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Old 01-11-2017, 04:26 PM   #1
OmnislashXX
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Medieval Clothing Descriptions

So anyway, I'm writing a yarn that is set in a medieval/fantasy type environment. I guess the question I really want to ask though is for any of the ladies on here. I know medieval style dresses used corsets and such, though I would really like to know about the clothing women would wear around their legs under the dresses. Yoiu know, the white material that would usually make the dress fill out.

Also, what other types of cloth do people usually wear? For instance the men wear cloth tunics and hide pants, though I could use some descriptions or examples of other materials.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-11-2017, 04:39 PM   #2
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I could ask my son, he's a huge history buff so he would probably know.
But he also has aspergers so he is probably too accurate and will want to know exactly what time period and what country and all those specifics.
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Old 01-11-2017, 04:44 PM   #3
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Look here:

https://historyofeuropeanfashion.wor...val-1100-1450/

Corsets? No!! Clothes were loose fitting. Corsets etc are much later.

Or here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_medieval_clothing

Many re-enactment costumes (and movies) get it badly wrong.

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Old 01-11-2017, 04:49 PM   #4
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Denny

Corsets only at modern Medieval Faires so modern exhibitionists can expose their popovers.
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Old 01-12-2017, 12:44 AM   #5
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Depends which part of the Middle Ages you are talking about - it was a longish period of time, from as early as 1000 to 1400s CE. No corsets (until perhaps the very end), though front lace-up dresses were very common. Ogg gave you a great start. There are tons of books out there on clothing through various ages, and a ton of paintings you could reference. Underneath women wore various types of petticoats - a skirt or a full length dress made out of thinner material than the outer garment - the colors often contrasted so the slip could be decorative as well when it showed underneath the overdress, either at the laces, sleeves, or hem.
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Many re-enactment costumes (and movies) get it badly wrong.
All those trollops going around with their hair uncovered!
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:00 AM   #7
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Corsets became a thing after the medieval period, in renaissance. Underskirts as well.
But if you are writing a fantasy setting, you can afford to cut some corners. For example you can describe that there's a far southern empire in your world that produces silk and satin, all sorts of colors too. Their culture is very different from the culture of your contry, and they are mad about fashion. So they make all sorts of fine dresses, corsets and lingerie that rich people of your country buy for their wives.

If you talk realistic western-european medieval, then even queens wore very simple clothes back then. They would wear long finely fit dresses, often with furs if we talk about colder countries. Their main difference was that clothes were new and clean.
It wasn't until much later on that rich women became obsessed with a lot of different clothes. In medieval it was common for a noble lady to own 2-3-5 outfits, not more, while commoners often owned only one which was passed down from their parents/sisters.
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
All those trollops going around with their hair uncovered!
I wrote a Medieval story some years ago that was set around the battle of Hastings (1066) and did some research into what women wore at the time. That will vary with class, but my recollection is that the basic dress for women was a tunic and a wimple (hair covering). The traditional dress of Catholic nuns started in Medieval times and didn't change much. If you need to describe Medieval dress then describe a novice, but with colors other than black.

I think the many layers of under dresses came along mostly in the Renaissance and even then that was probably class-dependent. There was no kind of underwear for women of any class that closed at the crotch.

Depending on where and when your story is placed, men may have worn tunics and maybe a breach cloth rather than trousers.
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Old 01-12-2017, 03:34 AM   #9
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I suppose, since I have described a corset already, that I will cut corners. I guess I found them appealing because of all the strings the man would have to try and untie... In anycase it's more a fantasy world anyway ( with elves and a dragon no less). Those are great articles though Ogbashan.
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Old 01-12-2017, 03:57 AM   #10
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Usually a corset has only 1 or 2 bows - it's like a shoelace. You don't take it all out, just loosen it enough to slip out of.
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Old 01-12-2017, 09:36 AM   #11
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These links might help:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_medieval_clothing

http://www.medieval-life-and-times.i...eval-clothing/

http://rosaliegilbert.com/clothesandaccessories.html

http://www.medieval-market.com/male.php
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:17 PM   #12
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Didn't everyone wear chainmail?
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeb_Carter View Post
Didn't everyone wear chainmail?
That's too heavy for daily wear and usually unnecessary except on a battlefield. Even armoured knights only donned their armour and/or chain mail just before the battle.
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oggbashan View Post
That's too heavy for daily wear and usually unnecessary except on a battlefield. Even armoured knights only donned their armour and/or chain mail just before the battle.
Not to mention the minor detail of cost: even boiled leather armor was expensive, Chain or plate was the cost equivalent of having a Lamborgini or Mazarati.
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:50 PM   #15
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Not to mention the minor detail of cost: even boiled leather armor was expensive, Chain or plate was the cost equivalent of having a Lamborgini or Mazarati.
When the medieval English were fighting the Scots, the Scots complained that every English Knight was wearing the value of several Scottish estates, and WTF did they want any of poor Scotland?
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Old 01-12-2017, 03:25 PM   #16
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Ah yeah, well there will also be people wearing armor, though I really wanted to describe some fancy medieval/fantasy type dresses the royal family is supposed to wear. There are some differences when it comes to actual medieval wear and fantasy type wear though.
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Old 01-12-2017, 08:35 PM   #17
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Additionally chain mail had to be kept oiled because it was very prone to rust, and the oil was rather smelly.
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Old 01-13-2017, 04:31 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeb_Carter View Post
Didn't everyone wear chainmail?
Over the naked body, yes.

