Seventeenth-century poetics makes heavy use of clothing metaphors to explain rhetorical devices. Of course it is not clothing per se, that ist found to be useful in illumnating the principle of poetic or decorative language but the concept of border, of hierarchically organized gradations of oranamentation. The similarity, the 'simile' between the discourse on ornamentation in rhetoric and the discourse on ornamentation in dress which has come to be associated with a gendered display of power is the focus of this article. We are accustomed to seeing vestimentary codes as highly gendered. When examining the history of fashion in seventeenth century Europe, it becomes apparent that social hierarchy is the dominant means of classification, gender is a secondary means. Likewise, when dress is used metaphorically, the tertium comparationis is hierarchy. In both signifying systems - dress and poetic language - rank and class supersedes gender.