Saturday, 12 October 2013

Clothing for 1420-1482: One outfit from 1450

Here is an outfit I wear regularly. It is based on images from 1450 in Franco-Flemish artwork. Last weekend I attended a 3-day camping event - it was hot so I wore the layers up to the kirtle, without sleeves. Yesterday, I presented a unit, for a school group, on life in the Middle Ages - these photos were taken straight after that event.

First layers 
Smock/sherte - Linen with embroidered neckline and cuffs. A high scooped neckline without embroidery would be more common in most lower to middle class outfits.

Shoes - These leather poulaines are by far my most comfortable shoes. It took a few events to get used to walking, as the soles are very slick and the pointed toes collect long grass. Now, they are by far my favourite to wear. They have been worn in all weather, including under ankle deep water and mud at a very wet Great Northern War. A great purchase!

Hosen - woollen knee high hosen. The garter is unnecessary for this pair and was only being worn to as part of the demonstration.

Veil - this headwear is a combination of two veils. It is a middle class style, and can be altered to many other styles, by ruffling the outer veil and pinning into different bumps. I will detail the method in another post.

Structure - underskirt
This under skirt adds structure to the kirtle skirt. It keeps my legs warm and creates a solid base for the kirtle. There is less evidence in the mid 15th C in the low countries for this layer. It appears to be a common French practice of the time to wear multiple long sleeve kirtles at once, negating the need for the underskirt. It was 37 degrees Celsius last time I wore this outfit, so I must admit that it is a very rare event (maybe once a year) that is cool enough to wear multiple full sleeve kirtles. This layer is a compromise, rather than a strict reconstruction.

Kirtle layer
The green kirtle is laced in the front, using solid brass rings. When put on, it laces smoothly. After wearing it for a day, the lacing shifts to gap over the bust. The skirt is tucked up, as seen in illustrations of ladies working in doors. Those working in fields often only show the kirtle layer, and are tucked up to bare the lower legs for ease of movement. I wear a small purse on my belt - there are images in Boccaccio's Decameron of two girls with pouches in this position. There are other images of women with purses hanging on the kirtle layer, showing beneath their lifted gowns. These other styles seem to hang more to the sides, and do not show their attachment to the belt or kirtle. The sleeves are pinned on, and come in a range of colours and materials. None for dirty kitchen work, rich silk brocade for under a gown with hanging sleeves.

This black woollen gown is in the middle class houpeland style. It originally had a fur lined bodice, but it turned out to be too hot. The fur is now a trim around the neckline and cuffs.