|The Cotehardie & Houppelande Homepage:|
|A Text by R. Turner Wilcox
This is a slightly modified text from the Wilcox book, edited for ease of the reading, grammar, and space concerns.
Italian Medieval or gothic
Historians place the Middle Ages as the period between the fall of Rome, A.D, 476, and the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Others designate the period between the tenth and eleventh and the fifteenth centuries, as the flowering of the Gothic Period. With the end of the Dark Ages, men and women were still wearing the Greco-Roman costume showing its Bvzantine influence, but which, due to the teachings of Christianity, tended more and more to conceal the figure. In fact, the ecclesiastical mode definitely affected both style and color of clothes.
At first was worn the bliaud a tunic with long sleeves, reaching to the knees on the men and to the feet on the women. Over that the pallium, or cloak, fastened in front by a large brooch or buckle. The men wore long, fitted and sewn stockings, a contribution of the Northern Barbarians. These stockings or tights were held up by a belt around the waist and were cross-gartered from the knees down. Later, the man's bliaud lengthened to the ankles.
By the eleventh century, the bliaud and mantle were worn by both sexes. The chainse or undertunic was made of wool, linen, hemp or silk, fastened at neck and wrist by buttons or tied with tassels. Later, it became really a piece of lingerie and was made of sheer washable fabric, with an embroidered edge showing at neck and wrists. Over that was worn the bliaud or long tunic, alike for men and women, reaching to the floor. The gown either hung straight or was belted with a plain or jewelled girdle and had long sleeves.
The fabrics had become rich and heavy, handsomely embroidered, fur-trimmed and fur-lined for cold weather. Ermine was the preferred pelt, but a fur called miniver, or menu vair, was also used extensively by fashionable people. It was gray and white, in small skins, and was a species of Russian and Siberian squirrel, also called petit-gris.
With the thirteenth century, the full overtunic of the men had short ended to the knees and by the latter part of that century, young men were wearing their tunics "shockingly" short. The tunic either hung straight or was belted, with a skirt of only a few inches below the waist. Hip-length was belted, with a skirt of only a few inches below the waist. Hip-length stockings or tights were worn, made of bias material, usually red with gold and jewelled garters, accompanied by soft leather shoes.
Fabrics were dyed scarlet, green, blue and purple, of which there were fine linens, handsome brocades, embroideries and velvets. Sicilian brocades of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were the finest in the world. All kinds of fur continued to be used, ermine being the favorite. Dull black cloth was worn for mourning, with tunic and mantle banded with white. The woman wore a white gauze cap, over which she draped her mantle.
Both sexes wore sumptuous loose full mantles. A particular masculine style was a long full cape with no opening except that for the head. The feminine tunic invariably had a train and many attempts were made to regulate the length of it.
The masculine head covering was a hood and shoulder cape in one. The hood, or chaperon, always had a point and this point, or liripipe, grew to all lengths over the years, to where it was worn wrapped about the neck or arm, or left to hang in back. Many arrangements of draping it about the head evolved. Later, the liripipe was draped over a padded roll, turban in shape, called the roundlet. In the second half of the fourteenth century, the liripipe, as well as other garments, was ornamented with "petal-scalloped" or castellated edge. The long hood was permitted only to the noble, the commoner was compelled to content himself with a very short one.
Men also wore skullcaps, peaked bonnets and bonnets with rolled brims and a long feather. This is the first appearance of the feather in modish dress. Felt bonnets were often worn over the hood. Men wore their hair moderately long with a deep fringe over the forehead.
A later style of feminine robe, which appeared in the early fourteenth century, is important, as being the cause of the second advent of the corset, its first appearance being noted in prehistoric Greece. It is also note- worthy, as being a real frock instead of a tunic. This was a gown with snug-fitting bodice, from which flowed a full trailing skirt. It created a vogue for a slim figure and both lacing and dieting were resorted to, to acquire the necessary silhouette.
The principal head covering for women in the Middle Ages was a piece of fabric, either cotton or linen, square, oblong or circular in shape, hanging to the shoulders or below. It was a continuation of the palla and was known as the couvrechef, "headrail" or "wimple, Crowns were placed over it. Crowns, by the way, were but signs of wealth and position in those days, and did not become insignia of rank until the sixteenth century. In the twelfth century, the hair was often worn flowing. Blond hair being the desired color, women sat for hours in roofless belvedere towers atop their houses, bleaching their hair in the sun. False hair and cosmetics were also used.
