by admin on March 30, 2011

medieval dress

modern layerings

by now you have heard about esme’s ambivalent relationship with layering (probably shared by a large portion of the female population).  on the one hand, esme loves the romance of multiple flowey layers, the temperature regulating possibilties, the juxtaposition of shapes, textures and colors.  on the other hand, she fears the bag-lady look, and does not want to spend her time taking things on and off every time she goes in or out her door!

come to find out that today’s layering finds in roots in medieval dress.  the standard outfit for women throughout the middle ages consisted of  at least 3 layers.  the first layer passed for underwear, and was called a chemise.  this garment was  a loose, nightgown-like thing made of linen, often with fitted sleeves.  the wealthy placed elaborate embroidery at the neck, sleeves, and hem.  the idea of the chemise was to protect the body from outer clothing, to protect the clothing from the body, and to add a layer of warmth (important in chilly medieval castles!).  the chemise (rather like a modern camisole) was meant to show beneath the outer gowns.

next would be be a colorful gown.  sleeves would be either wide enough or short enough to reveal the sleeves of the chemise.  in some regions/times a second gown was worn atop the first.  this might be side-less or sleeveless, again to reveal both the first gown and the chemise.  finally, various kinds of capes were worn outdoors.  the wealthy might have silk velvet lined with ermine or other warm and sought-after fur.

take a look around you and see if you can find echoes of medieval layering in the modern world—esme certainly has!




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