Clothing Glossary

Words, especially names for things, are often confused. It doesn’t help that, over time, names can shift from referring to one thing to referring to something else entirely. Our definitions are not definitive, but since we all require a common ground in order to communicate we try to use them. While we try to make use of period terminology,  this can be  confusing as the same term is sometimes used for apparently (or definitely) different things even before the effects of time-shifted vocabulary applies. Our usage reflects our understanding of the actuality coupled with our decisions as to what might represent the common form of the item.

 Aiglettes: the metal ends often found on points.

Braes: men’s underwear, usually made of linen of a white or natural fabric color. Most of our information comes from illustrations, leaving us to speculate on the actual construction. At the beginning of our period they are long-legged and baggy. As the fourteenth century draws to a close, some become shorter-legged and tiger. Moving into the fifteenth century, some become quite brief. Whatever their style, they appear to have been held up by drawstrings (cording, linen tape or sprang). Some were held up by a belt called a brygyrdyl (a brae-girdle). You can select either method.

Cloke: typically made with a separate hood. Noble men are wearing side opening semi-circular clokes which buttoned over the right shoulder. Less fancy clokes may be sewn together at the shoulder and have a wider head opening, like the Bocksten man’s clok.. Women’s clokes open at the front. Commoners seem to rely of sewn closures or cords while gentry have fancier systems such as cord and buttem arrangements, brooches, and metal clasps of varying degrees of ostentation. Once again, wool is the material of choice and the colors are veggie dye colors. Medievally, clokes seem mostly to have been fowl weather gear. Folks needing to be active outside in cold weather seem to have favored more layers of outer garments with sleeves so their arms were free to move.

Coif: A close fitting linen cap that ties beneath the chin.

Cote: A men’s over-garment. Although it is not equivalent to a modern coat, a heavy weight version can serve like one. Cotes come in many cuts. Commons with pretensions and nobles often wear more fitted garments, usually padded for a fashionable silhouette. Houppelandes are coming into fashion for men.

Cotehardie: A particular cut for a woman’s fitted kirtle or gown or a man’s fitted tunic. We try to avoid using this term, as it tends to cause debate and confusion among costumers.

Doublet: A man’s under-garment, worn over the shirt. Usually made of two layers of fabric, this garment may or may not be padded as well. It provides the shaping form the extreme silhouette of fashion seem in the latter fourteenth century and the early fifteenth.

Footwear: Leather turn shoes and boots are the common form of footwear. Long pointed toes (poulaines) are worn by nobles in certain periods and entertainers. Footed hosen with leather soles seem to be an occassional substitute for shoes.

Girdle: A belt. Commoners’ belts plain or lightly decorated with cheap materials such as pewter, although the better off can have copper alloy fittings and mounts. Gentry belts can also be plain or lightly decorated, but the materials should be rich; silver or gilt fittings and mounts are reasonable. Gentry belts can also be quite rich and densely decorated. Wide belts with heavy mounts are a common choice for martial outfits starting in the third quarter of the four teeth century (the so-called “plaque belts”) and stay popular (wide stylistic differences) beyond 1415.

Gown: The outer layer of a woman’s or man’s outfit. Styles change pretty much constantly. The loose flowing gown often called a  houppelande shows up around the close of the fourteenth century.

Hats: Hats seem to be particularly prone to fashion and come in a wide variety of styles that range for knitted ones resembling modern watch caps to elaborate, high-crowned, brimmed ones of wool or fur felt. Gentry men’s hats are usually adorned by a hat jewel of suitable richness to indicate their status. feathers are another popular adornment for hats.

Headwraps: A woman’s head covering. These range from simple drapes to multi-piece wimples and veilings.  married women were expected to cover their hair and necks, although  his/her status women could go for elaborate hairdressing (often with nets, jeweled bands, and occasionally coronets).

Hood: Hoods are often worn by commoners and occasionally by gentry. Hoods for commoner women typically have buttons to close them up under under the chin. Men’s hoods are typically sewn closed at the throat. You want the face opening to be wide enough to get your head through, but not much wider than that. Bocksten man and the Herjolfnes finds offer patterning. Men, particularly in the latter part of the fourteenth century and into the fifteenth turn hoods bound up in various ways into hats. This practice eventually results in hats that superficially look like a hat fashioned from a hood but can not longer be unwound and used as a hood.

