Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Historical Frills *Indie Edition* - I Do Declare Striped Court OP

I bought this gorgeous OP at RuffleCon 2014 and just had to put it on as soon as I got home that Sunday
If there is one thing I love more than lolita fashion, it's historically-saturated lolita fashion - hence my interest in 'Historical Frills'. There was much to do and see this past year at RuffleCon, and historically-inspired pieces were at the forefront of the eye-candy for me. Wandering around the marketplace, this gorgeous OP from I Do Declare stole my heart and forced my hand - I had to buy it. This time, Historical Frills is going indie as we explore the Renaissance!

The Renaissance is the period of history which stretches from the 14th century to the 17th century and for many it is seen as the golden age of advancements in art, politics, and science. The Italian Renaissance is famous for its art, but there were plenty of beautiful courtly women in need of clothes throughout Europe. Interestingly, much of fashion was dominated by Spain (although Italy and France seemed to have their own deviations) through the 16th and 17th centuries. Textiles tended to be opulent with lots of beadwork, embroidery, and expensive detailing. Women also seemed to prefer heavier fabrics like velvets, and raised silks which were brought from far and wide via the international textile trade. 

One of the many reasons I fell in love with this OP was the use of a sturdier fabric like brocade. Though it might not necessarily be the best choice for the blazing summer heat, the weight of the dress is perfect for chillier months. The brocade also falls in with the lavishness of Renaissance textiles wherein it was not simply the design which showed off wealth, but the minute details and quality of the fabric itself. By pairing gold and navy together, the dress takes on a new level of courtly attire representing two colors which were often in high demand. Outside, the dress seems to catch the light and shimmer in contrast to the matte white of the lining.

Worn out to brunch

Interestingly, in the Renaissance many women had detachable sleeves on their dresses which could be given as a gift from a groom to his new wife, or passed down the maternal line to be sewn on to various different dresses. As such, sleeve designs became increasingly ornate throughout the Renaissance with various different styles becoming popular. In the 17th century, the paned sleeves became prevalent. These particular sleeves had long strips of the dress material sewn with spaces between them to show off the voluminous underlayer of the chemise. I Do Declare has played on this design beautifully to create a large and poofy upper part of the sleeve which quickly slims down to create a long lean line of the arm. The white underlayer is especially soft and lines the rest of the OP almost like an homage to the chemise. 

Unusual for lolita, but common to the Renaissance was the low-cut bodice. In their brief history of women's fashion in the Renaissance, the Victoria and Albert Museum wittily notes that at one point there were numerous complaints in Venice that visitors "could not tell the courtesans from respectable women" mostly because both classes of women "wore similar low-cut dresses and high shoes". Though the ruff is perhaps one of the most iconic accessories of the Renaissance, low-cut square-necked dresses certainly had their time in the limelight. 

Portrait of Bianca Ponzoni Anguissola, 1557 shows off her low-cut neckline
While many dresses of the day tended towards elongated bodices with dropped, pointed waists, this particular OP has a shorter, natural waist. Though this might seem aesthetically odd when compared with many paintings of fashionable Renaissance women, there were some dress and jacket designs that seem to follow the lines of my I Do Declare's piece.

Portrait of Margaret Layton c. 1620
In this portrait of Margaret Layton, the bodice is far more similar to the I Do Declare OP than the pointed stomachers of the Elizabethan era. Cut at the natural waist all the way around, this bodice creates a softer, more organic line which became more popular later in the century. 

Though when explained to the layman lolita fashion is said to be based off of Victorian and Rococo fashions, one can easily see the successfulness of I Do Declare's Renaissance-inspired OP. The silhouette is simplistic and flattering while the brocade and paned sleeves steal the show. Lolita fashion is all about the details and sometimes the simplest designs are the richest. 

If you haven't heard of I Do Declare, I highly suggest you check out their Etsy and Facebook page to see more of their amazing designs. The brand is not limited to Renaissance-inspired pieces and instead has a broad range of designs which span many different eras. For any of you attending Nightfall, be sure to check out their designs in the fashion show and the marketplace!

Until next time - much love,


"Renaissance Women's Clothing." Victoria and Albert Museum. Victoria and Albert Museum, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

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