Then came the chinband in the next century, a fold of white linen which passed under the chin, fastened by pinning to a band around the forehead. Sometimes, the chinband went completely round the head. In another style, the headband was stiffened, forming a low crownlike or toque type of headdress. Sometimes, the toque had no top.
In the fourteenth century, the hair was dressed close to the head, usually parted in the middle in Madonna style, sometimes with a coronet braid. Small caps, nets and cauls of exquisite filigree work were much used, covered with sheer veils of silk or linen, shot with gold, which hung to the shoulders. The hennin and its many variations appeared in the latter part of the fourteenth century, to last a hundred years or more, and was the invention of Medieval Italy.
The hennin was a long-pointed conical headdress. The escofflon, a very ugly style, said to have originated in England, had two horns. Veils of different lengths, sometimes long enough to reach the floor, hung from these strange bonnets. The hennin was held on the head by means of the frontlet, to which the bonnet was fastened. The frontlet or ring which showed on the forehead was part of a cap of wire netting worn under the bonnet. The frontlet was covered with silk or black velvet and with gold, when worn by nobles. Veils alone were often worn. Elaborate stuffed rolls, turbanlike in shape, of Byzantine origin, were worn by Venetian ladies.
In the early thirteenth century, the Crusaders, returning from the East, brought beautifully embroidered costume accessories, which gave rise to a great vogue for such decoration. Pouches, bags, shoes, girdles and gloves were richly embroidered by ladies, who were proud of their accomplishment. In the same period, the Persian art of applique was copied. In the fourteenth century, pearls and spangles were added to the colorful embroidery.
ln the fourteenth century appeared parti-colored clothes for men, which idea women later copied. The garment was divided into halves or quarters and each section was of a different contrasting color, even each shoe and stockings varying in color. Later, they took to dividing the costume diagonally and, by the end of the fourteenth century, men and women were wearing the coat of arms of both sides of their families appliqued or embroidered on their costumes.
Shoes of both sexes were soft and pliable, having pointed toes and covering the foot to the ankle. They were works of art, executed in scarlet or violet velvet, even cloth of gold, ornamented with colored embroidery, strips of gold and sometimes encrusted with gems. Later, they were also fashioned of very soft leathers. The toes of men's shoes grew to such lengths, being stuffed too, that they finally reached a point where they were held up by fine chains attached to the knees. These shoes were called poulaines. Also called poulaines were the clogs, or pattens, made of wood and worn to protect the soft shoes. They had very thick soles of wood or cork and a heel about an inch high. Fattens appeared about 1377, lasting into the eighteenth century. The chopine, adopted principally in Venice, came from Turkey. lt was of wood, a stiltlike affair, painted and gilded.
Among the accessories were embroidered gloves of leathers occasionally ornamented with jewels and often with a single gem on the back. They were worn first by the men and later adopted by the women. The scented glove of Eastern origin appeared in Venice in the eleventh century and the vogue lasted for several hundred years. The handkerchief, a very costly accessory of display, was in the possession of the fashionable wealthy only, and usually that person owned but one.
Fans, of the hand-screen design, were imported from the Orient in the twelfth century and became generally used. Ostrich, parrot or peacock feathers were fastened to handles of ivory or gold set with precious stones. It was a period of heavy massive chains and jewelled belts. From the belt or girdle hung a purse or pouch, from which wealthy people of both sexes scattered coins or alms to the poor. Jewelled daggers were also suspended from the belt.
The making of silk in Italy dates from 1148 at Palermo. Other beautiful silks came from the Orient and cotton from Egypt. Typical of the period were costly materials in diapered pattern with repented motif, principally of conventionalized flower designs.
By way of the ports of Venice and Genoa, Oriental luxuries reached the courts of Europe, Italy being thus the first to feel the effects of the more refined culture of the East. Venice reached its height of prosperity about 1400, with the Venetian mode influencing all Europe. However, it is recorded then in the fourteenth century Venice imported yearly a fashion doll from Paris.
The making of glass mirrors on a commercial scale was first developed in Venice in the fourteenth century, and from then on to the middle of the seventeenth century, when large mirrors were made, fashionable men and women carried small pocket mirrors in little cases of silk or ivory.
