Saturday, June 5, 2021

Women’s Fashion in the First Half of the 14th Century Part One by Rosemary Morris


To learn more about Rosemary's work please click on the cover above. 

In my novels Yvonne, Lady of Cassio, Volume One of The Lovages of Cassio, and in Grace, Lady of Cassio, Volume Two, which begins in 1331, (to be published in August 2021) I describe the characters clothes to help readers visualise them. As I write, I imagine wealthy ladies’ sumptuous garments. For example, “Powdered (sprinkled) with designs,” Rich fabrics powdered (patterned) or embroidered and enhanced with pearls.

Fashions changed. By 1330 garments were shaped to reveal instead of concealing women’s figures. Necklines became lower, long sleeves fitted tightly and were either stitched up or fastened with buttons from the elbow to the wrist. To render her vesture more perfect a silver needle was filled with thread of gold, and both her sleeves were closely sewed. Roman de la Rose.

I like this contemporary description. “These tournaments are attended by many ladies of the first rank and greatest beauty, but not always of the most untainted reputation. They are dressed in part-coloured tunics, one half being of one colour and the other half of another, with short hoods and liripipes which are wrapped around their heads like cords; their girdles are handsomely decorated with gold and silver and they wear short swords or daggers before them in pouchesa little below the navel; and thus habited they are mounted on the finest horses that can be procured and ornamented with the richest furniture.” Henry Knighton, 1348.


The kirtle (gown) was laced at the back or front to the waist, or a little lower, and worn with a girdle around the hips.

Over Garments

The long cote-hardie worn over the kirtle fitted closely. It was buttoned to below the waist or had a low neck and was pulled down over the head.


Surcoats with or without sleeves were worn over the kirtle. Unlike the cote-hardie they did not fit close to the body. They were either knee-length or ankle length, sometimes had slits up the sides and were worn without a girdle.

                                                                                    Outer Garments

 Short Pelissons lined with fur. Cloaks lined with fur had hoods and were worn to keep warm when travelling. Mantles Worn on ceremonial occasions were lined with expensive material, tied loosely with tasselled cords passed through jewelled attachments. Garde-Corps Women sometimes wrapped one around themselves over their inner garments.


  1. Clothes are always fascinating. Krrp writing

  2. I love it when authors do intensive research. The details, such as clothing, have the power to transport the reader to the period of history. Rosemary Morris does this very well.


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