1600-1650 in fashion

1600-1650 in fashion

Fashion in the period 1600-1650 in Western European clothing is characterized by the disappearance of the ruff in favour of broad lace or linen collars. Waistlines rose through the period for both men and women. Other notable fashions included full, slashed sleeves and tall or broad hats with brims. For men, hose disappeared in favour of breeches.


The silhouette, which was essentially close to the body with tight sleeves and a low, pointed waist to around 1615, gradually softened and broadened. Sleeves became very full, and in the 1620s and 1630s were often paned or slashed to show the voluminous sleeves of the shirt or chemise beneath. Waistlines rose.

Spanish fashions remained very conservative. The ruff lingered longest in Spain and Holland, but disappeared first for men and later for women in France and England.

The social tensions leading to the English Civil War were reflected in English fashion, with the elaborate French styles popular at the courts of James I and his son Charles I contrasting with the sober styles in "sadd" or somber colours favoured by Puritans and exported to the early settlements of New England (see below).

In the early decades of the century, a trend among poets and artists to adopt a fashionable pose of melancholia is reflected in fashion, where the characteristic touches are dark colours, open collars, unbuttoned gowns or doublets, and a generally disheveled appearance, accompanied in portraits by world-weary poses and sad expressions.

Fashions influenced by royal courts

Fabric and patterns

Figured silks with elaborate pomegranate or artichoke patterns are still seen in this period, especially in Spain, but a lighter style of scrolling floral motifs, woven or embroidered, was popular, especially in England.

The great flowering of needlelace occurred in this period. Geometric reticella deriving from cutwork was elaborated into true needlelace or "punto in aria" (called in England "point lace"), which also reflected the popular scrolling foral designs. [ [http://www.bayrose.org/needlework/reticella_rev.pdf Berry, Robin L.: "Reticella: a walk through the beginnings of Lace"] (2004) (PDF)] ] [Kliot, Jules and Kaethe: "The Needle-Made Lace of Reticella".] [Montupet, Janine, and Ghislaine Schoeller: "Lace: The Elegant Web"]

In England, embroidered linen jackets fastened with ribbon ties were fashionable for both men and women from c. 1600-1620, as was reticella tinted with yellow starch. Gowns with split sleeves (often trimmed with horizontal rows of braid) were worn by both men and women.

From the 1620s, surface ornament fell out of fashion in favour of solid-colour satins, and functional ribbon bows or points became elaborate masses of rosettes and looped trim.

Portraiture and fantasy

In England from the 1630s, under the influence of literature and especially court masques, Anthony van Dyck and his followers created a fashion for having one's portrait painted in exotic, historical or pastoral dress, or in simplified contemporary fashion with various scarves, cloaks, mantles, and jewels added to evoke a classic or romantic mood, and also to prevent the portrait appearing dated within a few years. These paintings are the progenitors of the fashion of the later 17th century for having one's portrait painted in "undress", and do not necessarily reflect clothing as it was actually worn. [See Gordenker, "Van Dyck and the Representation of Dress in Seventeenth-Century Portraiture". Also see de Winkel, op cit. pp. 70-71]

Women's fashions

Gowns, bodices, and petticoats

In the early years of the new century, fashionable bodices had high necklines or extremely low, rounded necklines, and short "wings" at the shoulders. Separate closed cartwheel ruffs were worn. Long sleeves were worn with deep cuffs to match the ruff. The cartwheel ruff disappeared in fashionable England by 1613. [See [http://www.bergercollection.org/artwork_detail.php?i=35 Costume notes to portrait of Mary Radclyffe, Denver Museum of Art] ]

By the mid-1620s, styles were relaxing. Ruffs were discarded in favour of wired wing collars called "rebatos" and, later, wide, flat collars. By the 1630s and 1640s, collars were accompanied by kerchiefs similar to the linen kerchiefs worn by middle-class women in the previous century; often the collar and kerchief were trimmed with matching lace.

Bodices were long-waisted at the beginning of the century, but waistlines rose steadily to the 1640s before beginning to drop again. Bodices with wide, low, straight necklines were worn with matching or contrasting stomachers that ended in a broad, rounded point below the higher waist. Separate stomachers later disappeared in favour of bodices closed in front with tabbed skirts called "basques"; these were often worn with a ribbon sash.

