The doublet, a slightly padded short overshirt, usually buttoned down the front, with or without sleeves, was one of the essential men's garments of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The basic form of the doublet came from the pourpoint, a padded shirt that was originally worn by knights under their armor. This form-fitting shirt was soon worn by most upper-class men. While the basic shape of the doublet remained the same, the garment was modified in many ways over the course of the several centuries in which it was worn, thus keeping it in fashion.

The name doublet referred to the duplicate layers of material used to make the shirt. The inner lining was usually made of linen, while the outer layer was made of heavy silk. Depending on the current fashion, these layers were filled with various amounts

The doublet, a slightly padded overshirt as seen in this illustration, was one of the essential men's garments of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Reproduced by permission of © .
of bombast, or padding. During the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century padding was added to the shoulders and upper arms, making the shoulders look very broad. One fashion of the late sixteenth century was called a peascod-belly, which made the lower stomach area so filled with padding that it made a man look pregnant. The doublet usually ended right at the waist and sometimes came to a point in the front. It was worn at first with a short skirt and later with breeches, a type of pants, and hose.

The doublet was a key garment in the transition from the long, draped garments of the Middle Ages to the more fitted styles of the Renaissance. At first the doublet was buttoned all the way to the neck, but during the late fifteenth century the neckline of the doublet opened to a wide V shape, the better to show off the linen shirts and ruffs, or pleated collars, that were becoming fashionable. The sleeves showed changes, varying from tightly fitting from shoulder to wrist, to very puffy at the upper arms. Often sleeves were separate garments that were fastened at the shoulder, with the fasteners hidden by small wings on the doublet. Beginning in the late fifteenth century, doublets were one of the primary garments to use slashing, a fashion statement that involved making small slits in the outer fabric of the doublet and then pulling out or revealing pieces of the inner lining.


Laver, James. Costume and Fashion: A Concise History. 4th ed. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Yarwood, Doreen. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.

[ See also Volume 2, Europe in the Middle Ages: Pourpoint ; Volume 3, Fifteenth Century: Dagging and Slashing ; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Sleeves ]

Also read article about Doublet from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: