Sunday, June 26, 2016

Old Garb Update - Gold Wool Dress

Every so often, I take a look at old garb that I don't wear as much as I thought I would to see if I can make it suitable again. Recently, I thought I would go through that effort with my Dark Colored wool cote, but when I tried it on, I discovered that my body had changed enough that it actually fit better than it did when I made it. The only issue was that I'd placed the gores way too low. The easy fix there is that I always girdle it if I'm wearing it as my outer layer.

In the case of my gold wool Grande Chroniques gown, however, the re-try wasn't remotely as successful. I think I was originally enamored with the idea of the style, but I've come to realize that I'm way more comfortable in the townswoman or lower middle class styles than anything that could be considered upper class. Not only that, but I've learned a whole heck of a lot about patterning since I made the dress, and it just didn't feel comfortable or flattering.

The original Grande Chroniques dress
The first issue I was seeing in the mirror, beyond the impracticality of the style for myself, was the too-low gores. There's a pretty clear pattern of incrementally raising the front center gore of my dresses when you lay them out side-by-side in chronological order. The gore point on this gown is placed right about at my belly button, rather than higher up at the point in which my stomach is actually the largest. (I have a B-shaped belly.) The effect was that the skirt's drape was based off the wrong point, and the waist area just looked weirdly tight.

The other issue is that the neckline was a bit too tight. I hadn't yet reached the point of daring to remove the support across the shoulders (that point happened with my Red Rose dress), so the neckline wasn't even close to flattering, nor was it particularly close to period. The plus about the neckline, though, was that it was the first time I used a tape to face the neckline. It wasn't actually needed, though, and made the neckline bulky.

Back before I had an appreciation for worsted and flannel wool, thick, plushy wool like this dress felt really neat to have. But in full gown format, it isn't comfortable most of the year (especially that high on my neck). Which only added to the reasons why I never reached for it.

So what to do instead?

For something like this, I feel okay with looking at styles outside my focus, as long as I can see how they might be worked into my wardrobe. It does me no good to modify a dress I don't wear into a different garment I won't wear. Some of the better examples of what I decided to do are found later in the 15th century, but through my recent research, I have also found similar examples in the early 15th century. Which is fantastic.

The style I'm talking about is a sleeveless over-garment that may have served the function of an apron or was added to conceal front lacing on the dress underneath. Later, it was shown being worn on its own directly over the chemise. It only appears on lower class women or girls. The best example, and greatest inspiration for me was this image from the Peasant Dance scene in The Book of Hours of Charles d'Angouleme from the last quarter of the 15th century.

Closer to my period, though, we find these two examples below, both from The Comedies of Terrence. In these cases, the apron garments are worn over colored cottes, and are belted so that the skirts can be hiked up. (Now, before you get on me about it, I realize the one image could be evidence of pinned sleeves, but what I'm going on here is that the color change on the sleeves occurs so high on the sleeve, it's hard to make an argument that the yellow garment has any sleeves.)

In Le Decameron of circa 1432, we see this idea again in this pair of sisters wearing sleeveless aprons. Here, since they are white, it's very clear that they are not fashionable pieces. I do also have to point out, however, than these are girls, not women, and the apron dresses may be some form of medieval uniform for young girls. Convents have long used such conventions for their youthful charges.

The reasons I felt like this garment might be a good fit are because making the adjustments will allow me to correct the neckline, remove the fancy sleeves, and shift the dress into a lower class garment.

And now I have a layering garment that still has a bit of character (like the original dress), but can extend the versatility of some of my cottes. Win-win.

More silly photos of me with my morning coffee in the re-worked dress can be seen over on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. This is brilliant, it was so clever of you to make your dress over into something you'd get more use out of. I'm going to shamelessly copy you, this seems like most useful garment.

    Thank you for the inclusion of the historical references in your blog posts, it's really helpful.