In the Middle Ages, the limit of one's extravagance in dress was specifically determined by one's position in society. Rich clothes were worn only by nobility. About 1476, the cost of robes, buttons, belts, jewels and furs, also the length of trains, were regulated by sumptuary laws, which held until the early part of the sixteenth century
French Medieval or gothic
The French medieval scene opens with men and women still wearing clothes of Roman origin, consisting of two tunics and a mantle for both sexes. The undergarment, or chainse, reached to the ankles, had long, straight sleeves and was usually belted. Over it men and women wore the bliaud or bliaut which exposed the sleeves and neck of the undergarment. Then a mantle fastened in front or on the right shoulder, leaving the right arm free. Later, the women held the ends of the mantle in the hands and the wraps of both sexes were often entirely pleated. The bliaud, origin of blouse, was sometimes ornamented with a handsome jewelled girdle.
In the thirteenth century, the chainse finally developed into the chemise or body garment, made of soft wool or linen, really the beginning of lingerie, but in saffron color. For a long period to come, it showed at the neck and wrists and was no doubt made principally of batiste, a closely woven sheer fabric which appeared in the thirteenth century. Batiste was named after its inventor, Batiste Chambray, but unlike the cotton batiste of today, was of very fine linen thread.
Later , an extra garment, the surcoat, appeared. It was derived from the armor covering worn by the crusading knight to eliminate the glare of the sun on his armor, when in the East. The original covering hung straight, front and back, reaching to the knees and was caught at the sides. There was a hole for the head to pass through. His lady's surcoat was also short and sleeveless, with wide armholes and was worn over the bliaud. It was fastened by means of buttons on the shoulders. In cold weather, men and women wore a short jacket or doublet of fur or fur-lined between the chainse or body garment and the outer tunic, and over that the mantle.
Men wore beards and their hair shoulder-length until the tenth century, when beards disappeared and the hair w as bobbed with a long bang over the forehead, but shaved quite high in the back. In the following centuries of the period, it appears to have been worn moderately long, with the bob the prevailing style.
Women parted their hair in the middle and dressed it in two hanging braids, to which they often added false hair for length. The head covering consisted of a square of sheer colored linen or cotton and was known as the couvrechef in French, the wimple in English. Veils were required to be worn in church, women being forbidden to enter bareheaded. Crowns were worn by all members of the upper class, and not until the sixteenth century were designs settled to designate the rank of the wearer. Women wore the crown over the wimple.
In the thirteenth century, the surcoat took the place of the bliaud for both sexes. That of the man reached a point below his knees, hung straight or was belted, had short sleeves or none. In the fourteenth century, it shortened to the knees, while the sleeves lengthened considerably, some- times almost reaching to the floor. These sleeves hung over the hands, or had openings halfway up from which the arms protruded. The long sleeves were often in knots at the ends. With the longer surcoat, a man wore long, sewn and fitted stockings, which were usually red and fastened under the surcoat by lacings with points.
The lady's surcoat of the thirteenth century was a long full robe touching the floor, belted at the waist. The lady copied the very long sleeves of her lord and often they were really false sleeves attached to the shoulders of her dress. The fantastic sleeves of both sexes lasted well into the sixteenth century. "Petal scalloped" or castellated edges on all garments became very popular.
In the fourteenth century, the feminine surcoat opened at the sides, revealing a fitted dress underneath, known as the cotehardie. The cotehardie was either laced or buttoned in center front from neck to below the waist and had long tight sleeves with a row of buttons from elbow to the little finger. With it was usually worn a low-placed jewelled girdle, which showed in the side openings of the overdress.
Men also wore the cotehardie, of which the masculine version was a tight-fitting tunic buttoned down center front, having also the same long sleeves with buttons. Like the woman's dress, it too had a low-placed girdle.
The surcoat disappeared in the fifteenth century, women then wearing a real dress called la robe, in which the fitted bodice with tight sleeves was joined by a belt to a full skirt.
The man's surcoat was replaced by a jacket, under which he wore the justaucorps, or pourpoint, a sort of body coat, quilted and closed by lacings either back or front. The pourpoint originated as a garment worn under armor and was made with or without sleeves. It was also worn as the jacket proper and its vogue lasted from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries.
