An Introductory Timeline of Western Women's Fashion
I think a good place to start to get into dress history is general overview of the whole timeline. Understanding especially how the silhouettes change is really important ground knowledge to build the rest of the information on.
I'll start the timeline from Middle Ages and go till the first world war. I'll focus on upper class England/French sector, so keep in mind that before 17th century there were huge regional differences in fashion inside Europe and class differences too. There is a lot variance, changes and nuance inside any century and decade I'm about to discuss, but I'll try to keep this short and introductory and very simplified. I used a very scientific method of basically what makes most sense to me to divide the periods. I've made sketches what I would consider to be the basic silhouette of the period stripped mostly out of the detail and then I give couple of primary source examples.
12th century (Middle Ages)
Dress was simple one or more tunics over a chemise. They were overly long for upper classes, made out of straight lines. There were loose tunics often worn over another tunic, and tunics with laced bodice called biaut. In France bliaut sleeves often widened from the elbow, in England they often widened in frists.
13th century (Middle Ages)
Clothing was mostly very similar as in the previous century, though bliaut was mostly gone and new popular style was a loose sleeves surcoat.
14th century (Middle Ages)
Tailoring basically revolutionized clothing production, since clothes weren't made out of rectangles anymore and could be better made to fit form. Also functional buttons and lacing was popularized resulting in very fitted styles. The underlayer tunic, kirtle, became a fitted supporting layer.
15th century (Middle Ages)
Improvements in weaving technology and trade and growing prosperity in Europe showed in clothing as excess of fabric and variety of trends. Houppelande, a loose A-lined overdress lined with fur and fastened with a wide belt under chest, became a very popular clothing item, and in later decades developed into the iconic Burgundian dress (the red dress). Fitted overdress continued to be popular alongside the warmer houppelandes.
1500s-1550s (Tudor period)
In the renaissance era clothing became increasingly structured and elaborate. The bodice was heavily boned and the skirt was also structured.
1560s-1610s (Elizabethan Era)
Both structuring and elaborate decoration reach it's peak during Queen Elizabeth's reign. She became the defining fashion icon of the late renaissance.
In baroque era the bodice was still heavily structured, but more curved than the conical Elizabethan bodice. Otherwise though structuring was replaces with dramatic excess of fabric.
In the late 17th century there was a huge shift in the clothing industry as mantua, a loose open robe inspired by Japanese kimono, came to dominate fashion. Rigid bodice was replaces by structured under layer, stays. Stays brought back the conical silhouette of Elizabethan era.
Mantua developed into the iconic Rococo dress in France, robe à la francaise (first example picture), and in England robe à la anglaise with closed bodice. Rococo fashion was characterized by the wide silhouette of the skirt.
Since Tumblr won't accept more than 10 pictures per a post I'll have to continue in a reblog. So to be continued!
obsessed with this renaissance-style astronomical ring
I missed World Goth Day again.
pov: i look cute while i serve u a few pints
Fruits and Flowers
Eclaireurs by mairithetree
First watercolor illustration of 2022 <3 I hope you’ll enjoy the new paintings I’m planning to do, folks <3 This time, I took the concept of the fire witch from last year and modified it a bit :3 Here she’s teaming up with another member of the mercenaries’ squad she belongs to. The armors and costumes are inspired by Italian Renaissance fashion.
INDIS Flemish Painters
Alright, there we go ^^ Indis as Isabella of Portugal, Duchess of Burgundy and wife of Filips de Goede. It’s based on her portrait by Rogier van der Weyden. This was… a lot of gold embroidery ^^’
A soon-to-be addition to “Da Vinci’s Demon (?) fan art and fic prompt”, which can be found here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/30983144 .Crowley as he would have appeared when arriving at Da Vinci’s studio for his portrait sitting-or rather, a caricatured version of how he would have appeared. This is done in my standard commercial style, one which I’ve been doing for over 30 years, and which bores me half comatose. So I added an excessive amount of shading and details in a few areas to break with tradition. At any rate; this is why the Da Vinci emulation was well outside of my comfort zone!
A big Thank You to @charlottemadison42 and @kaiannanthi for being my eyes when my one that still operates went on strike!
Hi! Firstly I love your blog and all your research posts, I find them such good overviews on dress history topics I'm not familiar with. I was wondering if you had any information on lacing throughout history? Like when it was used on different kinds of clothing (not just corsets and similar) and what style of lacing would have been used. I know this is very specific so understandable if it can't be done. Thank you!
Thank you so much!! It really makes me happy to hear that people get use and enjoyment from my history ramblings! :D
This is an interesting question and it relates very closely with the history of supportive undergarments (which I am working a post about, but I'm still in research phase so it will be a while). I won't guarantee this will be exhaustive answer, there's probably some types of garments I don't know use lacing and some I miss and remember next week at the middle of the night. I'm focusing on women's clothing to narrow down the massive topic, but to be clear men's fashion utilized lacing too to create fashionable figures, including in men's corsetry. A fair warning, this post kinda blew out of proportion.
