underwear-lnks – 12/2/06
A set of web links to information on medieval unmentionables, underpinnings, smalls, hosen, corsets by Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon.
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
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: liontamr at ptd.net
Subject: Links: Unmentionables!
Date: July 20, 2004 11:40:00 PM CDT
To: StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Greetings, faithful readers (and welcome to new readers in Caid, and the
portion of Drachenwald from which my personae hails, Ireland).
This week's Links List is all about underpinnings, smalls, hosen, corsets,
and, well, unmentionables. I was highly pleased with the quality of material
I found on the web on this subject. All snickers aside (and the Codpiece
article is worth a good few), it seems like some very serious research has
gone into this subject.
Before you continue on, reading the Links below, please take a moment to
understand how THIS list works. I do not accept individual subscribers,
since that would be too much for me to handle. I rely primarily on the good
will of others to pay this information forward to those who would find it
interesting (and to NOT forward it to those who don't care and will become
annoyed at huge messages in their inboxes). If you don't read the Links
Lists weekly due to lack of access, you can always find it on EK-south,
Thamesreach, SCA-Aethelmearc, ArtsSciences, and at SCAToday. In addiiton it
is cataloged at Stefan's Florilegium (under various subjects). In this
manner, these Links list go around the world, sometimes more than once. I
always enjoy reading where they go, so feel free to share that with me, and
to mention subjects you'd like to see covered in future Links lists.
Parental Warning: If passing this information on to youngsters, please edit,
delete or otherwise approve of two of the links below (which have warnings
attached), as they contian information of a very frank nature about intimate
body parts and functions. I'd probably let my kids read it, but you might
feel differently. Since it's all fairly good information, I'm letting the
adults judge for themselves if they wish to read it or not (librarian's
habits die hard).
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
Canton of Riverouge
Barony of Endless Hills
Kingdom of Aethelmearc
(Message Excerpt) One important factor in period underwear's favor is that
certain types of garb require a specific silouette, which modern underwear
cannot approximate. Therefore a period corset is necessary to give the
correct shape. And some gowns, especially 15th century Flemish, have such
low cut shoulders that a modern bra would show, front, top and back.
Some people get around this by replacing their modern bra straps with
velvet, and I've even seen one that faked the look of a smocked chemise.
Circa 1265: Braies information (Men's underwear)
(Site Excerpt) The picture shows that braies are large voluminous trousers
that reached to mid-calf length. Whenever they are depicted they are always
shown as white. (This is also the case for woman's headwear, male coifs and
undertunics. The Maciejowski's use of colour seems to reflect real life,
albeit one with a slightly limited palette). The braies hang and crease as
if they were made of fine linen.
Sherts, Trewes, & Hose .i. :
A Survey of Medieval Underwear
by maistre Emrys Eustace, hight Broom
(Site Excerpt) The braies were cinched at the waist with a running cord or
girdle which laced in & out of the rolled hemline. The hosen were originally
tied to this (until the late 14th or early 15th c.). Additionally, the purse
could be tied to this cord, and thus kept under the tunic, out of harm's
way. Slits in long tunics allowed access to the purse without "hoisting the
mainsail." (See also Underwear 2 at
Hose .ij. :Documentable Details" and also Underwear 3 at
Hose .iij. : Chosen Hosen" )
Midlaurel Medieval Undergarments and Accessories Page (list of links)
Reconstructing History: Your First Garb: A 15th century Shirt
(Site Excerpt) Well, here's a 15th century undershirt. It's not based on any
but rather period illustrations. This garment takes an incredibly small
amount of fabric. 2 yards of 60" wide material is all you need for a person
with a chest less than 55" around. An additional ¼ yd is all you need to fit
a man up to 80" around! (See also Your First Chemise
A Late 15th Century Italian Chemise Pattern
A brief how-to by Baroness Briana Etain MacKorkhill
(Site Excerpt) A chemise or shift was the foundation of most multilayered
garments. As such it varied from utilitarian to decorative according to type
of material used and visibility. It was used in various forms from early
10th century to 15th century Italian through to the end of our period. The
neckline varied to fit most every lady's needs. This particular pattern came
from Dress In Italian Painting and has proved invaluable. It is simple, easy
to make, and looks quite good when finished. It has a drawstring neckline
and optional drawstring, tie or button cuffs.
A brief essay on the leinte of early medieval Ireland
by Molly Kathryn McGinn (formerly N’ Dana)
(Site Excerpt) Early period (up to at least the 12th century ce) leines seem
to have been either sleeveless, or with fairly narrow or straight sleeves
eased by a gusset. Dunleavy states that styles gradually became more fitted
over time, perhaps from exposure to Norse styles. Gores appear to have been
speculative before the 10th century - they might have simply hiked their
leinte up over their belts when they wanted to move at more than a crawl.
The big baggy sleeves many people are familiar with are a later fashion,
though quite fun, and there's no reason not to make your leine with these
sleeves if you want to, they'll just be 16th century rather than early
Chausses And Braies
Garments for the Medieval Leg
(Site Excerpt) Note: Since writing this article, I have become aware of some
Viking bog and 14th c. English finds which do contain examples of chausses.
There are web sites which contain archeological descriptions of them,
including drawn patterns and scale, fabric type, etc. These chausses differ
from mine in that the legs are single pieces which wrap around the front and
seam up the back. They also differ in having a single foot top which wraps
down to a seam along the bottom center of the foot to just before the heel.