Shoes of the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were of velvet and soft leather fastened by. a jewelled button or buckle, often ornamented with embroidery, strips of gold and gems. As in Italy, pattens were worn to protect the soft sole. The stiltlike chopine of Turkish origin adopted by Venetian women was also worn by French ladies.
In the middle of the fourteenth century, shoes a la poulaine became the style, lasting until 1480. Their long, pointed toes grew to such lengths that it became necessary to hold up the stuffed points by gold chains attached to the ankles or knees. Noblemen were permitted toe lengths of two feet, gentlemen one foot, while the common man could have but six inches beyond his toes. They originated in Cracow, Poland, and became fashionable at all European courts. The French called them poulaines after Poland and the English crackowes after Cracow.
Due to the influence of the Christian religion, all during the thirteenth century, women's hair was more or less concealed by the wimple and neckcloth or gorget, which covered head and neck. Variations of these medieval headdresses survive today in many religious orders.
Then followed a small crownlike toque worn over a headband and chinband, all of white linen. The hair was dressed Madonna style, parted in the middle and drawn into a chignon. Following that period, the hair was parted down the center back, plaited and the two braids dressed over the ears in wheel fashion, or wound in loops at the sides of the face, covering the ears. The neckcloth or gorget was fastened to the hair over the ears with pins and the headcloth draped over it.
A most decorative style, the reticulated headdress or golden net caul, reminiscent of the Byzantine fashion, appeared in the fourteenth century, lasting until the middle of the fifteenth century. In that style, a low metal band or jewelled crown held the cauls of gold braid or wire set with gems with which the hair was covered. Cauls were also fashioned of gold braid, the checkered openings filled in with crimson silk. In this period of the golden net caul and hennin, both of which entirely concealed the hair, the short hairs at the nape of the neck were shaved off. Eyebrows were plucked to give a fine line.
In the fifteenth century, turbans were worn, which, too, concealed the hair. They were large stuffed rolls over which the wimple was some- times draped. These stuffed rolls were also used to form some shapes of the hennin, principally the heart-shaped style. The hennin was brought to France by Isabella of Bavaria in the latter part of the fourteenth century and its vogue lasted a hundred years. There were many styles of the hennin, invariably draped with a veil, floating or with wired edge. They became so extravagant in size that the authorities found it necessary to regulate the height according to the social position of the wearer.
Women wore a huge cloaklike cape, which in winter was lined with fur. Of men's cloaks there were several styles, principally a voluminous cape, with collar and fastened on one shoulder. The houppelande, which originated in the Low Countries, was a long, full robe with long, full, flowing sleeves, held in folds at the waist by a leather or jewelled belt.
Men wore hoods, toques, chaperons and felt hats in sugar-loaf shape and with brims. Feathers as hat ornamentation first appeared in the Middle Ages, peacock plumage being favored. The cowl, or capuchon, was attached to the cloak, but the chaperon was originally the hood attached to the shoulder cape. Its point, which began to lengthen in the latter part of the thirteenth century, grew until, in the fourteenth century, it was wound round the head, and by the fifteenth century the pipeline tail, or liripipe, sometimes reached the floor. Eventually , the liripipe became merely a trimming added to a real hat or turban. The turban, or stuffed roll, was called roundlet and, when trimmed with the liripipe, was known as the chaperon turban. Dashing young men often slung the chaperon turban over their shoulders, instead of wearing it on their heads.
Parti-colored clothes became the style, with the entire costume being divided into sections of contrasting colors. Ladies and gentlemen of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries wore their coats of arms emblazoned upon their costumes, stamped into the fabric in gold and silver leaf and enamels. Such costumes bore the name of cottes historiees.
Small silver bells, that odd form of ornamentation, were in vogue in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. They were suspended from leather belts, jewelled girdles, around the neck, and were worn by men and women.
Both men and women wore heavy massive chains and jewelled belts. For a time, around 13oo, women replaced gloves with mittens. The fashion of wearing gloves spread and several small French towns specialized in the making of them. They were made of doeskin, sheepskin and hareskin. Perfumed gloves were most fashionable, especially violet- scented ones, which appeared around 1400. Walking sticks were carried by men in the fifteenth century.
