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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.


NOTE: See also the files: underwear-msg, codpieces-msg, corsets-msg, hoops-msg, hose-msg, Knit-Stockngs-art, Tudor-Shirts-art, p-sleepwear-msg, cross-dressng-msg.





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).


Thank you,

    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



Stefan's Florilegium--underwear-msg.


(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

http://www.greydragon.org/library/underwear1.html">http://www.greydragon.org/library/underwear1.html entitled "Sherts, Trewes,


Hose .ij. :Documentable Details" and also Underwear 3 at

http://www.greydragon.org/library/underwear3.html">http://www.greydragon.org/library/underwear3.html entitled "Sherts, Trewes,


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

extant pieces,

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 ones 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

Farthingale: http://costume.dm.net/farthingale/">http://costume.dm.net/farthingale/; How to make an Elizabethan

Corset http://costume.dm.net/corsets/index.html">http://costume.dm.net/corsets/index.html ; Elizabethan Smocks and

Chemises http://costume.dm.net/chemise.html">http://costume.dm.net/chemise.html ; Handknit Elizabethan Hose

http://www.dabbler.com/ndlwrk/stocking.html">http://www.dabbler.com/ndlwrk/stocking.html )


Elizabethan Undergarments


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


Elizabethan Petticoats


(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.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org