the town of Arnemuiden. These ‘curls’, as they’re called (this term is also often used for the whole oorijzer by the way), are pinned to the bonnet. You see here that all practical function of the oorijzer has gone, leaving only the decorative part.

A pair of curls made in 1909.

 

In Noord-Beveland, Schouwen-Duiveland and Tholen you get spirals with 4 tiers, but decreasing in size. The process of growth is similar to the other regions. The twisted spiral seen in the oorijzer of Tholen was typical for this island.

Oorijzers from Schouwen (1856) Noord-Beveland (1872-1904) & Tholen (1954)

urn-gvn-NOMA01-HM5780-large_zpsakz18ism (600x159)

 

In the islands of Zuid-Holland, you also see spirals decreasing in size as they go upwards. Unlike the spirals from Zeeland, however, these are not limited to 4 tiers. Over time, they get more and more spirals.

Oorijzers from the islands of Zuid Holland, (1879, 1898, 1900-1910 worn in Heenvliet)

urn-gvn-NOMA01-Z35-49-large_zps42qt6mpk (600x159)

 

 

These following images all show the oorijzers as worn with the different costumes in Zeeland and the islands of Zuid-Holland, throughout time. Most of these images will show the costume and cap as worn on Sundays, this being the most elaborate version. The most recent images for each costume are also roughly where the changes stopped. This is different per region, depending on how long the costume was still worn. The only one being worn daily today is the one of Arnemuiden.

Zuid-Beveland. On the left is a print ca. 1850. Next to this you see the 2 different ways the cap evolved. Top row is protestant, first image ca. 1905, second one is ca. 1940. The catholic cap is in basis the same, but folded and pleated differently to get a different shape. The first image is ca. 1900, the second one ca. 1950. You can see how the oorijzer was worn much higher on the head than before in the catholic version.

Zuid-Beveland_zps3ztsuya5 (600x295)

 

Walcheren. On the left the costume ca. 1850.  Top right is an image from what I’d guess to be early 20th century. The girls on either side are wearing the ‘girls-cap’, with the long back. The cap in the center is the one generally worn by adult woman. Lower right shows pitures from the 1950’s. Left the adult cap, right the girl cap.

Walcheren_zpskrqztx7z (600x349)

 

Arnemuiden. Left the costume ca. 1850. In the middle a girl ca. 1890. On the right the cap ca. 1930. This was roughly the size the cap stayed afterwards.

Arnemuiden_zpscefgwhua (600x277)

 

Axel. To the left an image depicting Zeeuws-Vlaandren ca. 1850. Top middle is a woman from Axel ca. 1880, bottom middle girls ca. 1905. The right image was taken in 1950.

Zeeuws-Vlaandren_zpsdrver2do (600x266)

 

Noord-Beveland. Left ca. 1850. Top right is ca. 1900, bottom right 1950’s.

Noord-Beveland_zpsklo3cusy (600x476)

 

Tholen. The Bing & Braet series doesn’t cover Tholen, so on the left a print from 1874. On the right a woman in the 1950’s.

Tholen_zpskrfzhvye (600x416)

 

Schouwen-Duiveland. Ca. 1850 on the left, ca. 1910 on the right. The hair was typical for Schouwen and worn slightly different in Duiveland.

Schouwen-Duiveland_zpscgfuh4k9 (600x405)

 

Islands of Zuid-Holland. The left image depicts the costume from Goeree Overflakkee, Voorne, Beijerland and IJsselmonde ca. 1850. In the middle a girl from Voorne ca. 1880, the right image was taken ca. 1910.

Goeree Overflakkee Voorne Beijerland en IJsselmonde_zpszfecr9ov (600x262)

 

This post turned out slightly longer than anticipated, but I wanted to be complete, so I hope it wasn’t too long. This concludes the post. Below some sources, by far most information and images were taken from the website ‘Het Geheugen van Nederland’, which has a large image archive about Dutch traditional costume. This includes wonderful information from about the objects, from the museums they belong to.

 

Sources:

Het Geheugen van Nederland

Fries Museum

De Scheveningse Klederdracht, Koolbergen 1990

Historische Kring Huizen

Oorijzers – ‘Ear-irons’ – Part 1

Oorijzers are a type of metal headgear which have been worn in the Netherlands for a very long time. Literally translated the name means ‘ear-iron’, but I don’t think there’s an official English word for them, so I’ll keep using the Dutch term. I wanted to just write one post about oorijzers, but it became a bit long, so this is part 1 of 2! In this article I’ll give a little background on the history of the oorijzer and one example of it’s continued use throughout history. The next article will be about the oorijzer in various traditional Dutch costumes!

Just a quick disclaimer: I’m writing this article as an interested layman, I’m not a scholar on this subject by any means. My information comes from museums and books, and I’ll try to give an overview of sources at the bottom. I’m also writing this more as knowledgeable on Dutch traditional costume than on 16th and 17th century dress, to give an idea of my perspective.

