Clothing in Slovakia under influence of baroque (twenties of 17th century up to twenties of 18th century)

In 17th century inhabitants of Slovakia survived much exerted times which brought about uprisings of estates of Hungarian nobility, its resistance against absolutistic regime, against violent Counter-Reformation from side of the Catholic Church and against continuing conflict between Hapsburg and Turkish empires.

Clothing as symbol of political and confessional membership

From the twenties of 17th century in period of thirty-year war in Europe new type of clothing begins to assert itself gradually. However, the people remained reserved to this new wave in Hungary. Elements, which they took over into their Hungarian clothes from the new baroque fashion, did not alter their way of clothing but they innovated it moderately only, particularly through details. Hairdos, length of women´s sleeves or form of neckline bit by bit modified constantly persisting Renaissance fashion. Onto the territory of Hungary they are used to get also thanks to wedding policy of Hungarian magnate´s families. Brides coming from foreign noble families brought with themselves also new trends often in spirit of topical fashion (fig. 1, 2). It was still valid Hungarian magnates loyal towards Hapsburgs got dressed according to to their pattern thus according to the last fashion in Europe. Hungarian family lines who profited politically also socially from this propensity as Esterházy and Pálfy took over West fashion among the first ones.

The Hungarian clothing, however, still persisted whole 17th century as the most favourite type of clothing between Hungarian nobility and also townspeople. It was not varied in its composition but men started gradually to wear shorter “mentieka” (short fur-lined coat) also dolman. Ladies adapted moderately particularly cut of bodice, hairdos and its accessories according to the fashion. Fabrics being used for sewing the gentlemen´s and lady´s Hungarian clothing were varied also according to fashion changes, especially the patterns (fig. 3).

Portrait creation brings documents about enlargement of early baroque fashion in noble wardrobe in Hungary. It started to wear at court from Ferdinand Hapsburg the III in Vienna and this new fashion became a standard between Austrian Hapsburgs and to them loyal noblemen acting at court. This early baroque clothing of the second quarter of the 17th century had still clothing components as Renaissance dress, however, it lost Renaissance rigidity. The women´s silhouette equally as the men´s one has been voluminous particularly thanks to wide sleeves and soft robust skirt. A broad boat-neckline with liking bordered by lace yet highlighted horizontal line. Hairstyle was also being finished into breadth, especially on cheeks around the face. Married women from aristocratic and noble environment dressing themselves according to this fashion already did not wear on their hairdos bonnets, nets, hats, berets but with pleasure went without hem (fig. 4). Pearls became most preferred component for jewel production. The men worn the coat wams extended under back, its sleeves gained volume also thanks to shirt which protruded through cutting-ins in them. Ruff has been replaced by white turn-down collar bordered by lace which was interlaced by the neck tie – a novelty in men´s clothing. It was a band of fabric; in this period it was yet invisible from under voluminous collar. Trousers were also extended knee-deep and knitted-fabric silk knee socks have fixed and distinctively decorated the lacy suspenders. Long hairs and soft felt hat with voluminous brim decorated with bird´s feathers came into fashion. Carefully treated beard and moustache so popular in Spanish Renaissance fashion were now in 17th century enlarged and they remained in fashion up to beginning of 18th century.

In taking-over of these new fashion trends German inhabitants of towns in Slovakia were more brave who took on them through Protestant countries of West Europe, partially through Germany and the Netherlands. 

This fashion style persisted till the eighties of 17th century when the type of dress of new cut according to preferring vertical silhouette started to be worn. This has been created at the court of Louis the XIV in Versailles at the end of the seventies of 17th century. This new type of arrangement got into environment of Hungarian nobility from Vienna court where Leopold Hapsburg the I and Charles Hapsburg the III have subjected to it. Not only magnates supporting the Hapsburgs but also family lines of foreign origin acting in Hungary such as for instance Hellenbachs have worn it (fig. 5).

This type became different from early baroque clothing thereby that it accented the vertical line in silhouette. The composition of men´s clothing was changed because the suit started to be worn in triple combination: coat (Fr. justaucorps), under it vest with sleeves or without (Fr. veste) them and trousers under knees (Fr. culotte). Silk knee socks reached towards knees where they have been fixed by decorative suspender laces and ribbons. The shirt was not visible only its voluminous cuffs and cravat with jabot (Fr.). The head has been decorated with voluminous extension wigs and distinctive three-corner hat (Fr. tricorn). Light shoes on heel were worn on foots with distinctive bow or with clip on instep. Such clothing acting very womanishly symbolized already not the men´s ideal:  a man as a fighter but a man as courtier which cared for his external appearance carefully and very precisely (fig. 6).

Lady´s counterpart acted more slimly thanks to the narrowing of skirt and transferring of its volume into the back part, thanks to deep décolleté discovering bosom, narrowing of sleeves, thanks to their moderate shortening under elbows and inserting the sleeves into bodice in natural shoulder armhole. Coverage of head protruding high upwards (Fr. à la fontange) and high heels hidden under skirt have enhanced the figure (fig. 7). Equally like in case of Hungarian magnates these foreign influences have been followed especially by women of families by power and politically kindred with Hapsburgs.

In the 17th century also a new technique of lace arose. Netted laces favourite in period of Renaissance were replaced by bobbin lacing technique. Bobbin laces are spread in Hungary not only by means of trade but particularly thanks to new groups of population who was settled on the territory of Slovakia. All these were the Dutch, German, Italian, Jew, Croatian inhabitants and just they were bringing knowledge of its production. Excepting bobbin laces the ribbons decorated baroque clothes. They became a new assortment because up to now they were manufactured like border tapes and decorations for clothing which were manually created by “pozamenters”. In the half of 17th century, however, weaving loom arose in France which could manufacture narrow ribbons in twill and satin weave or in plain one. Such ribbons have been unlike also string maker´s tapes more fine, light a more colourful. This enabled to make various cockades and rosettes from them.