Getting dressed in the 14th century was a pain in the ass

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Rough on the rib cage too.


Wool, you sexy devil you.


I think the 14th century would say the 21st century is lazy and unimaginative.


Getting dressed in the 14th century was certainly different from today - but the video does show two women getting fully dressed in a little over seven minutes (the first in less than three). Seems a little overboard to call it practically a full-time job, no? Meanwhile I’m over here spending 15 minutes trying to find the right jacket/pant combo.

I think the video does a good job of talking about the limitations of fabric technology and how that added to the burden. We take our modern fabrics for granted - they’re easy to put on and tailored well to our bodies. The video talks about women wearing extra layers as protection against the cold! I don’t think we can blame layering and needing assistance on the patriarchy alone. The Seamus doth protest too much, methinks.


Also, back in the dizz-ay, sumptuary laws limited a lot of ways one would normally signal ‘the peasants’ that you were rich. Colors, trimmings, etc., all those were exactly described and assigned to people of specific ranks. So what if you were the town’s official blacksmith and un-official banker? You dressed your wife in A LOT of fabric, and made sure everyone could tell she couldn’t tie her own shoes in that get-up, let alone try to do chores. If you were REALLY rich (but common), you’d play dress-up with your servants, too. Thus, the fancy footman’s or coachman’s uniform was invented.

Fast-forward: There’s a rumor that Beyonce has servants dress her, with one ‘stylist’ who helps her into two layers of Spanx, and then uses scissors to cut the buns free. Just a rumor…


Although I don’t practice it myself, I find that there is something morally appealing about nudism.


I think I would have died from itchiness.



Seamus, I am a daily checker for years and you are a very welcome addition as far as I’m concerned.
“I love your work!”
Jim Jones

LAYERS are important !!!

Dressing has required assistance for the wealthy through pretty much all history. Valets for men and ladies maids for women went well into the 20th century, and continue for the elite even now. This 14th century example is neat, but nothing compared to the 19th century!(


Yup, and the braies and chausses worn by men were presumably designed by some woman who never had to wear the stuff. Come on, Seamus, with the possible exception of the headdress, the clothing looks both practical and economic.


If getting dressed is a pain in the ass, you need a smaller butt plug.


Of all the inconveniences in a 14th century woman’s day, finding someone to help you lace up a kirtle was hardly going to rate. People didn’t really live alone at this time, except for religious recluses- it was too difficult and dangerous.
For re-enactment I love this era for clothing for women- warm, universally flattering, easy to wear. Give it a couple hundred years and you’ll start to see some real contrived and difficult stuff.


The only thing I missed with 5th Century style clothing was a fly in the trousers.


we must not lose sight of the fact that dates from pre-industrial era : schedules were relatively looser than today. We now use “merchant time”…


Is that a given? I’m not a historian at all, so who were the fashion mavens of the 14th century who decided what women should wear, and what were the penalties for wearing something else?


At this point in time most of the constraints were practical. As the vids says, the invention of curved seams was a game changer- for one thing, you no longer had to have a big, uncomfortable wad of fabric in places like, say, your armpit. Linen, wool, and leather were pretty much it unless you were filthy wealthy. Mechanical fasteners had to be removed and resewn every time the item was washed, because washing it involved getting it wet and whacking it with heavy wooden paddles- buttons and buckles don’t survive that kind of thing. The Nefarious Sadistic Fashion Designer doesn’t really show up for a couple hundred more years, when you get some reliable international trade and things like lace start to show up.


Man, no kidding. I changed clothes three times this morning and I still look like an idiot.


There weren’t any fashion mavens. Or else the ruling family and their dressmakers were the mavens, but not really. The following is from memory, others with more precise knowledge please correct me.

Ordinary people wore clothing patterns that remained largely unchanged for decades or centuries. Patterns were based on not wasting any cloth, since every scrap of fabric was made by hand by the women of the family, and nearly all cloth produced was used by the family to keep themselves clothed. For ordinary people, there was no such thing as fashion trends in clothing. Accessories, yes, those changed and mutated over time but cloth and clothes were just too labour intensive and too scarce.

(ETA: it’s been estimated that medieval women devoted something like 2/3 of their waking hours to spinning thread and making cloth. It’s very hard for modern people to appreciate just how transformative the spinning wheel and the automated loom were, or how grim life was before their invention. It’s not a coincidence that Mary Wollstonecraft wrote her feminist treatise shortly after England had converted to industrial cloth production.)

Excess cloth production, what little there was, went to the wealthy, who employed dressmakers. Patterns were based on flaunting your wealth by showing just how much excess fabric you could buy and how many seamstresses you could afford to pay. Another key signifier of wealth was dark bold colours, because getting that bolt of cloth to be a nice even and dark red or black took a lot of dye. White or pale colours were almost never worn by upper class people because the dying process was not expensive enough (period TV and movies almost always get this part wrong).

Fashion trends for the wealthy were set by the highest ranking nobles (and/or their dressmakers) - if the new king wore a short tunic that showed off his bright red tights, then everyone under the king who had the means had their dressmaker alter their wardrobe to feature a short tunic and bright tights. There was some variation - a noble who copied the king’s wardrobe too closely marked themselves as a slavish yes man, while one whose clothes were too different marked themselves as a dangerous radical. If the king was a boring dude who didn’t care much for fashion, then trends were set by a small handful of tastemaking nobles who did care and who were bold enough to wear something different than what the king wore. Fashion evolution could be a slow process of dressmakers making minor changes to last year’s patterns for the new season, or it could be a fast thing where the king met a foreigner, liked their tunic, has one made for himself, and suddenly the next year everyone is wearing imitations of the foreign tunic style.

(ETA: Replace king with queen for female fashions. If the queen was single (eg, Queen Elizabeth I), or married to a foreigner, then men of the court wore what tastemakers wore, and the tastemakers wore what the queen liked to see).

The dressmaking community obviously talked to each other, but the ones who made dresses for tastemaking nobles could also be very secretive - I’m not up on medieval literature, but literature from a few centuries later is full of incidents where someone goes to court, sees the new style, is humiliated by their unfashionable attire, goes home and tells their dressmaker to make them a new wardrobe stat. So in terms of trend setting, it was very much a matter of seeing what so and so was wearing and copying that. Forcing your courtiers to feel humiliated because they were not dressed like you and forcing them to redo their wardrobes every year or so was a way for the ruler to signify who had the power and who was in charge.

Nowadays fashion trends are mostly for women and male fashion is extremely conservative and evolves at a glacial pace. That’s a very recent development - in the era we’re talking about, wealthy men wore fashions that were just as mutable and decorative as that of wealthy women.