16th Century Flemish (Netherlandish or Dutch works well too) Partlet

I spent most of this year working on one of my first complete outfits made not using a commercial pattern.  Let’s start with the outer most layer, and I’ll work my way in.

First of all, a  partlet or gollar is a woman’s piece of over-clothing, which covered the bust, back and shoulders.  It’s akin to a sleeveless jacket, but ends directly beneath the bust. In 16th century Flanders, all classes of women worn one if they left their home. It was actually more universal than that. The women in nearly every European country at this time wore some kind of partlet or vest.

I’ll be using the English term: partlet, although in Flemish literature at the time it would have been more likely called a gollar.

The variety of partlets all over Europe was pretty wide. From the  sheer silk Italian partlet that didn’t conceal anything:

Italian Partlet. Very sheer.

To the very fancy English one:

Although it’s not so black and white as that. Most cultures around Europe at this time had varying degrees of extravagance for their partlets, from the plain white linen to ones that were made of very  detailed lace with pearls and gems.

My partlet is one of the white linen varieties. It’s the style worn by middle and lower class women. This partlet is meant to be worn as a vest over the overgown. It can be worn as the last layer of clothing on the top half of a Flemish woman wore or worn under a black wool partlet in colder weather.

There is no extant plain white partlet from the Netherland area. What I used to base my idea upon was the paintings of the time.


  • The collar varied between stiff  to limp and folded down.
  • Had pleats of some kind, but mostly cartridge pleats


  • In the front it comes down to just under the bust and a matching length in the back
    • P. Aersten “Cook in Front of the Stove” (above)


  • The front two corners meet, but don’t overlap. Meaning they must be held down by separate pins.
    • J. Beuckelaer “Vegetable Seller” (above)
    • J. Beuckelaer “Market Scene” (above)


  • End near the ball joint of the shoulder – sometimes before the gown strap ends.
    • J. Beuckelaer “Vegetable Seller” (above)
    • P. Aersten “Cook in Front of the Stove” (above)
  • Not as tight fitting as partlets from elsewhere in Europe
  • Other Details:
    • It seemed to have no side seams, or at least this was an option
    • The collar was sewn on from a separate piece, and it seemed to be the only separate piece from the main body.
    • Unlike partlets from other areas at this time, it was a very simple design with no shoulder or back seams.
    • It was wider at the bottom than it was at the shoulders.

Coming soon . . . “How I Made My Partlet.”

3 thoughts on “16th Century Flemish (Netherlandish or Dutch works well too) Partlet

  1. I do think partlets look lovely, but I never get to wear one myself, as mostly I wear my tudor stuff indoors where there’s central heating, so I’m mainly concerned with keeping as cool as possible to avoid fainting (its been known)

  2. […] 16th Century Flemish (Netherlandish or Dutch works well too) Partlet (maniacalmedievalist.wordpress.com) […]

  3. […] Via: the National Gallery, Maniacal Medievalist […]

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