Lacing in Western Fashion History
So lacing is a closure method and pretty interesting one, because it has room for adjustments. If we think of other closure methods like buttons, zippers etc, you can't adjust them on the go. The obvious benefit is the ability loosen or tighten it with the changing body thorough day and between them and also fit it much more easily to another body. The other and perhaps much more significant benefit is that it can be used to tighten the bodice of a garment to be supportive for the bust, which has been it's primary usage across western fashion history.
Here's my little sketch about the most common historical lacing methods.
A - spiral lacing with symmetrical eyelets
B - spiral lacing with asymmetrical eyelets
C - ladder lacing
D - standard lacing
E - cross lacing.
There's some drawbacks to it too, since it's also slower than any other closure method. Spiral lacing though is the most simplest and quickest one, which is perhaps why it was so much used thorough history.
Before Middle Ages and mostly thorough early parts of it, a lot of closure methods weren't popularized around Europe. Pins and brooches were the go to method and they had pretty limited use. Tailoring hadn't been developed either so clothes were made of simple cuts and were loose so they would be able to get on and off.
A side note: There were some examples of fitted garments in ancient times but I don't know enough about them or how they were fitted.
Bliaut was a tunic type overdress used by all genders in the French influence area in early Middle Ages, from around 11th to 13th century, when it fell out of fashion. In 12th century for women it became the quintessential "medieval dress" with fitted bodice, often wide long sleeves and a girdle at waist. To be clear the bodice seemed to have been also fitted for men.
There's not really a lot of info on how exactly it was constructed and there has been a lot of debate around it, but it was fitted with lacing on the side. One of the most famous example depicting the 12th century bliaut is a statue in a wall of Angers Cathedral from circa 1200. It's very detailed example showing the lacing.
Tailoring still hadn't been developed yet, and it's theorized the bodice was rectangular, which is why the result wasn't smoothly fitted bodice but very wrinkled one. It's a little hard to make out, but it seems they used spiral lacing with symmetrical eyelets.
Soon after though bliaut went out of fashion in France influenced area and was replaced with much more loose styles till the 14th century.
Kirtle has many names, including cotte and cotehardie, which are sometimes used interchangeably, sometimes to refer to specific areas or periods, but I'll use only kirtle for ease. It also started as a loose garment for all genders. In 14th century tailoring was popularized and lacing made a comeback and so during the century kirtle became a formfitting supportive garment. Sometimes kirtle was closed with buttons, but that seems to be more popular for men's kirtles. Lacing or buttons were also used in sleeves to make them very form fitting too.
Here's an Italian painting from 1385-90. This style of kirtle with smooth front seemed to be popular around western Europe at the time. They either had lacing on side or back. I haven't seen a lot of paintings from the time where the lacing is shown, but it's probable they are using at least a lot of spiral lacing. Kirtle is also starting to become more of an undergarment as houppelande becomes fashionable as an overgarment at the end of the century.
15th century popular painting style is becoming more detailed, which is nice because they'll show the lacing. Front lacing in kirtle is popular, but you also see a lot of side lacing. Spiral lacing is still probably the most common style of lacing in paintings, but there's also cross lacing and ladder lacing, as in the painting below, which is from 1475-80.
At the time (and sometimes already in 14th century) lacing was also used to add detachable sleeves. It made it probably easier to use the kirtle as an undergarment too. In late 15th century Italy (and to some extent German speaking area too) they took this idea to it's logical endpoint and made elaborate sleeves with tons of lacing and the shift bulging under it. The below example is a detail from 1493-96 painting.
Aside from kirtle there was another laced garment, often called the bathhouse dress. The example below is from 1389, but they appeared in art as late as 16th century. They are depicted pretty much exclusively in bathhouse context, so it's possible it was a garment solely for bathhouse use. They are seen specifically in Central European art and most famously in Bohemian art, but also Austrian and High German. I have seen suggestions too that it was used as supportive shift too, and it's possible it was a supportive garment specific to that area. There were many different cuts of this type of dress, but the lacing seems to be either at the frond or the side.
Boned bodices and pair of bodies
In earlier centuries kirtle was sometimes interlined with heavier fabric, but in 16th century it became very structured. They used heavy stiffened fabrics and increasingly towards the end of the century a lot of boning too. Pair of bodies as a separate garment from a supportive bodice was also born.
During Renaissance the variety of styles of clothing gets really out of hand. Kirtle would stay in working class use as far as 17th century, but upper classes transition towards more elaborate dresses that are far removed from the kirtle. During the latter half of 17th century working class would start to use separate pair of bodies and petticoats, before bodies would transition into stays around 1680s. Here's an example of a boned working class kirtle from 1626 with lacing on back side.
Every gown would utilize lacing, but often it wouldn't be seen in fashionable clothing. It could be very subtly done or hidden with a stomacher. Stomachers became increasingly popular towards the end of the century. There was still some places where visible lacing was fashionable for upper classes too like Italy (Venice specifically), Germany and Low Countries. And absolutely all kinds of lacing was used.