The long, tight sleeves of the early 1600s grew shorter, fuller, and looser. A common style of 1620s and 1630s was the virago sleeve, a full, slashed sleeve gathered into two puffs by a ribbon or other trim above the elbow.

In France and England, lightweight bright or pastel-coloured satins replaced dark, heavy fabrics. As in other periods, painters tended to avoid the difficulty of painting striped fabrics; it is clear from inventories that these were common. [Marieke de Winkel in:Rudi Ekkart and Quentin Buvelot (eds), "Dutch Portraits, The Age of Rembrandt and Frans Hals", Mauritshuis/National Gallery/Waanders Publishers, Zwolle, p.73, 2007, ISBN 9781857093629] Short strings of pearls were fashionable.

Unfitted gowns (called "nightgowns" in England) with long hanging sleeves, short open sleeves, or no sleeves at all were worn over the bodice and skirt and tied with a ribbon sash at the waist. In England of the 1610s and '20s, a loose nightgown was often worn over an embroidered jacket called a "waistcoat" and a contrasting embroidered petticoat, without a farthingale. [See Aileen Ribeiro, "Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England"] Black gowns were worn for the most formal occasions; they fell out of fashion in England in the 1630s in favour of gowns to match the bodice and petticoat, but remained an important item of clothing on the Continent.

At least in the Netherlands the open-fronted overgown or "vlieger" was strictly reserved for married women. Before marriage the "bouwen", "a dress with a fitted bodice and a skirt that was closed all round" was worn instead; it was known in England as a "Dutch" or "round gown". [Marieke de Winkel in:Rudi Ekkart and Quentin Buvelot (eds), "Dutch Portraits, The Age of Rembrandt and Frans Hals", Mauritshuis/National Gallery/Waanders Publishers, Zwolle, p.67, 2007, ISBN 9781857093629]

Skirts might be open in front to reveal an underskirt or petticoat until about 1630, or closed all around; closed skirts were sometimes carried or worn looped up to reveal a petticoat.


Underwear consisted of a linen chemise or smock and (optionally) linen drawers. The chemise could have a low, square neckline or a high neckline; either style could be worn with ruffs (to c. 1625) or the newly fashionable broad collars.

Corsets were shorter to suit the new bodices, and might have a very stiff "busk" in the center front extending to the depth of the stomacher. Skirts were held in the proper shape by a padded roll or "French farthingale" holding the skirts out in a rounded shape at the waist, falling in soft folds to the floor. The drum or wheel farthingale was worn at the English court until the death of Anne of Denmark in 1619.

In conservative Spanish court fashion, the cone-shaped Spanish farthingale of the last century lingered well into the period, to be replaced by wide French farthingales toward the 1650s, long after they had gone out of style elsewhere.

Hairstyles and headgear

To about 1613, hair was worn feathered high over the forehead. Married women wore their hair in a linen coif or cap, often with lace trim. Tall hats like those worn by men were adopted for outdoor wear.

In a characteristic style of 1625-1650, hair was worn in loose curls or waves to the shoulders on the sides, with the rest of the hair gathered or braided into a high bun at the back of the head. A short fringe or bangs might be worn with this style. Very fashionable married women abandoned the linen cap and wore their hair uncovered or with a hat.

tyle gallery 1600-1620

#" and is worn over a linen cap. She wears a black gown and a white stomacher over a chemise with blackwork emboridery trim; her neckline is filled in with a linen partlet.
# wears a bodice with a low, round neckline and tight sleeve, with a matching petticoat pinned into flounces on a drum or cartwheel farthingale, 1605. The high-fronted hairstyle was briefly fashionable.
# of Spain, Regent of the Netherlands, wears a cartwheel ruff and wide, flat ruffles at her wrists. Her split-sleeved gown in the Spanish fashion is trimmed with wide bands of braid or fabric, 1609.
# in the very low rounded neckline and closed cartwheel ruff of c.1610. The black silk strings on her jewelry were a passing fashion.
# wears mourning for her son, Henry, Prince of Wales, 1612. She wears a black wired cap and black lace.
# (traditionally called Dorothy Cary, Later Viscountess Rochford) wears an embroidered linen jacket with ribbon ties and embroidered petticoat under a black gown with hanging sleeves lined in gray. Her reticella lace collar, cuffs, and hood are tinted with yellow starch.
#' young woman wears a chain girdle over her black "vlieger" open-fronted gown, reserved for married women, and an elongated bodice with matching tight sleeves and petticoat. She is wearing a padded roll to hold her skirt in the fashionable shape. Dutch, 1618-20.
# wears an embroidered jacket-bodice and petticoat under a red velvet gown. She wears a sheer partlet over an embroidered high-necked chemise, c. 1620.

