17th Century Women’s Smock

I was looking at my collection of photos on my computer and on pinterest to determine the different shapes of smocks in this century (and all the others), you wouldn’t think there was many, i was surprised to find at least four.

At the beginning of the century the fashion was still for the large french farthingale’s and big collars usually associated with Queen Elizabeth, the neckline at the front was low and quiet high at the back, to support the large collar.



The smock isn’t visible in any of these, indicating that it follows along the edge and fits very closely against the corset. I also noticed from the same few decades that young girls dress had a straighter bodice line, perhaps that was more modest for children and they eventually graduated to the more risky bust lines later on?



During the same early decades of the century into the 1640’s and 1650’s there were some women who were far more concerned with being conservative, covering up almost every inch of flesh, you can almost see these these women rallying behind Cromwell in a few years to come.



They would have been wearing something very similar to the smock below.



As the swinging 60’s rolled in and everyone began to enjoy themselves and drink themselves into oblivion, bodice lines began to move down rapidly, slipping down over the shoulder and just holding the bust in.



The smocks were also sometimes visible just over the edge of the dress as well as bulging out the carefully cut holes in the sleeves. The smock lightly resembled the chemises worn in the 1840’s by Victorian women, except their large, puffy sleeves that were heavily gathered and were always just visible below the sleeve. The corsets of  the era demonstrated the loose structure over the body yet were heavily boned so ironically didn’t leave much room for movement.





Smocks during the end of the decade began to return to previous shape at the beginning of the century, yet they keep the large puffy sleeves underneath and returned to the hard, boned bodices of the beginning of the century.




Introducing Nell, my 1660’s ‘protestant whore’ as the real Nell proclaimed in the BBC’s Charles II The Power and the Passion. She’s without  any sleeves at the mo as i fell out with them mid production, but she will have some at some point.

Using inspiration from some of the ladies of Charles II’s court i started by making the chemise, puffy sleeves and all. Next time i will raise the sleeves so the chemise is lower and less visible. I think my right sleeve is starting to loose it’s puffy-ness and well :/

I then stitch the skirt together, I’m not quite certain yet whether i used to much fabric or not? but anyway that went rather well and i stitched the design on with the sewing machine.


I had a bit of difficulty making the bodice, not getting the right shape for the arms, but it worked out all right and the right shapes are starting to flood back into my memory now. I’m hoping i will finish her sleeves later this week, while i also intend to make a 1860’s dress when the fabric arrives.