In Venice particularly there was a very specific style of boned bodices with ladder lacing on the front like in this example from mid 16th century.
In the German speaking area, there was a very much not boned style where a very open bodice was laced in the front most often with spiral lacing, but I've seen examples of ladder lacing too. The example is from circa 1535.
When Baroque hits through in 17th century, fashion becomes more universal and less all over the place like it was in the previous century, but the fundamentals stay the same. Pair of bodies or heavily boned bodices were used and the closure method for these was very much still lacing. For pair of bodies, which could be used as outergarments outside of the formal occasions of upper class, it was usually on display, for bodices the lacing was usually hidden in the back, like in this example from 1660s. Sleeves could be often attached to bodies with lacing when used as outer garments.
The image limit is again the bane of my existence, so I'll continue in a reblog.
Breastplate Armor of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1549.
Fashion Friday: The Mannerism of Michelangelo
The Renaissance period is often synonymous with the greats of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and young Raphael. These master painters poised "imitation" as preeminent beauty, art as poetry—ut pictura poesis—with Michelangelo arguably harnessing the peculiarities of the human spirit most adeptly in his abstract sprawl of figures, elongating their unseen beauty.
A Renaissance essay on Michelangelo by the nineteenth century art critic Walter Horatio Pater investigates the imagination of the master, calling attention to the artist's wayward loves-at-first-sight and their contradictions with the sculptor's mantra of la dove io t'amai prima, or, where I loved you before. Pater argues that it is precisely this paradox that comprises harmony: the delight between the sweet and the strange.
Pater repudiated his own time of the Victorian era, acclaiming the decadence of the Renaissance period as the seizing of life, or more aptly in his own words on living:
...to grasp at any exquisite passion... or any stirring of the senses, strange dyes, strange colours, and curious odours, or the work of the artist's hands, or the face one's friend.
It is in his words that we can embrace the unnatural grace of the late Renaissance, the period adorned with the Mannerist style of bold outlines, objects at-play with nature, and form with fantastical animal-humans. This unique style of the Renaissance is attributed to Michelangelo's successors who desperately tried to imitate his alien elegance.
Hidden in the figures of Michelangelo are these languid features, satyrs in repose, where solemnity and "faces charged with dreams" dictate, as described by Pater. Darting poetic thoughts give us a glimpse of the bittersweet temperament of Michelangelo's genius. He wrote of his torments in the pagan frivolities of endless quarrelling and his anger at the Gods for loving him so that he reached an age of eighty-eight years.
In all of his years, Michelangelo claimed his figures to be common, austere persons, yet his hand rendered an inherent surprise and energy that future imitators would exploit in quirky forest gods and lovely monsters.
Ergo, my first fashion plate is titled "DRAGON EWER Dress," odd, but not as eccentric as the last two designs; perhaps you can trace the growth of the outlandish creature in each iteration.
Here is a listing of sources from the UWM Special Collections which I have augmented with digital color and outline to emphasize particular details of my inspiration:
1) A watercolor drawing by (or after) Wenzel Jamnitzer, circa 1575 in the Virtuoso Goldsmiths and the Triumph of Mannerism, published by Rizzoli International in 1976.
2-4) My interpretation and contemporary design of the DRAGON EWER Dress, SNAIL CUP Dress and DAVID TANKARD Dress based on Renaissance period vessels between 1540 to 1590 as published in the Virtuoso Goldsmiths and the Triumph of Mannerism, published by Rizzoli International, in 1976.
5, 6) French Renaissance plates of frieze borders in Rouen prayer books from 1508; and painted enamel work of Limoges under Italian faience between 1520 and 1540 as published in the Das polychrome Ornament: Hundert Tafeln, by P. Neff in 1880.
7) Walter Pater included an image of Michelangelo's The Holy Family, or, Doni Madonna, at the Uffizi in Florence, Italy in his aethesticism manifesto, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, published by the Limited Editions Club, Stamperia Valdonega in 1976.
8) Costume of the early sixteenth century often in velvets (red is common) and embellished with fewels, gold, lace, fur and feathers as illustrated by Belle Northrup in A Short Description of Historic Fashion published by the Teachers College at in 1925.
9) An 1592 engraving by Joseph Boillot titled Et Levrs Antipatie (possible translation Antipathy Lips) as published The Renaissance in France: Illustrated Books from the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, by the Houghton Library, Harvard University in 1995.
10) A drawing or possible woodcut of indentured lions as published in Thomas Wood Stevens' Book of Words: A Pageant of the Italian Renaissance, published by the Alderbrink Press at the Art Institute Chicago in 1909 for the Antiquarian Society.
View my other posts on historical fashion research in Special Collections.
View more Fashion posts.
—Christine Westrich, MFA Graduate Student in Intermedia Arts
Vento Aureo • 1600 AU (JJBA)
Melone & Ghiaccio
The one and only Anne Boleyn !
I tried to depict her as I think the real Anne might have looked like based of the descriptions and the posthumous portraits of her
Slytori Designs - New handmade Renaissance clothing with a modern aesthetic
obsessed with this dress from devilinspired