Extant Italian Drawers  (Brache or Calze)

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Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Circa 1600

"Linen drawers embroidered in silver and silver-gilt thread.

Embroidered border, and bobbin lace worked in metal threads and two different brown silks."

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For more information, more detail shots, and a pattern for this shirt, see:
Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion 4. Macmillan, London, 2008.
Buy it at @Amazon.com  or  @Amazon.co.uk  

Other Images of these drawers:


Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, Janet Arnold. W S Maney & Son, Leeds, 1988


The History of Underclothes, C. Willett and PhiIlis Cunnington. Dover Publications, 1992

The image on the left is from Janet Arnold's Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd. It has been identified as a woman's pair of drawers, and shows an embroidered opening from waistband to crotch. Arnold describes them as "white linen drawers, or hose, embroidered with colored silks and gold and silver metal thread, possibly for a woman."

The image on the right is from History of Underclothes. It shows the same pair of extant linen drawers featuring embroidery from the other side. The Metropolitan Museum of Art dates them to the late 16th century.

Some people conjecture about which way the opening was intended to face. I have heard it postulated that the opening was to the back, but to me this makes no practical sense, unless we agree that it is just as easy (or difficult) to access and use the button closure at the back under long skirts as it is to access it at the front under long skirts, and with this I can't agree. 

It also doesn't sound plausible, to me,  that an opening situated behind one's back should be embroidered. However, we don't really know anything for sure, so I could be completely off.

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