tyle gallery 1620s

# tucked into the newly fashionable high-waisted petticoat of c. 1620. She wears a sheer apron or overskirt, a falling ruff, and an embroidered cap with lace trim. The jacket itself is in the longer fashion of the previous decade. [The jacket has been preserved and can be seen at the [http://www.vam.ac.uk/images/image/12652-popup.htmlin Victoria and Albert Museum web site] . ]
# in widowhood wears black with a black wired cap and veil, c. 1620-21.
#, Queen of France, wears an open bodice over a stomacher and virago sleeves, with a closed ruff. Note looser cuffs. C. 1621-25.
# wears an open high-necked chemise, red sleeves tied on with ribbon points, and a broad-brimmed hat with plumes, 1625.
# wears a black gown over a gold bodice and sleeves and a striped petticoat, 1623-26.
# wears a black gown and a sheer ruff with large, soft figure-of-eight pleats seen in Italian portraits of this period. Her hair is caught in a cylindrical cap or caul of pearls. Genoa, c. 1626.
# wears a short-waisted gown with a sash over a tabbed bodice with a long stomacher and matching pettiicoat and virago sleeves, c. 1629-30.

tyle gallery 1630s

# shows creases from starching and ironing, 1630.
# wearing the informal English fashion of a brightly coloured bodice and petticoat without an overgown. Her bodice has deep tabs at the waist and virago sleeves, 1630.
# wears a simple, black dress. This is a testament to the austerity of the Spanish court, 1632.
#, are often seen in portraits of this period. [See Aileen Ribeiro, "Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England"]
# wears the formal English court costume of a gown with short open sleeves over a matching bodice with virago sleeves and a simple petticoat, 1632.
# wears a white satin tabbed bodice with full sleeves trimmed with silver braid or lace and a matching petticoat. Her bodice is laced up with a coral ribbon over a stomacher. A matching ribbon is set in a V-shape at her front waist and tied in a bow to one side. She wears a lace-trimmed smock or partlet with a broad, square collar. A ribbon and a string of pearls decorate her hair, 1632.
#'s riding costume consists of a jacket-bodice of blue satin with long tabbed skirts and a matching long petticoat. She wears a broad-brimmed hat with ostrich plumes, 1633.
# wears a double cartwheel ruff that remained popular in Holland through the period. She wears a black gown with a brocaded stomacher and virago sleeves, and a white linen cap, 1635.
# wears a black gown, bodice, and petticoat worn with an open-necked chemise with a broad, starched lace collar, gray satin sleeves tied with rose-coloured ribbons, and a broad-brimmed black hat cocked up on one side and decorated with a hatband and plumes, 1638.

tyle gallery 1640s

# wears a bright blue bodice and petticoat with yellow ribbons and a lace-trimmed kerchief pinned at her neck. Her daughters Mary and Elizabeth wear gold-coloured bodices and petticoats, 1640.
# in the style of Van Dyck shows her in a flame-coloured satin gown without a collar or kerchief. She wears a fur piece draped over her shoulder, 1640.
# wears a pointed stomacher under a front-lacing, high-waisted black gown. Her matching linen kerchief, collar and cuffs are trimmed with lace, and she wears a high-necked chemise or partlet, Holland, 1641.
#'s costume is trimmed in lace in keeping with her station, but she wears the closed linen cap or coif, tall hat, unrevealing neckline, and sober colours favoured by Puritans, c. 1645. Her long-fronted bodice and open skirt are conservative fashions at this date.

