The 17th Century
Little change occurred in women's clothes of the 17th century. Although the farthingale disappeared during the baroque period, skirts remained bell shaped. The cone-shaped corset continued, with the waist higher or lower as fashion dictated. Late in the century the loose gown, or Mantua, made its appearance. The ruff was replaced for both men and women by a wide lace collar that sloped over the shoulders.
At the beginning of the century men still wore the garments of the later Middle Ages: doublet, breeches and hose, and a cape. The Cavalier look then became the mode with broad topped boots, slashed doublets, and wide brimmed hats.
During the first half of the century the casaque was developed for travel or military use. It was a cape cut with two fronts, two backs, and two shoulder pieces. The fronts and backs buttoned to form a coat and shoulder pieces buttoned to form sleeves. This innovation evolved into the riding coat and, in the 18th century, it became the modern coat. The doublet evolved into the waistcoat or vest.
Both men and women wore the high crowned Puritan hat until 1660 when women's bonnets appeared. Women wore their hair naturally, no longer than to the shoulder, and covered it with a kerchief. Waists were narrow and skirts bell shaped. Sleeves, although wide, were usually three-quarter length. The outer gown was pulled back from the skirt front and, by 1680, formed a bustle.
The wig was introduced by Louis XIV to mask his increasing baldness after his originally magnificent head of curly hair had set the fashion. It remained an indispensable item in a gentleman's wardrobe for well more than a century. Powdered white or gray, large and elaborate or small and neat, the wig replaced men's natural hair at any social occasion until the French Revolution, at court functions for another 30 years after that, and in the law courts of Great Britain to this day.
Men's jackets became longer and were trimmed with lace at the sleeves. A lace shirt sometimes protruded below the jacket, which gave an even more elongated appearance. High heeled shoes replaced boots.
By 1680, women wore a headdress of ribbon and lace called a frontage that rose a foot or more above their heads. Lace and ribbons were freely used, and, except among the Puritans, colors were bright for both men and women. With the exception of going back to trousers from breeches, the essential garments of modern men's clothing had all evolved by 1680.