One of the most popular questions about female vintage costumes is “How many layers did they wear?”. Let’s find out. We will use examples from 1460-80s, but the basic layers were similar throughout the Medieval times. A 15th-century female attire wasn’t very complicated and pretentious – rather it was pretty, elegant, and feminine. And just look at these extraordinary headdresses!
Undergarments: linen chemise, woolen hose with braided garters, shoes. Hair is already tied up and braided.
Kirtle next: here a flat-fronted kirtle in silk damask, lined with silk, back lacing.
Spiral lacing at the back is chosen this time. Kirtle would have been worn on its own in a domestic environment – but rarely outside (for an upper-class lady that is).
Detachable sleeves could be pinned on or laced on (later option) for warmth or for a more complete domestic look.
Next layer: the gown. Here a Burgundian style. Black silk damask, with silk lining and rabbit fur trim. Different gowns could be worn with different kirtles for variety.
Bling next: a high born lady would be displaying her jewelry to show off her status.
Headdress: first a fillet in velvet – it keeps the hair away and is a secure base for the main headdress. The little loop is handy for re-adjusting the whole headgear. A linen coif could have been worn, too, or a hood/veil at home.
Truncated henin next – different styles of henins were worn, with different arrangements of the veils.
Same dress with a different henin and veil arrangement, as well as different jewelry.
Close-up of belt and rings.
Last thing – pattens! They protect the shoes from wet and muck. So, close-up of pattens.
A cloak or a mantle could be worn for colder conditions, too.
Winter and summer wear would differ – light fabrics for summer, heavier wools and additional layers for winter.
Here is a summer gown in light silk with silk kirtle.
Woolen kirtle and a veil. Kirtle fit and cut alone could support the bust quite well. For more support, linen bands were used.
And another intricate outfit.