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Kirtle Necklines

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:25 pm
by sara1459

I have been looking for some authentic sources on neck lines.

How low should the underkirtle be ?. Are there any set rules ?

Are you allowed to show your smock or would you use a linen kerchief ?

I have seen a couple of pictures which suggest you use a kerchief.

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:57 pm
by MedicKitten
for what period? Are we talking about a boned or unboned garment?

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:14 pm
by Sophia

Kirtles can be are generally not too low for WOTR, they should be at least as high as the over-kirtle/gown you intend to wear over them.

As to showing shift - a small amount is ok, but not acres at this period. Shifts are scoop necked at this point and really shouldn't show cleavage. In fact cleavage as we understand doesn't really show up in women's fashion until the restoration period.

If you want to keep warm, protect yourself from the sun etc., then a piece of hemmed linen roughly a yard square is very useful. It can also be used as a headrail.


P.S. If you can't find any English images it is worth checking out the Flemish painters such as Rogier van der Weyden. The clothes are very similar to what was probably worn in England - there was a huge amount of trade between the Flanders and England at this period. Indeed, William Caxton spent some time as the Master of the Staple at Brugges before returning to London and eventually setting up his printing press.

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:19 pm
by craig1459
MedicKitten wrote:for what period? Are we talking about a boned or unboned garment?
The username's a clue :wink:

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 5:54 pm
by MedicKitten
true, but what about the multiperiod people out there? :?

Kirtle neck.line

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 8:47 pm
by jelayemprins
where are your references to the word "shift" in the 15th century please?

Keen to know!

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:16 pm
by Sophia
Excuse me - meant smock, have been looking at later garments recently. The below mentioned publication refers to them as shifts from C18th.

[All the same a bit picky methinks. :twisted:]

[edit]Have checked OED and shift as a term for a body linen starts to be used in late C16th, first reference is Ben Jonson in 1598[/edit]

An excellent source for the beginner on body linens is the following pamphlet:

"Perfect Linens Plain and Fancy: The Seamstress' Art in making Shirts and Smock for Persons of every Degree, Explained with All necessary Methods, with many Illustrations" by Sarah Thursfield

It can be purchased from the good lady herself and she is normally at TORM, alternatively you could try her website if it is now working again.

Sophia :D

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:05 pm
by Karen Larsdatter
Some illustrations of 15th century women in their smocks:

(I could only find one reference to a smock in the Paston letters, in an inventory in the 1470s.)

Some more pictures of kirtles at ... leeves.pdf too (though the article is really more focused on sleeves than on necklines).

Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:24 am
by katiepoppycat
I'm a little confused now. I'm relatively new to re-enactment and I've always heard it called a shift so i did too. I just checked MEdieval Tailor#s assistant and ST calls it a smock. Is there a difference or does it not matter?

Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:12 pm
by Sophia
The difference appears to be only in period (see my earlier post). I have checked some other reference books I have which use wills as a source, as well as Chaucer and the small number of references there are all to smocks not shifts.

The issue here is using the correct terminology for the period - if you want to do good LH whether 1st or 3rd person you should ensure that you are using the right terminology and can explain it to the MOPS.

Sophia :D

Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:00 pm
by katiepoppycat
so smock prior to 18C, shift after? thanks for that, it's funny how you can not even realise that you aren't quite getting it right!

edit just saw your edit. smocks prior to 16C. thanks again! edit

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:15 pm
by sara1459
cool - learnt lots of good stuff. Cheers