Men's fashions

hirts, doublets, and jerkins

Linen shirts had deep cuffs. Shirt sleeves became fuller throughout the period. To the 1620s, a collar wired to stick out horizontally, called a "whisk", was popular. Other styles included an unstarched ruff-like collar and, later, a rectangular "falling band" lying on the shoulders. Beards adopted the term Van Dyke, they were pointed and often a large and wide moustache was grown too.
Doublets were pointed and fitted close to the body, with tight sleeves, to about 1615. Gradually waistlines rose and sleeves became fuller, and both body and upper sleeves might be slashed to show the shirt beneath. By 1640 doublets were full and unfitted, and might be open at the front below the high waist to show the shirt.

Sleeveless leather jerkins were worn by soldiers and are seen in portraits, but otherwise the jerkin rapidly fell out of fashion for indoor wear.

Hose and breeches

"Paned" or "pansied" "trunk hose" or "round hose", padded hose with strips of fabric ("panes") over a full inner layer or lining, were worn early in the period, over "cannions", fitted hose that ended above the knee. Trunk hose were longer than in the previous period, and were pear-shaped, with less fullness at the waist and more at mid-thigh.

"Slops" or "galligaskins", loose hose reaching just below the knee, replaced all other styles of hose by the 1620s, and were now generally called breeches. Breeches might be fastened up the outer leg with buttons or buckles over a full lining.

From 1600 to c. 1630, hose or breeches were fastened to doublets by means of ties or "points", short laces or ribbons pulled through matching sets of worked eyelets. Points were tied in bows at the waist and became more elaborate until they disappeared with the very short waisted doublets of the late 1630s. Decorated metal tips on points were called aiguillettes or aiglets, and those of the wealthy were made of precious metals set with pearls and other gemstones.Scarisbrick, Diana, "Tudor and Jacobean Jewellery", p. 99-100]

Spanish breeches, rather stiff ungathered breeches, were also popular throughout the era.


Gowns were worn early in the period, but fell out of fashion in the 1620s.

Short cloaks or capes, usually hip-length, often with sleeves, were worn by fashionable men, usually slung artistically over the left shoulder, even indoors; a fashion of the 1630s matched the cape fabric to the breeches and its lining to the doublet. Long cloaks were worn for inclement weather.

Hairstyles and headgear

Early in the period, hair was worn collar-length and brushed back from the forehead; very fashionable men wore a single long strand of hair called a lovelock over one shoulder. Hairstyles grew longer through the period, and long loose curls were fashionable by the late '30s and '40s, pointing toward the ascendance of the wig in the 1660s.

Pointed beards and wide mustaches were fashionable.

To about 1620, the fashionable hat was the capotain, with a tall conical crown rounded at the top and a narrow brim. By the 1630s, the crown was shorter and the brim was wider, often worn "cocked" or pinned up on one side and decorated with a mass of ostrich plumes.

Close-fitting caps called coifs or "biggins" were worn only by young children and old men under their hats or alone indoors.

tyle gallery 1600s-1620s

# and his companion wear doublets with wide wings and tight sleeves, and matching full breeches with soft pleats at the waist. For hunting, they wear plain linen shirts with flat collars and short cuffs at the wrist. Their soft boots turn down into cuffs below the knee, and are worn with linen boot hose. The prince wears a felt hat with a feather, 1606-09.
#, in a fashionably melancholic pose c. 1610, wears an embroidered linen jacket under a brown gown with split sleeves. The gown sleeves have buttons and parallel rows of fringed braid that make button loops. The flat pleats or darts that shape his sheer collar and cuffs are visible. He wears an earring hung by a black cord.
#). His doublet, shoes, and the cuffs of his gloves are embroidered to match, and he wears a sleeved cloak on one arm and very full hose.
# wears the unstarched ruff that became popular in England in the 1620s. His hose reach to the lower thigh and are worn with scarlet stockings and heeled shoes, 1623.
# wears a black patterned doublet with full black breeches, black stockings, and flat black shoes with roses. He carried a wide-brimmed black hat, 1628.
#. By the 1620s, doublets were still pointed but the waistline was rising above long "tabs" or skirts. Sleeves are slashed to the elbow and tight below. Points are more elaborate bows, and hose have completed the transition to breeches.
# wears full knee-length breeches with a matching short-waisted doublet slashed across the chest with sleeves slashed to the elbow. His shirt collar has a high stand and fall on his shoulders, and is trimmed with scallops of lace. He wears cuffed boots and spurs with butterfly-shaped "spur leathers", and carries a cocked hat, 1629.

