The definition of metrosexual, though coined in our time, can surely be applied to Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester (1532-1588) for he was an urban, well-groomed and well-dressed male of his day.

Pearls were the Elizabethans' favorite gemstone. His heavily bejeweled clothes included a doublet slashed to reveal white bits of his undershirt. Along the slashes and elsewhere are round clusters of pearls.

His elaborate necklace was made from several strands of cream colored pearls and possibly dark colored ones too and bore a cameo-style pendant. Although he was not wearing any earrings in the portrait, many male contemporaries did. After the Elizabethan age, earrings eventually fell out of favour with men although it is back in fashion in our day.

Robert Dudley was a court favorite of Queen Elizabeth I of England. This portrait of him was painted in the 1560's at the height of his popularity when he was angling to marry his queen. Quite the ladies' man, rumors abounded regarding his marital ambitions and also the mysterious death of his wife from a fall down a flight of stairs.

Elizabeth liked to flirt but never gave any hints that she would marry this man nor any man and sought to distance herself from him, no matter how dapper or flattering he was. Her intentions to rule alone were clear when she famously addressed her troops , "I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a King, and of a King of England too!"

Robert Dudley never stood a chance.

Wikipedia : Robert Dudley
Wikipedia : Elizabeth I
Hugh Tait (1986). Jewelry : 7,000 Years. British Museum.

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