This is most clearly shown in the pair belonging to the Bocksten Bog Man. I
suggest that you read my article to get an idea of the shapes and what you
need to finish your set, then try making a set based on the archeological
patterns. Use this article as a guide to help you through it. For SCA
purposes and comfort, you may desire to use my version of the foot for its
non-authentic padded sole. My instructions for pinning the leg to get a good
fit will also be useful.
Tempus' Sewing: Codpiece (warning--some frank talk about men's anatomy)
(Site Excerpt) While visiting England, Duke Fabrizio of Bologna, dressing
hastily after a quick romantic interlude, used the flap to contain (or
perhaps restrain) his nether parts while appearing before King Henry VIII
and Queen Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn Queen Anne, amused at the Italian's
conspicuous bulge, remarked "Be that thine codling or art thou glad to see
me?" Of course, "codling" is 15th century English for either a "small,
immature apple" or "any of several elongated greenish English cooking
apples," so we may never know if the Duke's fruit was being ridiculed or
Markland Medieval History
Braies And Trousers
(Site Excerpt) Braies are short linen trousers over which are worn the hosen
(long stockings). No medieval braies are known to exist today, but
illustrations show that they were somewhat baggy, with a sort of "diaper"
effect in the crotch, and the knees were gathered and tied. There was
presumably a drawstring at the waist, and sometimes it seems that the waist
was made extra high, and the excess fabric rolled down over the drawstring.
A pair of points (laces) sewn inside the braies and hanging out over a waist
roll would make effective and comfortable suspension for one’s hosen.
Whether the waist is rolled or not, you will need some sort of points or
loops to fasten the hosen.
(See also this LARP site, with exact same verbiage but also pictures
How to make a Bumroll
(Site Excerpt) A Bumroll, which, as its name suggests, was a roll tied
around the bum, was an essential piece of Tudor and Elizabethan underwear.
It was tied around the hips to make a woman's skirt swell out becomingly at
the waistline before falling to the ground. Like all items of women's
fashion, it was the victim of scathing satire and clerical condemnation, but
it was nevertheless used throughout the 16th century and into the 17th, and
considered an essential aid to fashionable dress. Here is a 1590's satirical
cartoon featuring a good look at the late period bumroll. (See also: Spanish
Contains sections on Partlets, Corsets, Smocks and Chemises.
Elizabethan Geek articles: Did Women wear underwear in SCA period?
(Warning--site contains frank talk about women's bodily function and how
that may have been handled historically)
(Site Excerpt) So the remaining part of the puzzle is some pictures we have
from period of women wearing pants, plus one or two extant pairs of Italian
drawers dated to ca. 1600 (and shown in Cunnington's "History of
Underwear"). In the various discussions I've seen on other lists, people
have said that women-in-braies iconography often has to do with stories
about henpecked husbands... "She's wearing the pants" and so on. I'm not
familiar with those pictures but it seems like a reasonable argument.
History of the Elizabethan Corset
by Drea Leed
(Site Excerpt) When people think of 16th century dress, the first thing that
comes to mind is the corset. The corset represents a fundamental shift in
the concept of clothing and tailoring; instead of shaping clothes to the
body, as had been done throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the body
began to conform to the fashionable shape of the clothing worn.
First Things First--Venetian Underwear
(Site Excerpt from Drawers section) From the Moors to the Spanish:
"Unmentionables in our period were mentioned but not illustrated for the
noble ladies of Spain. The Duchess of Alburquerque's inventory (1479)
includes linen drawers and their white silk cords, presumably for tying
about the waist. There are also 9 white ribbons carrying white and gold
aglets that had belonged to drawers. The Empress had drawers of yellow satin
trimmed with strips of cloth of silver, together with blue and white silk
stockings....The Fact that the Empress's (Isabel of Portugal) zaraguelles
were accompanied by stockings suggests that her drawers also reached to the
knees, and that drawers and stockings may have been joined, perhaps with
agleted laces as men's upper - and netherstocks could be joined."
Elizabethan Smock Pattern Generator
See also the Corset Pattern Generator at
Simply insert your measurements to get a fitted the pattern
(Site Excerpt) There are two distinct types of underskirts worn underneath
the outer skirts of an Elizabethan woman: an underskirt gathered to the
waist, decorated with bands of fabric or trim if decorated at all, known as
a petticoat; and the often elaborately decorated a-line kirtle, gored and
fitted to the waist rather than gathered, which was worn over a spanish
Making a Gored Kirtle Pattern
(Site Excerpt) The gored kirtle I wear beneath my flemish gown is based
roughly on the loose kirtle, dated to c. 1570-1580, described in Janet
Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620. The placement of the seams around
the body is the same, aside from an added side-back seam to eliminate
wrinkling at the back waist and add fullness to the back skirt. Rather than
hanging loose from the shoulders, however, it is fitted to the waist and
flares out from there.
Everything you ever wanted to know about boning with hemp cord, but were
afraid to ask!
(Site Excerpt) After posting my experiment with hemp cord boning in my
Florentine Dress Diary, I was thrilled to get some wonderful feedback from
other costumers who were interested in trying it out for themselves. If you
haven't seen the diary, you might want to go back and check out the bodice
construction page to get more of the background info on using hemp
cords--the hemp stuff begins half-way down the page. You can also check out
the finished corded Florentine bodice or my corded corset to see what this
type of boning looks like in a finished garment. I decided to make this page
to go through the process step-by-step, give links to suppliers, and share
the work or other costumers who have made their own versions of bodices or
corsets stiffened with cord.