“long gowns, 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, yet the houppelande was determined to be the most “stylish” choice for women between 1480 and 1489. It was essentially a full robe with a high collar and wide sleeves.
Throughout the 1480s, the dress of northern Europe developed a low V-neck that showed a glimpse of the square-necked kirtle. The neckline could be filled in with a sheer linen partlet. Wide turn-backs like revers displayed a contrasting lining, frequently of fur or black velvet, and the sleeves might be cuffed to match. Sleeves were very long, covering half of the hand, and often highly decorated with embroidery. Fine sleeves were often transferred from one dress to another.
Toward the end of the [15th-century], sleeves were made in sections or panels and slashed, allowing the full chemise sleeves below to be pulled through in puffs along the arm, at the shoulder, and at the elbow. This was the beginning of the fashion for puffed and slashed sleeves that would last for two centuries.
The partlet, a separate item to fill in a low neckline, appeared in this period, usually of sheer fabric (linen or possibly silk) with an open V-neckline. Some partlets have a collar and a back similar to the upper part of a shirt. Burgundian partlets are usually depicted worn under the dress (but over the kirtle); in Italy the partlet seems to have been worn over the gown and could be pointed or cut straight across at the lower front.”
Of hairstyles and headdresses, Wikipedia writes:
“Gradually the fullness at the sides of head was pulled up to the temples and became pointed, like horns (à corné). By mid-15th century, the hair was pulled back from the forehead, and the crespine, now usually called a caul, sat on the back of the head. Very fashionable women shaved their foreheads and eyebrows. Any of these styles could be topped by a padded roll, sometimes arranged in a heart-shape, or a veil, or both. Veilswere supported by wire frames that exaggerated the shape and were variously draped from the back of the headdress or covered the forehead.
Women also wore the chaperon, a draped hat based on the hood and liripipe, and a variety of related draped and wrapped turbans.
The most extravagant headdress of Burgundian fashion is the hennin, a cone or truncated-cone shaped cap with a wire frame covered in fabric and topped by a floating veil. Later hennins feature a turned-back brim, or are worn over a hood with a turned-back brim. [In the 1480s], women’s head-dresses became smaller, more convenient, and less picturesque. The gable hood, a stiff and elaborate head-dress, emerged around 1480 as well.
Women of the merchant classes in Northern Europe wore modified versions of courtly hairstyles, with coifs or caps, veils, and wimples of crisp linen (often with visible creases from ironing and folding). A brief fashion added rows of gathered frills to the coif or veil; this style is sometimes known by the German name kruseler.
The general European convention of completely covering married women’s hair was not accepted in warmer Italy. Italian women wore their hair very long, wound with ribbons or braided, and twisted up into knots of various shapes with the ends hanging free. The hair was then covered with sheer veils or small caps. Toward the 1480s women wore chin-length sections of hair in loose waves or ripples over the ears. Blond hair was considered desirable (by Botticelli for one), and visitors to Venice reported that ladies sat out in the sun on their terraces with their hair spread out around large circular disks worn like hats, attempting to bleach it in the sun. Chemical methods were also used.”
“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 onward, 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 1480s, 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”
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.
The middle of the 15th century in Burgundy saw what seems to have been the earliest occurrence of the male fashion for dressing all in black.
In Venice, the patrician class, after the age of joining the Great Council, wore their long red robes as a uniform virtually unchanged throughout the 15th century. In contrast, the young men and the famous courtesans of the city dressed very extravagantly.
In the last decades of the 15th century, a new style of overgown appeared; this was of various lengths, generally worn unbelted, and featured wide turned back revers and collar.
Short or long cloaks or mantles were worn overall for ceremonial occasions and in bad weather; these typically fastened on one shoulder.
By the end of the 15th century, shoulder-length hair became fashionable, a trend that would continue into the early 16th century.”
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!