tyle gallery 1630s-1640s

#. The short-waisted doublet is slashed across the back. Points have elaborate ribbon rosettes (note matching points at hem of breeches).
# wears breeches and doublet of brown and silver and a dark cloak all trimmed with silver lace. His sleeves are white and he wears white stockings, plain black shoes, and brown leather gloves, 1631-32.
# (neck armor) of a soldier. His jerkin is open from the mid-chest, and his breeches match his cape, 1634.
#'s doublet of 1635 is shorter waisted, and points have disappeared. He wears a broad-brimmed hat and boots.
# Brothers Lord John Stuart and Lord Bernard Stuart wear contrasting satin doublets and breeches, satin-lined short cloaks, and high collars with lavish lace scallops. Their high-heeled boots have deep cuffs and are worn over boot hose with lace tops, c. 1638.
#" and a broad sash, both fashionable among soldiers. 1639.
# over a fashionable doublet and breeches trimmed with ribbon bows.
# in military dress, 1644, wears a broad linen collar and matching cuffs. His sleeved short gown or cassock of red with metallic embroidery is worn over a buff jerkin and silver-gray sleeves. He carries a broad-brimmed black hat cocked on one side.


Flat shoes were worn to around 1610, when a low heel became popular. The ribbon tie over the instep that had appeared on late sixteenth century shoes grew into elaborate lace or ribbon rosettes called "shoe roses" that were worn by the most fashionable men and women.

Backless slippers called "pantofles" were worn indoors.

By the 1620s, heeled boots became popular for indoor as well as outdoor wear. The boots themselves were usually turned down below the knee; boot tops became wider until the "bucket-top" boot associated with "The Three Musketeers" appeared in the 1630s. Spurs straps featured decorative butterfly-shaped "spur leathers" over the instep.

Wooden clogs or pattens were worn outdoors over shoes and boots to keep the high heels from sinking into soft dirt.

Stockings had elaborate "clocks" or embroidery at the ankles early in the period. "Boothose" of stout linen were worn under boots to protect fine knitted stockings; these could be trimmed with lace.

Children's fashion

Toddler boys wore gowns or skirts and doublets until they were "breeched".

implicity of dress

In both Protestant and Catholic countries, attempts were made to simplify and reform the extravagances of dress. Louis XIII of France issued sumptuary laws in 1629 and 1633 that prohibited lace, gold trim, and lavish embroidery for all but the highest nobility, [Kõhler, Carl: "A History of Costume", p. 289] , and restricting puffs, slashes, and bunches of ribbon. The effects of this reform effort are depicted in a series of popular engravings by Abraham Bosse. [Lefébure, Ernest: "Embroidery and Lace: Their Manufacture and History from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Day", p.230 ]

Puritan dress

Puritans advocated a conservative form of fashionable attire, characterized by "sad" or somber colours and modest cuts. Gowns with low necklines were filled in with high-necked smocks and wide collars. Married women covered their hair with a linen cap, over which they might wear a tall black hat. Men and women both avoided bright colours, shiny fabrics, and over-ornamentation.

Contrary to popular belief, most Puritans and Calvinists did not wear black for everyday, especially in England, Scotland, and colonial America. Black dye was expensive and faded quickly, and black clothing was reserved for the most formal occasions (including having ones portrait painted), for elders in a community, and for those of higher rank. Richer puritans, like their Dutch Calvinist contemporaries, probably did wear it often, but in silk, often patterned. More typical colours for most were brown, murrey (mulberry, a brownish-maroon), dull greens, and tawny colours. Wool and linen were preferred over silks and satins, though Puritan women of rank wore modest amounts of lace and embroidery as appropriate to their station, believing that the various ranks of society were divinely ordained and should be reflected even in the most modest dress. William Perkins wrote "...that apparel is necessary for Scholar, the Tradesman, the Countryman, the Gentleman; which serveth not only to defend their bodies from cold, but which belongs also to the place, degree, calling, and condition of them all" ("Cases of Conscience", 1616). [ See [http://www.covenanter.org/Attire/perkinsapparel.htm "Cases of Conscience", 1616] ]