By the way, sarcasm aside, this brings a fine point. Remember, if any of your characters wears any metal armor, be it chainmail or plate, he will have layers fo clothes under it.

For chainmail it will be at the very least:
1) Plain linen or cotton shirt
2) Leather vest
3) And only then you put a chainmail on.

Otherwise you will literally bleed to death from scratches after half an hour of battle.

Also, remember lord of the rings, how they put their chainmails on and embarked on a long journey?
Highly unlikely. They would carry them in their packs while they travel the safe regions, and put it on only when they feel they may be attacked.
(magical dwarf chainmail can be ignored, because Hey! Magic!)
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Old 01-13-2017, 08:09 AM   #19
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Don't forget that in the early part of the medieval period, dyes to produce many colours were simply not available.

You also need to bear in mind that many countries had Sumptuary Laws which defined the types of clothes, materials, colours and trimmings that could be worn by people in different classes of society.
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Old 01-13-2017, 08:29 AM   #20
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Don't forget that in the early part of the medieval period, dyes to produce many colours were simply not available.

You also need to bear in mind that many countries had Sumptuary Laws which defined the types of clothes, materials, colours and trimmings that could be worn by people in different classes of society.
The Sumptuary Laws were generally ineffective except for the working classes who couldn't afford the expensive clothing restricted by the laws.

To support the English wool trade even shrouds had to be made of wool, not imported cloth.
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Old 01-13-2017, 06:41 PM   #21
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The Sumptuary Laws were generally ineffective except for the working classes who couldn't afford the expensive clothing restricted by the laws.

To support the English wool trade even shrouds had to be made of wool, not imported cloth.
You'd think that over so many centuries they'd have bred sheep which produce less nasty wool. But no, even Merino, supposedly the best wool, is still obviously inferior to almost every other fabric material.
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Old 01-13-2017, 08:25 PM   #22
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Corsets were first referred to in literature in 1577. From then until the latish 19th century they were too expensive for 99% of women. Bras for mass usage weren't invented until about 1900, and the A B C D cup sizes were invented by a Mr Camp (inappropriate name perhaps! ) in 1932. That would have challenged the descriptive capacities of 80% of Lit's authors until after that date.

A fair number of medaevil illustrations show women's dresses being fastened with a criss cross of material or leather down the back of the garment and fastened in the small of the back with a toggle. Most dresses would have been made of wool, occasionally linen, as cotton wasn't available, and the wool was heavy and hot. However, some cooling/ventilation was achieved by the complete absence of panties, knickers, bloomers etc - again largely 19th century inventions.

The detoggling and unlacing of a medaevil woman could perhaps be made quite interesting in description.
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Old 01-14-2017, 11:54 PM   #23
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Most peoples throughout history have worn rags and schmatzas, skins and leaves, woven or pieced-together crap, because most peoples throughout history have lacked resources for much else. Peoples herding or hunting hairy beasts might weave hair into clothing or just dry their hairy hides and patch them into garments. Don't have beasts? Use leaves. Or scum.
"Oh the Cape Cod girls don't wear no clothes
Heave away, haul away
They smear their bodies with codfish roes
Bound away for Australia"
--trad. sea chantey
The aristos and ricos had resources for more -- for fine weaves of local and imported fibres, for dyes and gems and colorful feathers, for slaves to put everything together for them, for bribes to buy-off the Sumptuary nazis. Filthy rich is good, hey?
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Old 01-17-2017, 06:39 PM   #24
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It depends on which period you are referring to, of course. If there are corsets, that is Tudor period.

There is scope here for exploring ladies' fashions, for example Queen Elizabeth I appeared to the Spanish Ambassador with her breasts exposed.
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/elizabethI.htm

Also several French ladies (Queen Isabella IIRC) commonly wore low-cut dresses that exposed the nipples, sometimes with a red make-up applied.
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Old 01-18-2017, 06:39 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypoxia View Post
Most peoples throughout history have worn rags and schmatzas, skins and leaves, woven or pieced-together crap, because most peoples throughout history have lacked resources for much else. Peoples herding or hunting hairy beasts might weave hair into clothing or just dry their hairy hides and patch them into garments. Don't have beasts? Use leaves. Or scum.
"Oh the Cape Cod girls don't wear no clothes
Heave away, haul away
They smear their bodies with codfish roes
Bound away for Australia"
--trad. sea chantey
The aristos and ricos had resources for more -- for fine weaves of local and imported fibres, for dyes and gems and colorful feathers, for slaves to put everything together for them, for bribes to buy-off the Sumptuary nazis. Filthy rich is good, hey?
In England until the late 19th Century fitted women's clothing was hand made for each woman. Poor women wore secondhand clothing or crudely stitched home made items. The sewing machine was a very expensive consumer item so poor women sewed by hand.

In the late 19th Century part made dresses could be bought. The difficult bodices would be stitched to various sizes but the skirts would have to be completed by the customer.

In the 1890s and beyond ready-made clothing was available from large stores and by mail order. Poor women began to dress better.

But until then a poor woman could be identified by the poor fit of her clothes.
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