Parti-color is the combination of different colors within the same garment along the vertical axis.
The Encyclopedia of World Costume (1986) defines parti-colouring as:
“a method of decoration where one half or one quarter of a garment was made in one colour and pattern and the other or others in a different one. A fashion of the Middle Ages in Europe, especially of the 14th and 15th centuries. Garments worn by either sex could be parti-coloured, from ladies’ gowns to men’s tunics, hoods and cloaks, but it was masculine hose which were most often treated in this way. The hose was divided vertically down centre back and front and often quartered at the knee also and this lent accent and distinction to a well-turned leg.” (Yarwood 85)
Similarly, The Complete Costume Dictionary (2011) defines parti-colouring as:
“A fashion prevalent in Medieval Europe from the late twelfth century until the end of the fifteenth century wherein garments were made in one colour and design on one half or quarter and a different colour or pattern on the other sections. Masculine hose was most often parti-coloured, divided vertically down the centre of the leg, front and back and, often, quartered at the knee also.” (Lewandowski 98)
As The Dictionary of Costume (1969) explains, particolored garments became popular because of the rise of heraldy:
“The whole costume was divided into variegated colors and the family coat-of-arms, emblazoned upon the dress, stamped in gold and silver leaf and colored enamels. Such costumes were passed down the family and valued as historic dress. The jester in his parti-colored costume is a survival of the period.” (Wilcox 133)
When families intermarried they would conjoin their colors and coats of arms leading to a sort of vertical color blocking on garments, which soon became a wider fashion trend.
- Colm. “Split down the Middle: Parti-Coloured Clothes in 14th Century Ireland | Irish Archaeology.” Accessed January 6, 2018. http://irisharchaeology.ie/2015/03/split-down-the-middle-parti-coloured-clothes-in-14th-century-ireland/.
- Lewandowski, Elizabeth J. The Complete Costume Dictionary. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/788995672.
- Wilcox, R. Turner. The Dictionary of Costume. New York: Macmillan, 1987. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/925659137.
- Yarwood, Doreen. Costume of the Western World: Pictorial Guide and Glossary. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/13294819.
- ———. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Bonanza Books, 1986. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/841465233.