OVERVIEW

Womenswear

Wikipedia writes of 15th-century fashion:

“Fashion in 15th-century Europe was characterized by a series of extremes and extravagances, from the voluminous gowns called houppelandes with their sweeping floor-length sleeves to the revealing doublets and hose of Renaissance Italy. Hats, hoods, and other headdresses assumed increasing importance, and were swagged, draped, jewelled, and feathered.

As Europe continued to grow more prosperous, the urban middle classes, skilled workers, began to wear more complex clothes that followed, at a distance, the fashions set by the elites. It is in this time period that we begin to see fashion take on a temporal aspect. People could now be dated by their clothes, and being in “out of date” clothing became a new social concern. National variations in clothing seem on the whole to have increased over the 15th century.”

Hochaltar des Ulmer Münsters, Szene: Gastmahl des Herodes

Fig. 1 - Meister des Ulmer Hochaltars. Hochaltar des Ulmer Münsters, Szene: Gastmahl des Herodes, circa 1405. Color on canvas mounted on wood; 93 × 61 cm (36.6 × 24 in). Stuttgart: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. Source: Wikimedia

Christine de Pisan instructs her son, Jean de Castel. Collected Works of Christine de Pisan

Fig. 2 - Bedford Master. Christine de Pisan instructs her son, Jean de Castel. Collected Works of Christine de Pisan, ca. 1413. Illumination on parchment. London: British Library, Harley 4431. Source: Wikipedia

Menswear

Wikipedia writes of menswear in this period:

“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 Houppelande, in Italy called the cioppa, is the characteristic overgarment of the wealthy in the first half of the 15th century. It was essentially a robe with fullness falling from the shoulders in organ pleats and very full sleeves often reaching to the floor with, at the start of the 16th century, a high collar. The houppelande could be lined in fur, and the hem and sleeves might be dagged or cut into scallops. It was initially often worn belted, but later mostly hanging straight. The length of the garment shortened from around the ankle to above the knee over this period. The floor-length sleeves were later wrist-length but very full, forming a bag or sack sleeve, or were worn off the arm, hanging ornamentally behind.

A sideless overgown or tabard, called a giornea in Italy and a journade in France, was popular. It was usually pleated and was worn hanging loose or belted. Young men wore them short and older men wore them calf- or ankle-length.”

Livre de Chasse

Fig. 1 - (France). Livre de Chasse, ca. 1405-1410. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 616 folio 51v. Source: Wikipedia

King Henry IV England, Ruled 1399-1413

Fig. 2 - unknown. King Henry IV England, Ruled 1399-1413, c. 1402. National Archives UK, DL 42/1. Source: UK National Archives

Carlo VI di Francia, Ruled France from 1380-1422

Fig. 3 - De Vecchi-Cerchiari. Carlo VI di Francia, Ruled France from 1380-1422, 1411-1413. Geneva Library, Ms.fr.165. Source: Geneva Library

CHILDREN’S WEAR

References:

Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1400-1409
Rulers:

Treaty of Frankfurt, 1871. Source: Omniatlas

Events:
  • 1430 – The conical headdress in the shape of a cone or “steeple”- the stereotypical princess hat- makes an appearance.
  • 1431 – Joan of Arc leads the French armies to victory against the English. She is burned as a heretic on May 30, 1431 – One of the main charges against her was that she wore male clothing and cut her hair short–transvestitism was against church doctrine.
  • 1450s – Sable, lynx, and other exotic furs become fashionable, replacing squirrel furs such as miniver and vair. Ermine remains the prerogative of royalty. Women’s hair is pulled back from forehead and covered by a caul (small bag worn over a bun at the back of the head) or a crespine (mesh net). Fashionable women shave their foreheads and eyebrows. In warmer Italy married women wear their hair long, braided, in loose knots, and uncovered. Brocade becomes a luxury fabric as weaving techniques improve. The best fabric comes from Italy with Chinese, Indian, and Persian motifs reflecting increased trade with these countries.

Primary/Period Sources

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