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Late 14 century costume advice

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:00 pm
by Savernake
Hi Everyone,

Please could I have some advice on putting together two costumes for the late fourteenth century. I was thinking of basing it on man and his wife in the service/household of a regional magnate (e.g. Lord Berkeley) in the reign of Richard II. We have a copy of Sarah Thursfield's book, and as a starting point were thinking of braies, separate hose, a shirt and doublet for the man, and a smock, hose, and a kirtle for the woman.

Would this be appropriate clothing for this time/status of person?


Re: Late 14 century costume advice

Posted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:39 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Hi Chris

I think you will need to look at the 'Statutes of the Realm' (Sumptuary Laws), particularly the sumptuary law of 1336, 1337 and 1363 which King Edward III of England brought in to try and control was different classes of people wore and eat during his reign.

It was noted by chroniclers of the time that as the 14th century wore on, and merchants and artisans became more prosperous, that people became more daring and ignored the sumptuary laws to a large degree, especially during the later reign of King Richard II.

King Richard II was noted as just about the biggest fashion 'fob' going and he did little to control what his people wore, furs for example were imported in very large quantities and highly available.

I would say starting from the bottom upwards for you, a nice set of long pointy toed 'Cracows' or Poulaines;

Separate hose, each one a different colour (perhaps each shoe could match the hose colour - bi-parti);

garters to be worn under the knee to provide a nice shapely leg outline;

short braises;

King Louis shirt;

Short, padded and tightly fitted - doublet, short enough so that the lower region of the buttocks is seen in outline (how outrageously indecent);

a waist girdle belt and ornate kidney purse;

Baselard or Ballock dagger suspended also from the belt;

A retinue badge of the Berkeley family as you are 'retained' in his service;

a Chaperon hat (turbin), or perhaps a nice hood with a long liripipe tail to it

I cannot really say for the woman, perhaps somebody else can help you with that aspect.

I believe that the lower sumptuary regulations govern what servants in particular could and could not wear during King Richard II's reign in the late 14th century:

Cloth worth no more than 2 marks for a whole cloth.

No jewels, gold, silver, embroidery, enamelware poor silk; no fur except lamb, rabbit, cat or fox. Women not to wear a veil worth more than 12d.

I hope that helps you


Re: Late 14 century costume advice

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:29 pm
by Savernake
Hi Stuart,

Thank you for the information. I'd forgotten about the sumptuary laws, It will be a good way to check on colours and types of cloth.

A lot of what you described is a bit more fancy than I'd had in mind; a bit beyond the budget of my imaginary Berkeley servant, and me.


Re: Late 14 century costume advice

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:13 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Hi Chris

Glad to help, although I am sure there are better informed souls than me to advise you. Fair comment on the budget for your costume. What you could be then is a 'domestic' servant to Lord Berkeley.

It really depends of what level of servant you wish to portray, as how you dress will have to reflect your position of privilege within the lord's household. The higher servants to a King or Lord followed a strictly hierarchical code, those positions such as Steward; Chamberlain; Marshal and Master of the Wardrobe would certainly have dressed to a standard I have described in Richard II's time, even pages, grooms and squires could and would be the sons of other Lords and dressed accordingly.

There were numerous other servants slightly lower down the pecking order though, the gatekeeper or Porter of the Lord's castle; and those who procured, stored and prepared the lord's food, his scullery servants, masons; carpenters; his musicians, his armourer, smith etc. Their attire I imagine would be more work-a-day.

Re: Late 14 century costume advice

Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:10 am
by Ian
I've a few questions about this period myself.

I've already created linen shirt, braise and split hosen, the latter I may have to redo depending on your advice. I've found that these items are already very warm and the thought of putting woollen outer garments or wooden hosen on seems ridiculous. Were outer garments always made from wool in this period or was linen acceptable? The book i have suggests wool but I think I'll melt!

The second is that the book recommends a doublet and then cotehardie over your body linens. Again this seems very warm. Would it be accurate to skip the doublet and just were the cotehardie?


Re: Late 14 century costume advice

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:30 am
by Alice the Huswyf
Stuart is right - but as he says, he gives a counsel of perfection.

In any period start with basic lower status. Even if that is lower than you initially intend.

Some can invest lots of money in the knowledge and skills of one of the many, very good to costumiers or producers - and get there straight away. Which is great, but you do miss out on many learning and change of direction benefits along the way. But equally some make lovely garments - which won't be as appropriate to your group's standards as that maker thinks. I would always refer to your group kit standard (or authenticity bod) and ask for their advice: even the best adn most knowledgable makers/traders can't know every group standard or need - and I'm afraid some lesser spirits only want to make a sale - viz a C17th baldrick one very intelligent, past new member was told was absolutely C15th appropriate. £150 down the drain and no comeback on the trader. It happens.

Alternately you can invest time ask for advice and weigh various information to suit you situation - which you are.

Some of the best starting kit I have seen/helped beginners put together has been on a strict budget, which means thought, learning to sew and clever prioritisation coupled with second hand purchasing . This gives you time to learn, to consider and understand - which saves expensive mistakes. If your basics are of good quality and well researched, then as you climb status, you are adding items to your existing wardrobe - rather than replacing it wholesale. Of course once you have organically acquired your kit, it will look like everyday clothing. Plus as you no longer need well-considered kit, it retains second hand resale value which will fund your next step up.

A slow, considered start is actually a back handed benefit. The knowledge you'll coincedentally gain along the way about standards, economics, station and method are all pluses. Your good wife needs headcoverings; not only will they be necessary to be correct, but they make an otherwise basic outfit more interesting. A simple veil can be worn in different ways and an open hood is surprising easy to wear and warm. It is also a cheaper way to change status - even up to middling status, all the best cloth goes on a woman's head as a smaller amount of outlay is on eyeline for immediate notice.