ROSALIE'S MEDIEVAL WOMAN WEBSITE THE VERY SECRET SEX LIVES OF MEDIEVAL WOMENTHE GILBERT COLLECTION
THE MEDIEVAL WOMAN BLOGMEDIEVAL SEWING TUTORIALSTHE NOTICEBOARDEMAIL ME

CLOTHES &
ACCESSORIES

ITEMS OF CLOTHING

COTES & TUNICS

KIRTLES

SURCOTES

HOUPPELANDES

15th CENTURY GOWNS

MATERNITY WEAR

CLOAKS & MANTLES

CORSETS

UNDERWEAR

SLEEPWEAR

Items of Medieval Women's Clothing

Many items of medieval clothing are known by more than name which makes it confusing for the beginner sewer. The basic medieval dress may be known at different periods of time or different regions as different things. Thus, a tunic, kirtle, kyrtle, cote or gown may be essentially the same garment; or at other time periods, a completely different one.

The following pages look at the different pieces of clothing and dress accessories which make up a medieval woman's outfit.

COTES, GOWNES & TUNICS
What the early medieval woman wore

KIRTLES
A look at the basic 14th century medieval dress

SURCOTES
The outer layers of clothing

HOUPPELANDES
The late medieval outer gown

15th CENTURY GOWNS
The Burgundian gown and late medieval gowns

MATERNITY WEAR
For the medieval mother-to-be

CLOAKS & MANTLES
The medieval cloak and mantle

CORSETS
What they were and what they weren't

UNDERWEAR
A lady's underclothes reveal'd
- CHEMISES - The chemise, shift or smock
- BREAST COVERINGS - Bras, support and structure
- UNDERPANTS - What did they wear 'down there?'
- HOSE & GARTERS - Leg coverings and support

SLEEPWEAR
What to wear to bed

HEADWEAR
What to wear on your head.

Some information from archaeological sewing finds on existing garments from both before and after this time period have been included in this website. The number of entire garments from within the 14th century is extremely limited to fragments and state robes or ecclesiastic garments which are not an accurate portrayal of general clothing, although excellent as a examples of medieval workmanship.


An Upwardly Mobile Example
Although she is Italian and my main field of interest is English, I've chosen Margherita Datini, the wife of a wealthy merchant and a member of the upper classes, to serve as our model medieval woman. She is pictured at right.

She is not nobility, so her wardrobe is less than those stationed above her, but she is a city dweller and quite well-off, so items she owns might reasonably be owned by other women who share her social situation.

She is fashionable, but also mindful of being seen in society as a "good" woman, so as not to tarnish her husband's reputation or business.

Her wardrobe is listed concisely in 1339. It included 2 gowns, 11 surcotes of differing cut and fullness, and a rich overgown of heavy silk which her husband Francesco Datini had imported from Romania. She had six cold weather mantles, also full-cut.

This gives us an idea of the quantity of clothing a well-off townswoman might reasonably expect to own.

What we don't see listed is her inventory of dress accessories- fans, belts, gloves, veils and underthings. We do have some references to some items, but not all.

Of interest also, it that Margherite owns two gowns but many surcotes, which would have allowed her to change her look without changing her basic dress underneath.

 

Copyright © Rosalie Gilbert
All text & photographs within this site are the property of Rosalie Gilbert unless stated.
Art & artifact images remain the property of the owner.
Images and text may not be copied and used without permission.