The Borgias avaThe Borgias is a historical-fiction drama TV series that was on the screens in 2011-2013. And don’t mind this show being 10 years old – it’s still spectacular, especially regarding the movie costumes. But, as usual with modern near historical films, the apparel of the characters isn’t fully period-accurate. Let’s look at The Borgias underwear pieces in this post and find out if they’re the real deal or badly made modern stylizations.

The article is based on the video by Natalya Skornyakova: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX3YAE_owi0

The costume designer of The Borgias series was Gabriella Pescucci. And one of the wardrobe team was famous Luca Costigliolo, the co-author of 17th-Century Men's Dress Patterns and Seventeenth-Century Women's Dress Patterns books. So, a lot of The Borgias costume features are historically accurate and very true. But not all of them. Let’s find out the accuracies and inaccuracies of The Borgias underpinnings.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

The Borgia was an infamous Spanish-Aragonese noble family that gained power in Europe in the 15th-16th century, during the Italian Renaissance. So, in the TV show, we’re talking about this particular period.


Chemise

At the time, both men and women wore chemises as an obligatory item of the wardrobe. No outer garments were put close to the skin, without a linen or cotton shirt.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

Although, the cut of male shirts in The Borgias isn’t always accurate for the 15th century. Some of the chemises are open in the front and have a number of ties to close the opening. But until the end of the 19th century, there were no such cuts, all of the shirts were put on over the head and had only small openings.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

This is how men’s chemises really looked like.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

At the same time, most of the shirts are fine. They have either a short front slit or a slit on the shoulder and are fastened there.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

The collar is sometimes adorned with a little embroidery, which was a typical thing for 15th-century noblemen’s chemises. This trend became popular throughout Europe in the 1400s.

Ladies’ chemises are also easily found in The Borgias series. In daily life, chemises were seen peeking at the neckline and through the slits in the sleeves (another widespread trend that appeared closer to the end of the 15th – beginning of the 16th century).

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

We have some good views of chemises used as a nightgown.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

But this particular shirt is obviously made from chiffon or some other modern fabric, while 15th-century chemises were usually sewn from fine linen or cotton, even the high-class and royal ones.

A richly adorned chemise was used for intimate purposes, like contemporary lace lingerie. But the chemise had to be there – no bra and panties were invented yet.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

Short braies or bracca

Men wore underpants called “braies” in the medieval and Renaissance period. There were different variations of these undergarments, different lengths, etc. The design of braies closest to modern male lingerie was called “short braies” or “bracca” in Italy. We see such underwear on men in the scenes in Neapolitan baths.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

And we should say these bracca are rather accurate. They’re made from white linen and tied in the front.

By the way, we can find no female panties in The Borgias show – thank you, costume designers, because women didn’t use such underwear in the 15th century.


Stockings

Instead, we see a lot of women’s stockings in this series. They’re much closer to the real deal than in some other historical movies – no transparent nylon-like stockings – but still, stockings in The Borgias aren’t fully accurate.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

In the 15th century, women used thin woolen stockings, sewn and not knitted. And the garters were tied under the knee, not above.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

Like these modern replicas.

 

Inaccuracies in show costume underwear of The Borgias series

 

To be continued…

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