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Tippets & Lappets
The arm accessories of the late 14th century

From approximately 1340 until 1390, an arm ornament known as the tippett or tappit appeared.

Household accounts to date have not shown any mention of the accessory being recorded in wills and inventories, although it is written recorded that they were stored between boards to keep them perfectly flat or 'flattened' to remain crease-free.

Tippets are streamer-like strips of fabric which appear to be attached to a band circling the upper arm just above the elbow. Some people believe that these were sewn to the actual sleeve whilst some believe that the tippet was an individual item of clothing which was detachable and tied, laced, or possibly buttoned or was sewn closed and slipped on up the arm. There are records of the extended sleeve being referred to as typites and tipets although this was when the extended sleeve of the kirtle first became popular and the same extended streamers on hoods were also named likewise.

Seen above at left is the memorial brass of Lady Maude De Foxle, dated 1387 and at right is the tomb effigy of Joan De La Tour dated 1377-1386. Both clearly show the band around the upper arm above the elbow and the tippet at the side or towards the front of the arm.

Tippets which appear fur-lined and part of the outer gown are shown in few artworks but tippets which appear to be a separate item can be seen in detail on many memorial brasses of the late 14th century.

The detail at left is taken from the 1412-1416 illuminated manuscript of the Heures du duk du Berry. The April scene shows a woman in a blue kyrtle and dark overgown with short sleeves and tippets. It is uncertain whether the tippets are of the same fabric or fur lining the gown or a different fabric altogether. It is clear that the tippets are white both front and back, but it is also unclear whether they are attached to the overgown or not.

Robin Netherton's research leads her to conclude that they were not linen or silk as generally supposed, but fur. It makes a deal of sense to suppose that the long streamers of some gowns may have been slashed and sewn at the back creating a tippet-like streamer dangling from the elbow. Since many gowns were fur-lined, it also follows that the resulting streamer would be fur.

The image at left is a detail from a fresco painted in 1350 by di Cione called The Last Judgement. It shows long streamers which appear to be lined with fur which matches the fur at the bottom of her gown. It appears that these streamers are not a separate item but a part of the gown. It also lacks the broad armband which is typical of the tippet proper.

The image at right is a detail from an armorial roll and shows the wife of de Revel is a gown with streamers which appear ermine lined hanging from her upper arms. The wide white arm band is not shown here and it is interesting to not the angle of the streamers dangling, which appear to come from the elbow although the gown sleeves are much higher on the arm. Whether this is an artistic anomaly or whether the streamers come from the elbow is not clearly shown.

My current thoughts are that the idea for the tippet as an accessory would have started out as the slashed and sewn fur sleeve and evolved into a separate item which would have been easier to clean and bleach. Since the tippet is almost always shown to be white, constant laundering must be considered. Only rarely are tippets shown as red or blue, and that is only from Italian manuscripts.

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