Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Layers of Clothing

This, thus far, is what I have determined from sources was worn by my current period of choice.

From the bottom to the top:

A linen shirt (chemise or smock) cut loosely, reaching to below the knee, usually white and very plain, with neither decoration nor drawstring at the neck. More affluent women are sometimes portrayed in very sheer shirts, almost transparent, and using very large amounts of material. Pleats under the arms, surplus of material gathered or pleated at the neck and over the hips.

An underdress (kirtle or cote) was a close-fitting rather plain ankle-length garment, usually closed down the front or back by laces, and sometimes at the sides. The neckline was usually wide, but not too low and showed little of the chemise. Sleeves were usually close-fitting and frequently short, with long false sleeves pinned on. This was the womens' everyday working dress. The elasticity of the woolen cloth, together with skillful tailoring (including pleats and darts) helped the more fashion-conscious achieve the desireable smooth fit.

An overdress (gown, houppelande, robe) was very often worn over the underdress, completely covering it, and was simply a slightly longer version of the underdress. The latter would perhaps only be visible at the neck, or if the skirts of the overdress were hitched up. Fuller styles were popular, falling in rich folds and frequently belted high above the waist. Wide belts were popular; they seem to be made of cloth woven like "webbing", or sometimes of leather patterned to represent weaving. Heavier woolen cloth and fur linings were used by all but the very poor in cold weather (cheap furs could be procured). Skirts were sometimes cut to trail on the ground.

Brass and iron pins were used to pin head-dresses, sleeves, etc. The less than perfectly smooth surface of the handmade pin kept it from falling out.

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