The principal fabric was cloth of Scotch wool, woven in Flanders and England, but there were also gorgeous silks from the Orient and Italy. Louis XI, in 1466, first established silk weaving at Lyons. Velvet, the greatest favorite, appeared in the thirteenth century and was woven in Paris. The tapestries of the Saracens were imitated and, as in Italy, the vogue for diapered patterns prevailed. Ermine was the costliest fur, but marten and miniver were much used. The idea of ornamenting white ermine with the small black tails originated in the twelfth century.
French queens of the Middle Ages wore white for mourning, but the Spaniards had been using black since 1100. In that feudal era, once a year at a stated time, the seigneur of a castle made gifts to the noblemen attached to his estate, of cloth or costume. The gift was called livree, which is the origin of our word livery, or uniform of a servitor. The law governed the amount of one's possessions in wearing apparel, also the size of a cloak and the width of trimming. Nobles were permitted to own hoods with long liripipes, while the commoner was compelled to content himself with just a hood.
We read that in the thirteenth century, Paris was already giving proof of its great flair for the creation of artistic clothes and artistic cloths and that in the fourteenth century Venice imported annually a French fashion doll. The small waxen mannequin attired in the very latest style was exhibited to the Venetian ladies. This method of "fashion-journalism" lasted to our own Colonial Period, when we read of "fashion dolls," or "fashion babies," coming to New York or Philadelphia by way of London. The thirteenth century is considered the most brilliant period of the Moyen Age. The French Medieval Period is supposed to have reached its end with the reign of Louis XI, 1461 to 1483. An establishment for the making of silk under royal patronage was decreed by Louis in November, 1466.
Many luxuries reached the Western World through contact with the Orient during the Crusades, such as the cotton plant, with its name of Arabic origin and the Arabian invention of cotton paper, replacing parchment. Satin and velvet, with their names of Byzantine origin, and the knowledge of embroidery and carpet weaving came from the East. Toilet articles, such as rouge and glass mirrors instead of polished plates, were first used in the Orient. The revival of the custom of wearing beards by the end of the Middle Ages was a direct influence of Arabian contact.
English Medieval or gothic
In the early part of this period, the Britons, both men and women, were still wearing three important garments, the stola or cotte, the bliaud or overtunic, and the palla or mantle, all reminiscent of Greco-Roman style. But they also wore, next to the body, a piece of lingerie, a garment of thin white material, either wool or linen, called a shert, or camise. The bliaud, bliaut or bliaus, is the origin of the blouse and the camise of the chemise.
The feminine bliaud or overtunic, a sleeveless garment worn indoors, was often long, but sometimes reached only to the knees, below which hung the long underdress, or cotte. The masculine tunic stopped halfway below the knees, showing his chausses or long thick stockings with feet, which were cross-gartered with leather thongs.
Men and women wore loose cord or leather belts. The men wore low leather shoes fastened at the ankles, the women soft shoes of either leather or fabric. Women were accomplished in weaving and embroidering and the tunics of both sexes were ornamented with bands of needlework at the neck and hem. Men wore simple hoods or skullcaps, while the women concealed their hair under a scarf or "headrail" of linen or cotton. lt was circular, square or oblong and was wrapped about the neck line the Persian or Roman chincloth. A crown, if worn, was placed on top the headrail.
With the coming of the Normans costume, while remaining about the same in styles became richer in fabrics to which were added costly silks, furs and jewels. The first princess style of dress appeared in the time of William II in 1100. An opening in the center back, reaching from the waist to between the shoulder blades was laced, not tightly, but just enough to eliminate the wrinkles around the diaphragm. A cord girdle was added, on which hung purse, keys and mirror.
The coiffure then changed, the hair being worn parted in the middle with long braids to which false hair was often added for length and finished with ribbons wound about. The headrail developed into the wimple of fine white or colored fabric, held on the head by a snood or metal circlet. Later appeared the chinband and small toque of stiffened metal circlet. Later appeared the chinband and small toque of stiffened white linen. Sometimes it was crownless, with the wimple drawn through and draped in folds.
There was a long-lasting vogue for diapered fabrics, patterned with designs in lozenges, crescents and stars. The clothing of nobility was made only of costly cloths silks and finest linens, richly embroidered. So much gold tissue was worn that it became necessary to lay thin paper between the folds to prevent tarnishing and that is the origin of our "tissue paper."
