fashion-msg - 4/29/11
Why certain clothes were in fashion.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: crouchet at eden.com (james crouchet)
Subject: Re: Heels not period? Pft!
Date: 29 Dec 1994 21:55:43 GMT
Organization: Adhesive Media, Inc.
Alison Ingrid Grande (AIGRAN00 at ukcc.uky.EDU) wrote:
: This is just a question, I seem to remember reading once (even thought it was
: a medieval historical romance :|) that people started wearing heals to keep
: their hems from dragging in the mud and filth that could be found on streets
: or on floors.
: Anyone know the validity of this statement?
Actually, wooden "flats" and overshoes developed to keep the mud off the
shoes and, later, boots. The purpose for heals was apparently to fit
better in the stirrup, but they quickly became a fashion item because
fashionable people rode horses. I have not found a definitative source on
this, but it seems to be the case, at least in Europe around 1600 to 1630.
:And I do remember hearing once that the more impractical an article of clothing
:was, the more popular it was with the high muckety-mucks. They could wear
:impractical clothing because they did not need to do physical labor.
Close. Not just that they didn't have to do physical labor, but that they
_could not_ do so easily in such clothes. This demonstrated that they
must be wealthy/powerful enough to have servants to do that for them.
That, along with clothing made from many yards of rich cloth was a
display of great wealth. This becomes more the case as the period gets
What's more, the clothes were often designed so that they were difficult
or impossible for a person to put on without the help of servants. Think
about that next time you are struggling to put on your Tudor or
Elizabethian court dress!
: Alison of Windy Fields, Shire of Dragonsmark
From: David Corliss <corlisd at aa.wl.com>
Subject: Period costume patterns?
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 10:43:36 -0400
Organization: Retro Team, Parke-Davis Ann Arbor
Laura McKinstry wrote:
> It's important that you define "period" as there are many. For the
> Elizabethan period, I don't think you can beat "Elizabethan Costuming
> for the years 1550-1580" by Janet Winter and Carolyn Savoy. ISBN
> 0-9630220-0-8. $15 This will put you in England or Ireland during the
> reign of Elizabeth Tudor. Possibly other coutnries, but as an
> Irishwoman, I didn't research that far.
As my gentle Lady would point out (as with most things, I know nothing of such matters myself), British fashion was strongly influenced by Spanish at this time, Thus, apart from minor stylistic changes, Elizabethan costuming works very well for Spain. The hair included certain aspects not commonly found in England (the coffia de tranzada, for example) and the Spanish ever showed a preference for a more understated opulence, black on black being much more popular in Spain
than in England. Never hard and fast rules, these are trends and influences more commonly found in one area than another. Generally, it reflects Spain's older aristocracy (versus the English Mercantile influences and virual re-invention of the nobility after ther War of the Roses), more cash, and a better sense of taste: Overall, the British at the time were rather _Nouveau Riche_.
Apart from these subtle differences, one could easily mistake Spanish portraiture for English, the portrait of Elanor of Castile with her young son being an excellent example.
Beorthwine of Grafham Wood
From: moondrgn at bga.com (Chris and Elisabeth Zakes)
Subject: Re: Time & Place
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 23:01:12 GMT
Rebekah Sandell <sandell.rebekah at ssd.loral.com> wrote:
>As for fashion, remember it took approximately 75 years to get fashion
>from Italy to England. Remember the three most important word to a
>period costumer are Location(place), Location(time), Location(social
I'd have to disagree with that, at least for the 16th century. I'm
currently reading William Harrison's "The Description of England",
written in 1587. In it he complains about people travelling to Italy
and returning with foreign ideas:
". . .the sending of noblemen's and mean gentlemen's sons into Italy,
from whence they bring home nothing but mere atheism, infidelity,
vicious conversation, and ambitious and proud behavior. . .:
If they are bringing all that baggage home, I'm sure they would be
bringing home some nice clothes, too.
C and E Zakes
Tivar Moondragon (Patience and Persistence)
and Aethelyan of Moondragon (Decadence is its own reward)
moondrgn at bga.com
From: "richard west" <westfamily at macoma96.fsnet.co.uk>
To: <stefan at florilegium.org>
Cc: <westfamily at macoma96.fsnet.co.uk>
Subject: why some clothes were in fashion
Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 17:14:03 +0100
Top hat-in imitation of the chimneys springing up in industrial Britain.
16th century split sleeves-after the battle of Grandson in 1476, the Swiss soldiers paraded round in sliced up, elaborate Burgundian garments.
Wigs-began with an obsession with hygiene after the introduction of syphillis from America. Became fashionable when Louis the 14th went bald and wore one.
Black victorian clothes-worn in the city so that all the soot wouldn't be noticed on their clothes.
Kilts-a cheaper alternative to trousers (Highland chiefs wore trews).