Some Puritans rejected the long, curled hair as effeminate, and favoured a shorter fashion which led to the nickname Roundheads for adherents of the English Parliamentary party, but the tastes for lavish or simple dress cut across both parties in the English Civil War.Ribeiro, Aileen: "Dress and Morality", Berg Publishers 2003, ISBN 185973782X, p. 12-16]

Working class clothing

#: Men wear tall capotain hats; women wear similar hats or linen headdresses, 1608.
# wear broad-brimmed hats. The woman wears a jacket-bodice and contrasting petticoat. Men wear full breeches and doublets, c. 1620.
#, c. 1635. The pikeman on the right wears a full-skirted buff jerkin. Spanish, before 1635.
# wear floppy hats, wrinkled stockings and long, high-waisted jerkins, some with sleeves, and blunt-toed shoes.
# small game wears a grey buttoned jerkin with short sleeves and matching breeches over a red doublet. He wears a fur-lined hat and grey gloves, Germany, 1643.



*Ashelford, Jane: "The Art of Dress: Clothing and Society 1500-1914", Abrams, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-6317-5

*Arnold, Janet: "Patterns of Fashion: the cut and construction of clothes for men and women 1560-1620", Macmillan 1985. Revised edition 1986. (ISBN 0-89676-083-9)

* [http://www.bayrose.org/needlework/reticella_rev.pdf Berry, Robin L.: "Reticella: a walk through the beginnings of Lace" (2004) (PDF)]

*Black, J. Anderson and Madge Garland: "A History of Fashion", Morrow, 1975. ISBN 0-688-02893-4

*Gordenker, Emilie E.S.: "Van Dyck and the Representation of Dress in Seventeenth-Century Portraiture", Brepols, 2001, ISBN 2-503-50880-4

*Kliot, Jules and Kaethe: "The Needle-Made Lace of Reticella", Lacis Publications, Berkeley, CA, 1994. ISBN 0-916896-57-9.

*Kõhler, Carl: "A History of Costume", Dover Publications reprint, 1963, from 1928 Harrap translation from the German, ISBN 0-4862-1030-8

*Lefébure, Ernest: "Embroidery and Lace: Their Manufacture and History from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Day", London, H. Grevel and Co., 1888, ed. by Alan S. Cole, at [http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Lef%26eacute%3Bbure%2C%20Ernest%2C%20b.%201835 Online Books ] , retrieved 14 October 2007

*Montupet, Janine, and Ghislaine Schoeller: "Lace: The Elegant Web", ISBN 0-8109-3553-8.

*Ribeiro, Aileen: "Dress and Morality", Berg Publishers 2003, ISBN 185973782X, p. 12-16]

*Ribeiro, Aileen: "Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Lierature in Stuart England", Yale, 2005, ISBN 0-300-10999-7

*Scarisbrick, Diana, "Tudor and Jacobean Jewellery", London, Tate Publishing, 1995, ISBN1854371584

*Winkel, Marieke de, "The 'Portrayal' of Clothing in the Golden Age" in: Rudi Ekkart and Quentin Buvelot (eds), "Dutch Portraits, The Age of Rembrandt and Frans Hals", Mauritshuis/National Gallery/Waanders Publishers, Zwolle, p.64-73, 2007, ISBN 9781857093629]

External links

* [http://www.marquise.de/en/1600/index.shtml Baroque Fashion 1600s]
* [http://www.cwu.edu/~robinsos/ppages/resources/Costume_History/cavalier.htm Costume History: Cavalier/Puritan]
* [http://womenshistory.about.com/library/pic/hollar/blhollar1.htm Women's Fashions of the 17th Century] (engravings by Wenceslaus Hollar)
* [http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/feuille/html/index_mode.htm Etchings of French 1620s men's fashion (mostly) by Abraham Bosse]
* [http://www.museumofcostume.co.uk/index.cfm?fuseAction=SM.nav&UUID=0C4DD2BF-7BCE-4C68-833AB837AAD7631B Surviving embroidered linen jacket c. 1620 at the Museum of Costume]
* [http://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?recview=true&id=116779 Surviving embroidered linen jacket c. 1610-1615 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]

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