Gloves with jewels on the backs were worn by the men. Their long loose drawers gave way to more fitted hose in gay colors, cross-gartered with gold bands. It is interesting to note the leather belt with buckle worn by men and women with the long tongue left hanging in front. The length of the yard measure was established in the reign of Henry 11, 1154 to 1189, by the length of the King's arm. In that period, men's tunics were fastened at the neck by means of small gold studs.
In the twelfth century, a new garment appeared for women called the pelisse It was a loose coat reaching to the knees had flowing sleeves and fastened at the waist. In fabrics there were wools woven in Flanders, brocades from Venice and, as on the Continent, ermine was the favored fur.
Between 1199 and 12I6, the surcoat was adopted in England by men and women, copied after the panel of fabric worn over the knight's armor. Surcoat was the original name for the garments the cotte or coat being the dress underneath. The surcoat was held in place by a cord girdle or belt. The cotte eventually became the petticoat, while the surcoat developed in to the dress.
Gloves were made of wool and leather s and ladies carried theirs tucked into their belts. The shoes of both sexes in this period were of fabric or leather , often embroidered. Toward 12OO, women dressed their hair up and adopted the chinband, to which the wimple was pinned, all of sheer linen.
In the early part of the thirteenth century, the cotehardie took the place of the surcoat. For men, it was a tight-fitting jacket buttoned down center front. It had long, tight sleeves which buttoned from elbow to the little finger and was finished with a jewelled belt placed low on the hips. The now long, fitted stockings or tights were fastened under the jacket with laces and points.
In the fourteenth century, parti-colored clothes appeared and lasted a half century. At the same time, the toes of the soft, plain or embroidered shoeS grew to very long points, which were stuffed and stiffened. Pattens were worn outdoors to protect the soft soles.
In the latter part of the thirteenth century, appeared the liripipe, or hood with tail. In the fourteenth century, men wore the draped turban of the Continent with its very long tails which was either wrapped around the neck or left hanging in the back. By the end of that century, the liripipe became part of the folds of the turban, looking very much like a cock's comb, thence the term "coxcomb," designating a dandy. That ornament dwindled in size, becoming finally , an insignia, the remains of which we have today in the cockade on the coachman's hat. Skullcaps, tall-crowned felt bonnets with narrow rolled brims, were in style too, often the bonnet worn over the hood. The roundlet, the evolution of the chaperon turban, was adopted by Englishmen in the fifteenth century. They also copied the Continental fashion of wearing it slung over one shoulder , holding the liripipe in one hand.
The masculine haircut was usually moderately short, but, in contrast to that style, some men wore their hair cropped short like a priest's and the back of the neck shaved.
There were several styles of cloaks, long and loose, square or circular, with or without hood, wide at the neck or buttoned with two or three buttons. Some had collars and lapels of fur. There were also men's hats with fur brims. Nearly always the masculine costume was finished with a black leather belt, from which hung a triangular pouch and dagger.
At that time there was little change in women's costume, which consisted usually of three garments: the cotte, or robe of cloth with long, tight sleeves and high at the neck ; a tunic over that, having shorter and wider sleeves and fuller skirt, of which one or the other had a train ; worn over the two was the surcoats and around the throat a gorget of sheer over the two was the surcoat, and around the throat a gorget of sheer sheer white material, to which the wimple was pinned.
The hair was done in braids, which were looped up on either side of the face. Later, the wimple was replaced by cauls of various shapes, nets , nets of gold thread or braid interspersed with jewels. This style is known as the golden net caul or the reticulated headdress. Any hair that showed on the back of the neck below the caul was plucked; even eyebrows were were plucked in those days and rouge was in fashion.
In the fourteenth century, the houppelande came from the Low Low Countries and was adopted by men and women. It was long and voluminous, belted at the waist, often fur-trimmed and occasionally fur-lined. 1iined. Young men wore a short version of it, but the various styles of the houppelande were in rich fabrics, sometimes elaborately embroidered. In the In the same period, edges of garments were petal-scalloped and castellated. Later, the houppelande was belted into evenly arranged pleats.
The heavy gold chain of the period has survived as a badge of office,office, worn today by mayors, judges and various orders. Large thumb rings rings were worn, and masculine and feminine costumes were ornamented with heraldic designs stamped on the cloth and velvet in gold, silver and colored enamels.
