Wikipedia summarizes women’s fashion of the 1470s, writing:
“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, jeweled, 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 People could now be dated by their clothes, and being in “out of date” clothing became a new social concern.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.”

About new techniques, Wikipedia writes:

“Slashing is a decorative technique that involved making small cuts on the outer fabric of a garment in order to reveal the inner garment or lining. It was performed on all varieties of clothing both men’s and women’s. This practice, revealed brightly colored pieces of fabric from underneath an outer garment. Contemporary chroniclers identify the source of the fashion for slashing garments to the actions of Swiss soldiers in the aftermath of the Battle of Grandson in 1476. Supposedly the Swiss plundered the rich fabrics of the Burgundian nobles and used the scraps to patch their tattered clothes. In reality, images appear of sleeves with a single slashed opening as early as mid-15th century, although the German fashion for “many small all-over slits” may have begun here. Whatever its origin, the fad for multiple slashings spread to German Landsknechts and thence to France, Italy, and England, where it was to remain a potent current in fashionable attire into the mid-17th century.”

Fig. 1 - Francesco del Cossa (Italian, 1436-1478). Aprile, ca. 1470. Fresco. Ferrara: Palazzo Schifanoia. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Portrait of a Woman

Fig. 2 - Piero del Pollaiuolo (Piero di Jacopo Benci) (Italian, 1441-1496). Portrait of a Woman, ca. 1480. Tempura on wood; 48.9 x 35.2 cm (19 1/4 x 13 7/8 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 50.135.3. Bequest of Edward S. Harkness, 1940. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Triptiek van Jan de Witte (detail)

Fig. 3 - Meester Van (Belgian). Triptiek van Jan de Witte (detail), 1473. Oil on panel; (29.33 x 15.16 in). Brussels: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Source: Pinterest


Wikipedia writes of late 15th-century menswear:

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

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.”

Portrait of a Young Man

Fig. 1 - Cosmè Tura (Italian, 1433–1495). Portrait of a Young Man, 1470s. Tempera on wood; 28.3 x 19.7 cm (11 1/8 x 7 3/4 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 14.40.649. Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913. Source: The Met

The Chess Players

Fig. 2 - Liberale da Verona (Italian, 1445–1527). The Chess Players, ca. 1475. Tempera on wood; 34.9 x 41.3 cm (13 3/4 x 16 1/4 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 43.98.8. Maitland F. Griggs Collection, Bequest of Maitland F. Griggs, 1943. Source: The Met

Portrait of a Young Man

Fig. 3 - Hans Memling (Netherlandish, 1465-1494). Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1472–75. Oil on oak panel; 40 x 29 cm (15 3/4 x 11 3/8 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975.1.112. Robert Lehman Collection, 1975. Source: The Met


Detail of "The Meeting"

Fig. 1 - Andrea Mantegna (Italian, 1431-1506). Detail of "The Meeting", 1474. Fresco, walnut oil on plaster. Mantua: Palazzo Ducale. Source: Wikipedia

Detail of Portinari Altarpiece

Fig. 2 - Hugo van der Goes (Belgian, 1440-1482). Detail of Portinari Altarpiece, 1478. Oil on wood; 141.00 x 253.00 cm. Florence: Galleria degli Uffizi. Source: Wikipedia


Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1470-1479

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

  • 1473 – First edition of The Canon of Medicine
  • 1474 – End of the Anglo-Hanseatic War
  • 1476 – The new fashion is for slashing garments to reveal the lining or undergarments. Perhaps from the actions of Swiss soldiers following Battle of Grandson in 1476, when they patched tattered clothes with fabrics plundered from dead nobles.
  • 1478 – Lorenzo de’ Medici becomes ruler of Florence
  • 1478 – The Spanish Inquisition begins.
  • 1479 – Ferdinand II ascends the throne of Aragon
  • 1470s – Early versions of the farthingale appear in Spain as the verdugada or verdugado, a bell-shaped skirt stiffened with hoops of cane, or later, willow. Originally hoops are worn on the outer surface of the dress, later they go underneath the overskirt.

Primary/Period Sources

Resources for Fashion History Research

To discover primary/period sources, explore the categories below.
Have a primary source to suggest?  Or a newly digitized periodical/book to announce?  Contact us!

Digitized Primary/Period Sources

“DMMapp - Digitized Medieval Manuscripts App,” n.d. https://digitizedmedievalmanuscripts.org/app/.
“Medieval Manuscripts on the Web (Digitized Manuscripts),” n.d. http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/sechard/512digms.htm.

Secondary Sources

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


Bellatory. “Fashion History of the High and Late Middle Ages - Medieval Clothing,” n.d. https://bellatory.com/fashion-industry/FashionHistoryoftheHIghandLateMiddleAgesClothingo-the11th-15thCentury.
Breiding, Dirk H. “Fashion in European Armor.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, n.d. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/afas/hd_afas.htm.
Victoria and Albert Museum. “Fashion up to the 17th Century Reading List,” January 13, 2011. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/f/reading-list-fashion-up-to-the-17th-century/.
“Glossary of some medieval clothing terms,” n.d. http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/glossary.html.
Watt, Melinda. “Renaissance Velvet Textiles.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, n.d. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/velv/hd_velv.htm.
Breiding, Dirk H. “The Decoration of European Armor.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, n.d. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/deca/hd_deca.htm.

Birbari, Elizabeth. Dress in Italian Painting, 1460-1500. London: J. Murray, 1975. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/757268608.
Boucher, François. 20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment. Expanded ed. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1987. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/979316852.
Brown, Susan, ed. Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style. New York: DK Publishing, 2012. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/840417029.
Byrde, Penelope. The Male Image: Men’s Fashion in Britain, 1300-1970. London: B. T. Batsford, 1979. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/891905981.
Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland. Textiles and Clothing: C.1150-c.1450. Medieval Finds from Excavations in London 4. London: HMSO, 1992. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/869768478.
Cunnington, Phillis. Costume of Household Servants, from the Middle Ages to 1900. London: A and C Black, 1974. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1369922.
Egan, Geoff, and Frances Pritchard. Dress Accessories, c. 1150 - c. 1450. New ed. 3. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 2002.
Hill, Daniel Delis. History of World Costume and Fashion. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/768100950.
Houston, Mary G. Medieval Costume in England and France: The 13th, 14th, and 15th Centuries. New York: Dover Publications, 1996.
Monnas, Lisa. Merchants, Princes and Painters: Silk Fabrics in Italian and Northern Paintings, 1300-1550. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/644408684.
Richardson, Catherine. Clothing Culture, 1350-1650. New York: Routledge, 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/976442537.
Scott, Margaret. Visual History of Costume: The Fourteenth & Fifteenth Centuries. 1. London: Batsford, 1986. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/932531120.
Tortora, Phyllis G., and Sara B. Marcketti. Survey of Historic Costume. Sixth edition. New York: Fairchild Books, 2015. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/972500782.
Van Buren, Anne, and Roger S. Wieck. Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands, 1325-1515. New York: The Morgan Library & Museum, 2011. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/921010074.
Vincent, Susan J., and Elizabeth Currie, eds. A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion: The Renaissance (1450-1650). London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/967107605.
Pinterest. “1400-1450 Fashion in Paintings,” 1400s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1400-1450-fashion-in-paintings/.
Pinterest. “1400-1500 Extant Clothing,” 1400s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1400-1500-extant-clothing/.
Pinterest. “1400-1500 Fabrics & Textiles,” 1400s. https://www.pinterest.com/pocketmuseum/1400-1500-fabrics-textiles/.