Hosen: Leg coverings. Men’s hosen are long, covering the whole leg, and are usually held up with brooches or points. Women’s hosen are shorter, coming to just above the knee, and are held up by garters. For men at the beginning of our period all hosen seem to have been separate legs with tops that extend upward toward the waist for attachment. In conversation, we refer to this style a “point” hosen. You may have heard them called chausses. Point hosen tie at a single or at most two points per leg. When the skirt lengths got short in the latter part of the fourteenth century, hosen with an extension that covered a man’s butt show up. We refer to these as “tailed” hosen. These are still separate legs but they use more points for attachment. When needing too be active, the rear ties are often shown undone, leaving the “tail” to hang down. At some point in the fifteenth century the two legs start being sewn together to form “joined” hosen.  At about that time, or shortly after, a flap gets added to front to cover the braes-exposing gap. Men, especially commoners, are sometime shown wearing a second pair of hosen, long or short, that is rolled and secured just below the knee (presumably with a garter). Commoner s are usually behind the fashion curve. Indeed, agricultural peasants and the poorest folks are often show with point hosen late in the fifteenth century. We usually use a pattern modified from a survival detailed in Norlund’s Buried Norsemen at Herjolfnes., which lacks a foot. Hosen may end in stirrups that leave the heel and fore foot free (“stirrup” hosen) or in feet like kids’ jammies. The Bocksten man’s hosen and several partial pieces from London as detailed in the Museum of London’s Textiles and Clothing offer styling.

Kirtle: a woman’s under-dress. It can be worn without a gown indoors or while working. It is cut fairly close to the body, with long, tight sleeves. The most closely fitted styles are reserved for the wealthy, as they are more tailored, require help in dressing, and restrict movement somewhat.

Pattens: “Overshoes” typical made with wooden soles and held on by leather straps. There is a shift in the styling circa 1400.

Points: Fabric or leather cords used to fasten clothing items together. their ends a re usually reinforced with aiglettes.

Pourpoint: A quilted doublet. Much of the sculptured silhouette of high fashion comes from this garment. It can be worn alone or under a gown.

Purse: A number of styles are in use. Everyone should have one to hold personal items. Women’s purses are usually cloth, often decorated or made from scraps of expensive patterned cloth and are worn suspended on a long cord from a belt, often between the kirtle and the gown. The suspension cord is separated from the doubled drawstrings that open and close the bag. The girdle purse is a safe style for men through the period of the war, although decoration details vary according to current fashion. Girdle purses seem to be typically made of leather.

Shift: A woman’s next-to-the-skin garment, usually made of linen. For the poorest women, this also serves as their kirtle, especially in summer. for everyone else this is the first of three layers of body garments. [NEED PATTERNING NOTE TO APPEND HERE] Shifts were apparently always white (or natural fabric color).

Shirt: A men’s next-to-the-skin garment, usually made of linen. We take our basic cutting pattern from the 13th century linen shirt (the St. Louis shirt) preserved at Notre Dame cathedral and documented in Cut My Cote by Dorothy K. Burnham. Note that the shirt as illustrated is actually inside-out. visual sources indicate a wide variety of seaming styles and placement of gores for fit. for most of our period the neck hole should be round and a close fit to the neck. Some have slits to allow a really close fit. Such slits could be fastening with a broach, but string ties and buttons seem to be a later ways to close that slit. Shirts were apparently always white (or natural fabric color).

Tunic: A commoner’s garment of loose fit. The tunic design we usually use is based the tunic documented in Bockstensmannen by Margareta Nockert. The tunic is of similar form to the shirt but is fuller in the skirt. The Bocksten man’s tunic uses more pieces than the Notre Dame shirt. The extra pieces are underarm gores and more gores in around the hem. The Bocksten man’s tunic is wool, and wool is the most likely fabric for this garment. The original is typical bog-recovered brown, but tunics might be dyed in any number of natural dye colors although red (from madder) and blue (from weld and possibly indigo) were popular. Except for the lowest classes, this style of garment falls out of fashion by the end of the fourteenth century.

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