Ottoman influences in Western dress: Coats and trousers

Coats and trousers were the essential garments of Turkish men and women. By the twelfth century front opening coats begin to appear as outer garments worn initially by scholars and clerics. However, trousers, which were a great departure from European clothing construction, would not be adopted so quickly. The advantages of coats, however, were more apparent. Coats and jackets or vests, unlike mantles or cloaks, stayed in place on the body and did not encumber free movement of the arms. They can also be readily donned or doffed as circumstances require, and need not be pulled over the head as did the sleeved tunics common to previous European experience.

795d5966ba0be520d8fcd5efdc36315aIn religious and scholarly dress, during the First Crusade coats begin to appear  that had either no sleeve, like the Arab ~b~ or the short sleeve of Turkish-style outer kaftans designed to show the sleeve of the coat(s) underneath. The adoption of such garments by European clerics coincided with the emergence of scholarly interest in Islamic texts as a source of knowledge on medicine, mathematics, and other subjects. Also we see the appearance in Western dress of the very distinctive Turkic feature of the hanging sleeveB another means by which the Turkish wearer could display the rich fabric of an under coat, through the opening of the partially detached sleeve of an outer coat. The drawings of such coats in European contexts show a different construction than the Turkish examples, but the concept is strikingly similar, and quite new to European fashion.

The earliest form of this feature are the long extensions of sleeves called tippets, Both are  reminiscent of the Turkish hanging sleeves . The tippet resembles the effect seen in a quilted silk jacket with chain mail lining, dated to the fourteenth century, seen in the Istanbul War Museum. This jacket had tight long sleeves that were slit from the wrist to the elbow with closely spaced buttons that closed the mail-lined sleeve snug to the wrist. However, it is probable that when not in battle, or in warm weather, the sleeves would have been allowed to dangle from the elbow like the tippet. Hanging sleeve effects become increasingly striking in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Fuller long  sleeves beginning in the late thirteenth century may have a long slit through which the arm can be inserted. This idea continues to be used in sixteenth century coats.  Treatments are extremely varied. as longer gowns come into vogue, particularly for older men, we see various arrangements of layered sleeves that permit a closely fitted under-sleeve, often long and wrinkled and pushed up, and/or with a funnel-shaped cuff turned back to show a contrasting lining. Both features were common to Turkish, Persian, and Central Asian coat sleeves even before the Muslim period. The over-sleeves may be also wide, and either long  or short, but designed to reveal the snugly fitted under-sleeve of the cote or pourpoint.  images

Also by the end of the twelfth century we see the appearance of pelissons, which are fur- lined outer garments, worn by both men and women. By the fourteenth and fifteenth century we see fur-lined coats that bear a striking resemblance to the Ottoman style. From this time on coats, short and long, become part of the repertoire of fashion.


images-2The visual effect of layering inevitable with coats is particularly interesting. Coats are a very important feature of male dress in the first half of the sixteenth century. A short wide coat is worn that creates an impressive upper body silhouette without obscuring the essential European feature beautifully hosed and decorated legs, the fitted doublet, and the ostentatiously displayed codpiece. The sleeve of the coat is short, permitting display of an elaborately decorated under-sleeve in the Turkish manner. Loose short coats of this type first appeared in the 1490s in Italy, where the cut of sleeve and collar is virtually equivalent to Turkish examples. By the 1530s the form had been adapted to European tastes, becoming much more structured and elaborated in keeping with the aesthetics of the Mannerist style then in vogue in Europe.


How beatiful that the Creator made so coloful world isn’t it! How this world would be miserable if there existed only one culture!

In this regard I’d like to site the Holy Quran:

If Allah had willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so compete in good deeds.  Al – Maida 5/48.




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