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 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.
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