OVERVIEW

Womenswear

Wikipedia writes:

“Women’s fashions of the 15th century consisted of a long gown, usually with sleeves, worn over a kirtle or undergown, with a linen chemise or smock worn next to the skin. The sleeves were made detachable and were heavily ornamented. The long-waisted silhouette of the previous period was replaced by a high-waisted style with fullness over the belly, often confined by a belt. The wide, shallow scooped neckline was replaced by a V-neck, often cut low enough to reveal the decorated front of the kirtle beneath.

Various styles of overgowns were worn. The cotehardie fitted smoothly from the shoulders to the hips and then flared by means of inserted triangular gores. It featured sleeves tight to the elbow with hanging streamers or tippets. The tight fit was achieved with lacing or buttons. This style faded rapidly from fashion in favor of the houppelande, a full robe with a high collar and wide sleeves that had become fashionable around 1380 and remained so to mid-15th century. The later houppelande had sleeves that were snug at the wrist, making a full “bag” sleeve. The bag sleeve was sometimes slashed in the front to allow the lower arm to reach through.”

Hamburg Altar: Adoration of the Magi

Fig. 1 - Absalon Stumme (German). Hamburg Altar: Adoration of the Magi, 1499. Tempura on panel; 233 x 171 cm. Hamburg: Hamburger Kunsthalle. Source: Pinterest

Violante Bentivoglio and Elisabetta Aldobrandini, detail from his altarpiece of San Vincenzo Ferrer

Fig. 2 - Domenico Ghirlandaio (Italian, 1448-1494). Violante Bentivoglio and Elisabetta Aldobrandini, detail from his altarpiece of San Vincenzo Ferrer, 1494. Rimini: Musei di Rimini. Source: Chiamamicitta

Menswear

Wikipedia writes:

“The basic costume of men in this period consisted of a shirt, doublet, and hose, with some sort of overgown (robe worn over clothing).

Linen shirts were worn next to the skin. Toward the end of the period, shirts (French chemise, Italian camicia, Spanish camisa) began to be full through the body and sleeves with wide, low necklines; the sleeves were pulled through the slashings or piecing of the doublet sleeves to make puffs, especially at the elbow and the back of the arm. As the cut of doublets revealed more fabric, wealthy men’s shirts were often decorated with embroidery or applied braid.

Over the shirt was worn a doublet. From around the mid-15th century very tight-fitting doublets, belted or tailored to be tight at the waist, giving in effect a short skirt below, were fashionable, at least for the young. Sleeves were generally full, even puffy, and when worn with a large chaperon, the look was extremely stylish, but very top-heavy. Very tight hose, and long pointed shoes or thigh-boots gave a long attenuated appearance below the waist, and a chunky, solid one above. The doublet was often elaborately pleated, especially at the back, the pleats being achieved by various means. In Italy both shirt and doublet were often high, tight and collarless at the front of the neck; sometimes they are shown higher at the front than the back.

Men of all classes wore short braies or breeches, a loose undergarment, usually made of linen, which was held up by a belt. Hose or chausses made out of wool were used to cover the legs, and were generally brightly colored. Early hose sometimes had leather soles and were worn without shoes or boots. Hose were generally tied to the breech belt, or to the breeches themselves, or to a doublet.

As doublets became shorter, hose reached to the waist rather than the hips, and were sewn together into a single garment with a pouch or flap to cover the front opening; this evolved into the codpiece.

The hose exposed by short tops were, especially in Italy late in the 15th century, often strikingly patterned, parti-coloured (different colours for each leg, or vertically divided), or embroidered. Hose were cut on the cross-grain or bias for stretch.”

Crossbowman, detail from the Martyrdom of St Sebastian

Fig. 1 - Luca Signorelli (Italian, 1445-1523). Crossbowman, detail from the Martyrdom of St Sebastian, 1498. Tempera on wood; 288 x 175 cm (113 x 68in). Umbria: Pinacoteca Comunale, Città di Castello. Source: YOONIQ IMAGES

Portrait of a Man, possibly Matteo di Sebastiano di Bernardino Gozzadini

Fig. 2 - Maestro delle Storie del Pane (Italian). Portrait of a Man, possibly Matteo di Sebastiano di Bernardino Gozzadini, 1494. Tempera on wood; 52.7 x 37.1 cm (20.7 x 14.6 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975.1.95. Robert Lehman Collection, 1975. Source: Metmuseum

CHILDREN’S WEAR

References:

Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1490-1499
Rulers:

Europe during the 15th Century. Source: University of Texas Libraries

Events:
  • 1492 – Columbus invaded the New World
  • 1490s – Metal pins cost a penny each in Henry VIII’s time so fish bones and thorns are often used for sewing.
  • Primary/Period Sources

    Resources for Fashion History Research

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    Digitized Primary/Period Sources

    Secondary Sources

    Also see the 15th-century overview page for more research sources… or browse our Zotero library.

    Online

    Books/Articles
    Pinterest