Here’s an alternative look for you 15th-century geeks out there! I took the photos in 2018 but apparently put them in that “good to have” pile on the computer, and they were forgotten. This happens quite often for me…
Linen shift closest to the body, wool socks and leather shoes. Over the shift I wear the easy 15th century dress, here used as a middle layer/kirtle. I like to be able to use my clothes in different layers, and this dress is a perfect summer over dress, but also works as the middle layer once it gets colder.
The overdress is a wool houppelande, lined with silk and with openings in the sleeves. This style is popular by the 50s and 60s, and can be seen in Rogier van der Weydens paintings. I keep the dress closed with a broad belt with a bronze clasp; a copy from an original find. This is one of my favourite dresses, since it is comfortable to wear but looks fancy. It is quite heavy with the high-quality woollen cloth draping around my body, but hey- you have to give a little effort to fashion sometimes?
The temple braids and turban-looking great veil is perhaps a bit “simple” for the dress, and I could also pair it with elaborate headwear. But I really like this look since it is comfortable and, above all, I can manage it myself in 15 minutes by the mirror. If you want to see how I do them; I have a braid tutorial here and a paper on the 15th-century veils I use here.
If you want to research the 15th c yourself, feel free to use my Pinterest as a starting point! This fashionable period has much interesting things to offer!
There are many looks on headwear during the late 15th century. Everything from maiden hair hanging loose with soft waves, to several layers of linen veils wrapped around the head, with wimples or jewelry worn. There is both visible and hidden hairdos, fake hairpieces, caps, hairbands and circlets, as well as decorations such as pins, jewelry and braids.
In this post, I wanted to show you a few of my favourite looks and how to achieve them in simple ways.
This is a great veil, and it is simply a very long veil wrapped in layers about the head. The result gives you a turban, or if you prefer, a layered look with a loose end hanging. To keep the veil in place, add pins.
Fabric: thin linen 52*250 cm (or longer; up to 4 meters would be doable I think)
The short side should reach from forehead to neck, the long side wraps around your head in several layers. Cut out a square piece of fabric, and hem it around all sides with a small double folded or rolled hem. Use waxed linen thread, and whip stitch or tiny running stitches.
Put the long side over your head, drape the veil around your head and pin it at the neck (do not make a knot, that will be too bulky and doesn’t look right in the end). Wrap the veil several times around your head, and secure it with more dress pins. Alternatives; wear it on top of a cap, headband or hairband. Let the end hang loosely, over one shoulder.
You can also wrap the veil folded, to achieve a more smooth look. The “secret” with making the look hold and look nice? Practice, mostly. I like to wear a base, like a version of the Birgitta cap, and then pin the veil to this one. When I wrap the veil around my head, the layers will go a little different each time, to cover the whole head in a good way.
In this look, the layers are wrapped from behind and then from the ear, over the forehead and a little back, to achieve the V shape at the forehead. This looks need some more pins at the top of the head to stay in place.
Veil with sewn layers. This veil is an experiment to achieve the look seen on many paintings from the period, in very easy means. A more historically accurate way would probably be to use a very long great veil, or the “strip with sewn folds” with a veil on top. But if you want to look the 15th century part easy and fast; this is it!
Fabric: thin or medium-thin linen 64*250 cm
Cut out a square piece of fabric, and hem it around all sides with a small double folded or rolled hem. Use waxed linen thread, and whip stitching or tiny running stitches. Then measure and mark folds on one short side, as many as you would like (between 6-20 folds). Make the folds by hand, press them down, and sew them with running stitches. At the ends (the long sides of the veil) you can make the folds go together to add some shape to your piece.
Put the veil over your head with the folds at the forehead, and pin it at your neck. The veil should hang over the pin and hide it. Then twist the veil fabric around your head until you have used the whole length. Tuck the end in under some layers, and pin everything in place.
Strip with sewn folds
Fabric: thin linen 64*20 cm (64*30 cm for more folds)
This is made either to pin on a cap or fasten on your head with pins or ribbons at the neck. On top of it your wear one or more veils. A practical way to style your existing headwear into the 15th century style.
Cut out a square piece of fabric, and hem it around all sides with a small double folded or rolled hem. Use waxed linen thread, and whip stitching or tiny running stitches. Then measure and mark folds along the long side, as many as you would like and can fit (between 6-20 folds). Make the folds by hand, press them down, and sew them with running stitches. At the ends (the long sides of the veil) you can make the folds go together to add some shape to your piece. At the ends, you can make the folds go together to add some shape to your piece. Use two thin strips of linen or silk ribbon to fasten the piece at your neck, if you don’t want to pin it.
Here is the strip, pinned down on a cap, and covered with layers of veils.
I have been experimenting with some other veils too, but I’ll have to come back to them another time when I have put together my experience and drafted some patterns for you.