In the fourteenth century, the underdress with low-placed girdle, the cotehardie, became the mode, also the various styles of the hennin. The tall hennin was called the "steeple headdress" and the two-horned one the escoffion, which is said to have originated in England. As on the Continent, the hennin was fastened to a tiny skullcap worn underneath with the frontlet showing on the forehead. The frontlet was of black velvet and was permitted only to persons having ten pounds a year or more. Then came colored wimples after centuries of only saffron or white having been used.
Along with the more elaborate hennins came the higher-waisted gown with fitted bodices while men adopted short tunics with full sleeves and the broad shoulders of Venetian influence. The long-pointed masculine shoes, called in England "crackowes" after the town of their origins Cracow, Poland, lengthened to such a degree thats in 1463, an ordinance was passed permitting persons of rank to have points but two inches beyond their toes.
Small silver bells were a fashionable adornment in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. The jester's costume of parti-colored clothes, hood with short cape, castellated edges, tinkling with bells, has come down to us intact, as the dress of that period.
Flemish and German Medieval or gothic
The Flemings were skillful weavers, their craft dating from 900. Tapestry weaving in Europe originated in their city of Arras in the fourteenth century. They produced beautiful patterned leathers which rivalled those of Spain. They wove woolen cloth from English and Scotch wool, which was worn by all the other countries and sent to the East in exchange for the luxuries from those regions.
In the thirteenth century, the long tunic and mantle were still worn in the Low Countries. The tunic reached to the ankles on the men and was full-length on the women. Men wore their hair long, curled at the ends, while that of the women was long and flowing.
By 1300, the same development in the tunic as that in the neighboring countries had arrived. The women's tunic gradually changed into a robe, which was important as a German style, because it was worn over a corset. It was a fitted dress with flowing sleeves and unadorned neck and was worn over a complete undergarment, the chainse or chemise.
About the middle of the fourteenth century, the cotehardie appeared. For men, it was a short, fitted tunic, reaching halfway down between thigh and knee. It buttoned down center front and had long, tight sleeves with buttons from elbow to the little finger. The women's cotehardie resembled that of the man, except that the skirt lay in folds on the ground. Over it was worn the surcoat with large armscye, exposing to view the jewelled girdle at the hips.
The man's tunic changed into the pourpoint, a quilted jacket, short of skirt, the body laced either front or back and worn with longs fitted stockings or tights. When the pourpoint was sleeveless, it was worn under the jacket. The later carefully pleated tunic worn by all fashionable Europe originated in Flanders.
Because of the colder climates fabrics were practical and heavy, richly patterned, but not distinguished. There were silks, brocades, velvets and cloth of gold, also their own beautiful woolens. The Flemings had developed the weaving of linen and cotton to a high degree, producing sheer veiling, muslin and delicate gauze, which were used for headdresses.
The hair was now dressed close to the heads a favorite style being long braids coiled on each side of the faces then, draped over that arrangement, the wimples which in Germany and Flanders was most intricate and of many styles. Cauls and circlets of gold were worn too and crowns were placed on top of the wimple. The gorget enjoyed its vogue, worn pinned to the wimple.
Men wore hoods, the draped or chaperon turban and hats with brims. Men and women wore the softs fitted shoe of leather or fabric like those of the other countries and used pattens in the streets. Both sexes were fond of many finger rings, worn also on the thumbs. The women did not use cosmetics. Fashionable people of the Low Countries, in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, adopted the fad of utilizing small silver bells as ornamentation on their clothes.
This people liked brilliant colors, They wore the parti-colored costumes of the period and surpassed all the other countries in their use of petal-scalloped or castellated edges of garments. A peculiar style of the fifteenth century was the silhouette with a straight back and what we might describe as a bustle worn in front over the stomach
People of the Low Countries did not wear their clothes with the same style as their neighbors, their figures being heavier and shorter of waist. They did not have that innate feeling for the mode, so that their costumes became over elaborate and bulky.
Despite that fact, certain German styles did influence the northern countries. They furnished an important garment to the rest of Europe in the houppelande, a mode which lasted until the sixteenth century. Their adoption of that fantastic style of slashings and puffings in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, spread to the other courts of Europe, reaching its peak between 152O and 1535.
The starching of sheer fabrics used for caps, wimples and collars originated in Flanders. In the fondness of the inhabitants of the Low Countries for excessive ornaments not only in dress but also in architecture, can be seen the foundation of the baroque or rococo period of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Record has it that steel needles were made in Nuremberg in 1370.