A jerkin is a man's short close-fitting
jacket, made usually of
leather, and without
sleeves, worn over the
doublet in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries.
The stock phrase buff jerkin
refers to an oiled oxhide jerkin, as worn by soldiers.
Leather jerkins of the sixteenth century were often slashed
and punched, both for decoration and to improve the fit.
Jerkins were worn closed at the neck and hanging open
over the peascod-bellied fashion of doublet (as worn
Martin Frobisher). At the turn of the seventeenth century,
the fashion was to wear the jerkin buttoned at the waist
and open above to reflect the fashionable narrow-waisted
silhouette (as worn by
Sir Walter Raleigh, 1602).
By the mid-seventeenth century, jerkins were high-waisted
and long-skirted like doublets of the period.
The origin of the word is unknown. The Dutch wordjurk,
a child's frock, often taken as the source, is modern, and
represents neither the sound nor the sense of the English