Friday, June 8, 2018

Friday Video: Getting Dressed in the 14th Century

Friday, June 8, 2018

Susan reporting,

I've shared the wonderful costume videos by Crow's Eye Productions before ( Dressing an 18thc Lady, Dressing an 18thc Lady: The Busk, and Dressing an 18thc Lady: Pockets.)  Here's their latest, featuring two 14thc woman - a lady, and a servant - dressing for the day. I was struck by how fluid and unstructured these clothes were, and surprisingly modern, too, in their limited color palette.

These videos are the work of Pauline Loven, costume historian, costumer, and heritage film producer, and director Nick Loven. They've recently set up a Patreon page if you'd like to support future videos in the series.

If you receive this post via email, you may be seeing an empty space or a black box where the video should be. Click here to view the video.


KarenAnne said...

No closed captioning, so I'll have to ask, does the different style of headgear indicate lady/servant status? I wonder why their hair was covered at all? When one of them was wrapping themselves up, I thought, that's like a hijab... Free associating, I got to wondering why in more recent times women were supposed to wear hats in church but men weren't.

Molly Sue said...

In the Bible there is a verse about women should not have their hair uncovered in church. That is why some religious sects have their hair covered. Only loose women would wear it down.

Suzanne said...

Thanks so much...this was fascinating.

Pauline Loven said...

There does appear to be some class distinction in the veiling in the Luttrell Psater, the ‘hijab’ style appears frequently in lower classes. Artiscratic women are veiled, but the veiling is diaphanous, decorative and more symbolic in nature. Christianity and Islam originate in the same part of the world and both religions absorbed the cultural traditions from the region. There is a remanant of the head covering tradition today in the West in the wearing of hats at weddings and perhaps the veiling of the bride too.
Pauline Loven (Crow’s Eye Productions).

Betsy said...

Just thank you , thank you, thank you. I am 80 years old, pretty handicapped by
arthritis and COPD and love how your posts expand my world. I giggle and laugh and
get all excited seeing an Old Bailey door, etc.

Lucy said...

I was interested to see that there wasn't any sort of corseting or strapping up. I suppose if you worked very hard, you'd probably be on the thinner side, and it wouldn't be a problem, but I couldn't help thinking that corsets weren't a totally bad invention for ladies who needed "support."

KarenAnne said...

Lucy, when the first young woman was on the second layer of dress, I was thinking, that's really comfortable! and yet covering. I was wondering if I could get away with that now :-) Then more layers appeared :-)

Anonymous said...

From Mary M.--
14th century costume varied some. Corsets were not worn, but often a very tight "cotehardie" (long fitted gown) was worn that provided support. When fitted correctly, the cotehardie is more comfortable and supportive than a corset. (There are countless websites devoted to the cotehardie and how to fit it.) The color palette was actually quite diverse. (These reenactors seem to be choosing a rather bland one - not sure why.) They would've won reds, blues, purples, greens, pinks, etc. Browns, greens, and yellows are easy to come by because they're common colors found in every day vegetal dye sources. Colors like blues and purples would've been a little harder to come by and likely only won by upper classes. Furs and metals (as decorative items and in embroidery) would've been common with the upper classes. Sumptuary laws defined what you could wear depending on your class. Here is an example of some from the 14th century (England, I believe):
Lords with lands worth £1 000 annually and their families: no restrictions
- Knights with land worth 400 marks. ie £266 13s 4d annually and their families: may dress at their will, except they may wear no weasel fur, ermine or clothing of precious stones other than the jewels in women's hair.
- Knights with lands worth 200 marks. ie. £133 6s 8d annually and their families: fabric worth no more than 6 marks ie £4 for the whole cloth: no cloth of gold, nor a cloak, mantle or gown lined with pure miniver, sleeves of ermine or any material embroidered with precious stones; women may not wear ermine or weasel-fur, or jewels except those worn in their hair.
- Esquires with land worth £200 per year, and merchants with goods to the value of £1 000 and their families: fabric worth no more than 5 marks. ie £3 6s 8d for the whole cloth; they may wear cloth of silk and silver, or anything decorated with silver; women may wear miniver but not ermine or weasel-fur, or jewels except those worn in the hair.
- Esquires, gentlemen with £100 per year, and merchants with goods to the value of £500 and their families: fabric worth no more than 4 1/2 marks, £3, for the whole cloth; no cloth of gold, silk, or silver, no embroidery, no precious stones or fur.
- Yeoman and their families: fabric worth no more than 40s, ie £2 for the whole cloth, no jewels, no gold, silver, embroidery, enamelware or silk; no fur except lamb, rabbit, cat or fox; women not to wear a silk veil.
- Servants and their families: fabric worth not more than 2 marks for the whole cloth; no gold, silver, embroidery, enamel or silk; women not to wear a veil worth more than 12d.
- Carters, ploughmen, drivers of ploughs, oxherds, cowherds, swineherds, dairymaids and everyone else working on the land who does not have 40 shillings of goods: no cloth except blanket and russet at 12d per ell, belts of linen (rope).

Anonymous said...

From Mary M.--
As a quick follow-up, if anyone is interested in exploring the 14th century a little further, there are countless websites out there devoted to reenacting and history. One of my favorites is This group of reenactors is fabulous and, I believe, highly accurate in their reenactment efforts. Best of all, their photographs and costumes are just gorgeous. The neulakko website has an entry on a supportive kirtle (cotehardie-style underdress). Another excellent source for a traditional 14th century supportive kirtle/cotehardie is here

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