Tourists' outfit in old Poland
Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

Passage to knowledge

Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

Tourists' outfit in old Poland Anna Markiewicz

Old Polish letters, lists of bills paid during trips and instructions and advice given for travellers before departure contain a lot of interesting details about 17th century travel, also concerning the garments worn by tourists visiting the then Europe.

Instructions written down before a foreign educational trip contained extensive instructions about the education to be acquired in Paris or Rome, the itinerary was mapped in great detail and numerous warnings and moral advice were included. Parents' and caretakers' instructions addressed to young noblemen also included issues associated with their daily life, such as their clothing. Jakub Sobieski wrote to his sons, Jan and Marek, travelling to Paris, advising prudence in selecting their garments: As to your clothes, I wish you were not nimis sumptuosi. Similarly, in the 1680s, Hetman Stanisław Jabłonowski ordered his sons heading off to West Europe, to dress modestly and with moderation. You should dress up modeste, and do not stand out from the local lords or other foreigners, clothes should be neat rather than rich and you should economise according to the fashion. The Hetman also advised Stanisław Mateusz Rzewuski, who travelled with his sons, to be equally moderate. It was up to the tutor to make sure that the young travellers complied with their father's instructions. The tutor's important task and at the same time a major item in the budget was purchasing materials and preparing adequate clothing for young noblemen and magnates – which were supposed to be modest, but at the same time appropriate for the status and rank of travellers.

It should be added that during their stay in Paris or Rome, tutors had to remember not only about proper garments for the young people in their charge but also for courtiers and servants; Hetman Jabłonowski ordered that lackeys and coachman of his sons wear red livery hemmed with black, orange and white lace. Sometimes, adequate clothing for foreign journeys was already prepared at home. Elżbieta Sieniawska's stepbrothers, Teodor and Franciszek Lubomirski, before setting off on a foreign trip in 1699, started wearing French-style clothes when they were still in Warsaw. However, it was more typical to leave the Commonwealth in Polish garments and order foreign clothes in a larger city outside the country; in the case of the aforementioned Jabłonowski brothers, this was done immediately upon arrival in Prague. Letters exchanged during foreign trips as well as surviving lists of expenses incurred in European capitals also contain other precious information about the garments of peregrinators, both young people travelling to acquire education and other citizens of the Commonwealth visiting foreign countries.

Daily life during a tour of Europe was completely different than the instructions and advice to remain modest and moderate, written back at home. The abovementioned Stanisław Mateusz Rzewuski, many years after his own youthful trip, repeatedly rebuked his son visiting West Europe for extravagance and immoderation: You ask for more clothes than you need; and he criticised his son for his fondness of the latest fashion and appealed to him to be reasonable: The fashion will change long before you return to Poland. Adequate clothing during a foreign trip was definitely not cheap and its cost was a major item on the list of expenses. Every traveller dealt with the problem of collecting the outfit in his own way. For example, each of the young Zamoyski brothers had two casual robes and one for travelling, two dozens of shirts and a scarlet coat.

Already in mid-17th century, Inowrocław Podkomorzy Jan Tuczyński spent a fortune on adequate outfit. The list of his expenditures details numerous colourful textiles (azure and red silk, colourful velvet, tabin, canvas, fustian) and loads of ribbons, clasps, laces and buttons. Young Tuczyński would wear, among others, loose tabin hoses, probably fashionable jerkin, orange silk stockings, shoes with silver spurs and a hat decorated with ribbons. His outfit was complemented by a sabre and baldric. The caretaker of the young Zamoyski brothers, Jan Kamocki, wrote a letter from Prague to the Treasurer's wife, Anna Zamoyski, explaining the costs: at first, it may seem to be a huge expense, but we had to dress the young Masters from head to toes according to the honour of their name, which was certainly a costly thing to do; later on, he emphasised the excellent quality and durability of the fabrics: the coats of Venetian scarlet will serve the next generation, as they are in perfect condition.

It should be noted that teenage peregrinators quickly grew out of the clothes they took from home, so new garments had to be bought for them one way or another. In 1696, the Zamoyski servant, Aleksander Franciszek Luberski, had to buy fabric for new clothes for the boys, as they had simply grown out of their old outfit. Kazimierz Woysznarowicz often mentions in his travel journal ordering adequate garments for Duke Aleksander Zasławski, who was in his charge. Soon after arriving in Paris in November 1667, he equipped the Duke with adequate garments; the tutor bought fabric and on the next day – golden buttons, a hat, baldric and spade. A tailor was most likely invited to dinner to discuss details of the outfit. Of course, the Duke had two sets of clothing and his caretaker had to provide servants and lackeys with garments, too. Similar purchases for Duke Zasławski had to be repeated quite often. In December 1667, Woysznarowicz bought a baldric from a goldsmith, as well as feathers and jerkin. He also reported buying buckles and white and golden laces for the Duke's clothes. In August 1668, the caretaker paid more than a thousand zlotys for laces for Duke Aleksander's garments. Reverend Woysznarowicz also cared much about his own clothes and he reported the things he bought for himself. Soon after arrival in Paris in November 1667, he purchased drojet clothes with silver buttons and a spade. Also Teodor Billewicz set about acquiring adequate clothing for himself a few days after arrival in the French capital in May 1678. The Lithuanian wrote in his diary: It took the whole day to tailor a summer robe cum accidentibus, and one needs many of them in France.

In the 1720s, young Jan and Antoni Cetner visited West Europe. In the surviving register of their travel expenses, clothing plays a major role. Colourful silk, new robes, wigs, hats, stockings embroidered with gold thread, shoes, gloves – the noblemen took great care of fashionable outfit that would be adequate to their lifestyle. Similar is the case with the travel accounts of the sons of Biecz Castellan Wodzicki: detailed enumerations of their purchases give an insight of a rich outfit of a young nobleman from the Commonwealth that was supposed to signify his social position. No wonder moralists harshly reprimanded young noblemen upon their return to the country, dressed not in the traditional Polish outfit, but instead in the most expensive laces and refined, glittering with gold foreign garments; the fashion-victim noblemen were often ridiculed by authors of limericks. During his stay in Paris in 1706, Elżbieta Sieniawska's stepbrother Józef Lubomirski sent home extensive registers and memorials of debts incurred while he was staying at a Jesuit college in Paris and later in a residence in the city. Many of the entries in these registers concerned money owed to a Parisian tailor.

Translation: Lingua Lab

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