From: Charlene Charette [charlene at flash.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2002 8:03 PM
To: ansteorra at ansteorra.org
Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Re: walking authentically
> Actually it is believed that the way one would walk within the SCA period to modern day has changed. If one considers that there weren't many heels of any kind on shoes and the surfaces we walk on are different, you can begin to percieve the way the differences could occur. If one is wearing skirts that are near or on the ground then it really is a good thing to slow down as well. All of this changes the way we walk, how our feet turn and so on.
Written for women rather than men, but see Ruth Green's "The Wearing of
Costume: The Changing Techniques of Wearing Clothes and How to Move in
She describes how the style of each period affects the way you walk,
hold your body, use your arms, etc. Skirt shapes affect your gait,
sleeves affect whether the elbows are held near or away from the body.
From: otsisto <otsisto at SOCKET.NET>
Date: January 15, 2010 1:28:28 AM CST
To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu
Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Looking for resources on buttons
<<< Another small note: usage of buttons is also determined by era and
<<< then there's this take from around the mid 14th century. "It will be
noticed that Gilles li Muisis looks back to what he regarded as the good old
days when buttoned sleeves were worn only by woman of ill-repute and that
others sewed up their sleeves." -- Taken from "Fashion in the Age of the
Black Prince" page 129. (Appendix II. Gilles li Muisis on the current
This is one letter written by a beneditine abbott from Tournai. Therefore
you need to question what Gilles li Muisis considered a woman of ill repute
to be, whether the translator translated the letter correctly, what does the
whole letter say....etc. This still is a viewpoint of one person on fashions
of one area.
A good example of regional differences would be that in Rome (if memory
serves me correctly) a prostitute was expected to wear a yellow veil but in
another city the yellow veil was a sign of a Jewess. Another example of
regional fashions would be comparing Venice to Florence.
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2011 12:27:05 -0400
From: Marie Stewart <maricelt at gmail.com>
To: Atlantia - MerryRose <atlantia at seahorse.atlantia.sca.org>,
AEthelmearc List <discussion at aethelmearc.org>
Subject: [MR] Research Opportunity: Exhibition at the Getty
I just saw this come across the Medieval Textile list:
For anyone who might find themselves in Los Angeles this summer.
Getty (Los Angeles, CA, USA) :
Fashion in the Middle Ages
May 31 - August 14, 2011
The figures that inhabited the illuminated pages of medieval manuscripts
could be recognized at a glance by the clothing they wore. Artists
used costumes to identify people by profession or to place them in a social
hierarchy. Yet, as this exhibition demonstrates, illuminations did
not provide accurate depictions of dress. Wealthy patrons commissioned
images of a perfect world, filled with glamorous versions of themselves
and rather too-well-dressed peasants, while biblical figures were given a
"historical" wardrobe that mixed ancient and contemporary elements.
For those of us who live too far, there is the catalogue:
Scott, Margaret. Fashion in the Middle Ages. Los
Angeles: Getty Publications, 2011. 24cm.,
hardcover, 112pp., 88 color illus. Exhibition
catalogue. ISBN: 9781606060612 $19.95 Available June 2011.
Margaret Scott is the former head of the History of Dress department at the
Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and a world-renowned authority on
medieval clothing. She is the author of Medieval Clothing and Costumes:
Displaying Wealth and Class in Medieval Times (The Rosen Publishing Group,
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2011 10:54:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Karen <karen_larsdatter at yahoo.com>
To: The Merry Rose <atlantia at atlantia.sca.org>
Subject: [MR] Meanwhile, at the Morgan (was Re: Research Opportunity:
Exhibition at the Getty)
For what it's worth -- a similarly-themed exhibit will be at the Morgan Library
& Museum in New York City, May 20 to September 4.
"Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands"
From the exhibition description:
This exhibition will explore the evolution of fashionable clothing in Northern
Europe -- from the fashion revolution of the early fourteenth century to the
dawn of the Renaissance. Drawn from the Morgan's collections, over fifty
illuminated medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and early printed books are
The nearly 200 years just prior to the Renaissance in Northern Europe
constituted a fertile era for fashion, a period in which clothing styles changed
rapidly, often from one decade to the next. The exhibition examines the role of
social customs, cultural influences, and politics -- such as the Hundred Years'
War, the occupation of Paris by the English, and the arrival of the Italian
Renaissance in shaping fashion.
The exhibition also demonstrates the richness of symbolism in medieval art and
how artists used clothing and costume as codes to help viewers interpret an
image. In these works of art, what people wear is a clue to their identities and
To dramatize these fashions, four recreated ensembles replicating clothing
depicted in the exhibition will be on view. The garments wre made using period
hand-sewing techniques and authentic materials -- including silk velvet, gold
brocade, linen, straw, and ermine.
The Morgan's exhibition will also have a book, scheduled to come out in
"Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands,