Bombast was absolutely essential to the men's and women's clothing of the sixteenth century, yet it was never actually seen. Bombast was a form of stuffing made from cotton, wool, horsehair, or even sawdust. It was used to pad and add shape to a variety of garments, including the shoulders, chest, and stomach of the doublet, a kind of overshirt, and bodice; the bulky legs of men's hose like pumpkin breeches and Venetians; or the sleeves and shoulders of women's gowns. These garments could not have attained their exaggerated shape without the use of bombast. Today, the word "bombast" is used to refer to exaggerated speech or writing, and someone who uses such speech is referred to as "bombastic."


Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

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

[ See also Volume 3, Fifteenth Century: Doublet ; Volume 3, Sixteenth Century: Hose and Breeches ; Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Gowns ]

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