But back to the topic on hand! What is an oorijzer? The basic description would be ‘a piece of metal  worn on the head underneath a cap’. That’s a very bare description, mostly because the function, appearance and material of the oorijzer all changed throughout time and place. Below you see a collage of different existent oorijzers ranging from 16th to 20th century, all worn in different parts of the Netherlands (source for all images: Het Geheugen van Nederland ).

Oorijzers_zpsvbwzua9m (600x359)

Origin

In origin, the oorijzer was a simple wire often made of brass. It was worn around the head and meant to keep the cap (which was worn on top) in place. It was a very utilitarian object, of which the largest part was not seen. The tips could be a little decorated with wire or small knobs, because these would stick out a little in the front. The rest of the wire was narrow and undecorated. Below is a brass oorijzer with copper wire around the tips found in Amsterdam, believed to be made in the 16th century. This is a good example of the style and shape of oorijzers around this time.

This type of oorijzer was worn throughout the entire country as a part of regular fashions of the time. These would’ve gone out of fashion for the elite around 1650. The lower classes would keep wearing them for a little longer. After 1700, you see oorijzers mostly in regional and local wear.

Although the earliest examples of oorijzers are twisted wire, at some point you also start seeing plated (I’m not sure if this is the correct technical term for how they’re made, sorry!) examples with little loops attached. The one below is from the last quarter of the 17th century, made of gilded brass. This one might’ve been for a wealthier woman, given the gilding and decoration of the knobs. It might have been worn with an early version of regional clothing as well, given the date.

Oorijzer, vermoedelijk laatste kwart 16de eeuw

The oorijzer would be made such that it would grip the head, preventing the cap from sliding off. The cap could be pinned to the ear iron. Because it was a bit tight (otherwise the grip wouldn’t work), you often see the knobs or ends making indentations of the cheeks of wearers.

Although few oorijzers from the 16th and 17th centuries have survived (being the practical accessories they were), they were worn widely. Luckily for us, the 17th century is a great era for the Dutch painters. Even though most of the upper class stopped wearing them at some point during the century, lower class portraits were also done. This means a fair number of paintings have survived which show women wearing oorijzers. Below a small selection.

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Top left to right: “Vrouw aan de maaltijd” Gabriël Metsu ca. 1661, ca. 1664 – “Portrait of Catharina Hooghsaet (1607-1685)”  Rembrandt, 1657 – “Studie van een oude vrouw in een witte dop” Rembrandt  – “Woman eating”  Gabriël Metsu 1664-1666. Bottom left to right:  “Meisje maakt kant”  Caspar Netscher – “Portrait of a Lady” Frans Pourbus the Elder 1580 – “Portrait Of A Young Woman” Frans Hals 1655,1660 – “Portrait of a woman” Frans Hals 1640

 

In the 18th century the oorijzer disappears from regular fashions. In some regional costumes the oorijzer disappears (if it ever existed at all, sources pre 1700 being scarce). In others though, it is kept on and starts to transform. The 18th century is the base of most of the regional traditional costume we see today, it’s when the differences start becoming larger. The same is true for the oorijzer, which becomes different for different regions.

Burgerweeshuis

One very interesting place where the oorijzer is kept is the Burgerweeshuis in Amsterdam, the main orphanage in Amsterdam. Founded in the 16th century, the orphanage was quite well known and located in the same place up to 1954. The uniform for the girls was very distinctive, with dresses which were black on one side and red on the other, worn with white caps including oorijzers. After the oorijzer goes out of fashion in the 17th century the orphans keep wearing it and it serves as a part of their dowry when they leave. Throughout time it grows a bit from the 17th century version, becoming wider. The oorijzers worn in the Burgerweeshuis are eventually made of silver, making it one of the most valuable possessions the orphans were likely to have. The costume, including oorijzers was worn up to 1919 when they stopped wearing the uniform. This is an example of a costume which is not as much regional but institutional, but which therefore stays nearly the same for centuries. I couldn’t find any pictures of the uniform before late 19th century, so these images below best reflect the uniform as worn in the last years.

Below is a print of the costume made in 1914 after a doll (date unknown, but I’d guess late 19th/early 20th century) which clearly shows the silver oorijzer beneath the cap. At this point, it has become wider than the original 17th century oorijzer and the little knobs are high on the head.

 

Some existent examples. The pins would’ve been put through the knobs at the top

The painter Nicolaas de Waay painted a good number of paintings of girls of the Burgerweeshuis in the early 20th century. This is one of his portraits, again clearly showing the oorijzers beneath the caps.

Currently, most Dutch people know the oorijzer purely from their use in various traditional Dutch costumes. In Part 2 of this topic I’ll attempt to give an overview of how the oorijzer evolved in different regional wear, and how they’re still worn today!

Sources:

Het Geheugen van Nederland

Amsterdam Museum – Burgerweeshuis

Wikipedia page Burgerweeshuis

Achieving the Edwardian silhouette – but how?

Often in historical costuming, we try to create an outfit with which we’ll look like we just stepped from a period painting or photo. This means sewing the clothes as worn in a certain period, with varying degrees of historical correctness. Even with a perfect replica though, it often takes more than just making a dress, or a blouse and skirt. It was often the underthings which created the silhouette, and many historical dresses look a bit frumpy when not worn over the correct undergarments. But how to achieve these silhouettes? The first things to get right are usually the corset, hoops, bustles and petticoats. But some era’s need a little more. Today’s blog is on the top half of the Edwardian silhouette, and some photo comparisons on how to achieve it. If you’re in doubt on how to recreate the look, I hope this post is helpful!

 

Let’s start with some info on what we’re trying to achieve with the Edwardian silhouette I’m talking about.

The era right after 1900 was characterized by a very typical shape in women’s clothing. An hourglass figure, with a very small waist, wide hips and a large chest. It also saw the rise of the so-called ‘pigeon-breast’. This term was used to describe a women’s top half when seen from the side. In the Edwardian silhouette, the chest was left in its natural position (as opposed to the more pushed-up look from the Victorian era, or the fashionable silhouette in contemporary fashion). Additionally, the top of some dresses and blouses was left to hang very loose from the chest, to then be cinched at the waist. As is more often the case, pictures describe the look a lot better than words can.

This lovely girl shows the classic ‘pigeon breast’ silhouette.

Some more lovely ladies

The first thing important in achieving this look is to wear a correct corset. Edwardian corsets don’t push up the chest, while a Victorian corset or modern bra will do just that. But there’s a little more which can help to get the silhouette right. The first option is wearing a ruffled corset cover.

Corset covers were simple garments worn to disguise the corset lines underneath thinner dresses and blouses. They were already worn in the Victorian era, but became a bit more elaborate in the Edwardian era. More specifically, they became fuller to support the new fashionable silhouette.

The earlier corset covers could be quite lovely decorated, but were meant to be worn underneath form-fitting dresses, and therefore thin and flat.

Lovely corset-cover from the Met, 1860

Although Edwardian corset-covers can still be ‘flat’, for wearing under form-fitting evening gowns, some became more elaborate to support the fullness of the gowns and blouses.

Corset cover, Met museum 1884

Corset cover, Met museum, 1902

Some corset covers even incorporated boning to provide the shape people were looking to get.

Corset cover with boning. Met museum 1900-1910

 

Aside from the corset cover, a little extra help was sometimes needed. So-called ‘bust-improvers’ were used as extra padding. There’re multiple still in existence. This is another option to create the look.

Woman’s Bust Improver (Falsies), England, circa 1900, image from LACMA

 

So, you might ask, what’s the difference if you wear these items or not? I’ve made both bust improvers and a ruffled corset cover, and took some pictures to show what it did to the silhouette. I haven’t made a boned corset cover, but for anyone who’s interested, you can check out Fashion through History’s blogpost, because she made one.

The corset-cover I made was done using the Truly Victorian Edwardian underwear pattern. It features a chemise, drawers and both and evening and daywear corset cover. I made the latter, with the ruffles. The corset seen in the images is also from Truly Victorian, the Edwardian corset pattern.

The bust-improvers were made with a pattern from Wearing History. I also used one of their patterns for the blouse. (just for the record, I’m not affiliated with either company, but they make great patterns!)

I originally made both because I figured I could use all the help I could get to achieve the correct period effect.

I photographed both the corset cover and improvers on my dummy. For the bust improvers, I believe you’re supposed to wear them underneath the corset, but some bust improvers might have been worn on top, so I showed the difference. I personally wear them inside, because otherwise my corset is a bit large at the top. I also took pictures both with and without my Edwardian blouse on top, so you can see what the underwear does to the silhouette.

These show the different versions from the front. Some differences already show. Most noticeably, the dummy without any underwear shows that the blouse is a bit baggy (far left). On the other hand, the dummy with both the improvers and corset cover shows that the blouse is straining a bit. Nothing serious, but the blouse is just a bit too small to fit over everything.

All options front

 

Things become more interesting when looking at everything from the side. There’s a dramatic difference between no extra underwear (leftmost image) and any of the supporters. The corset cover only (2nd from left), or the bust improver in the corset (4th from left) have a very similar silhouette, which works well for the Edwardian ideal. The bust improver worn out of a corset (middle image) shows a nice full shape which is probably closest to our a modern silhouette. The bust sits a bit too high for a proper Edwardian look though. The corset-cover plus bust improver (rightmost image) clearly has the largest shape. For me personally, this is a bit too much. I have a rather small frame, and with all the padding and ruffles it feels a bit over the top.

All options side

 

My personal conclusion is that I’ll wear my bust improvers inside my corset, without the ruffled corset cover. The main reason to pick this option over the corset cover only is that my corset doesn’t really fit well without the improvers. I’m guessing that this is a good option for people with a relatively small bust, who wish to make a standard-sized corset fit a bit better. (I took sizes into account when making the corset, but could still use extra padding in the front…). For people who don’t really need this extra filling, I’d probably recommend making the ruffled corset cover. This has the added advantage of hiding corset ridges. For me, I’ll probably be adapting my corset cover by taking off the ruffles. This way, I can wear it for outfits with a tighter fit as well, and it will work better together with the bust-improvers.

I hope this comparison was useful for everyone, and I’d love to see how other people achieved the period look!