So as most people know, I’ve been part of the SCA since I was about seven or eight. In that time I’ve seen a lot of stunning personas, ranging from Egyptian to Elizabethan. In that time, I thought I would be happy with a 15th century persona. I loved the look of the cotehardies, and how you could dress it up but keep it simple at the same time. However there was something missing. I couldn’t quite place it. I kept bouncing around time periods like I had a time machine. I loved every outfit I made, but in each one there was just that one piece that was missing. I thought for sure I would be timeless (and not in a good way) and began to get used to the idea. That was until I saw it. The perfect balance of what I was looking for in all my clothing.
Why this do you ask? What happened that made me say “yes this is it!” and jump up and down with glee?
All of these pictures were painted between the years 1504-1508. They all have a similar fit of a cotehardie, but fashion was heading towards a very different route, and that route’s name was Tudor. What I really love about this time is that deep down (and on the surface) I’ve always loved the look of Tudor, but did not have the patience or desire to make so many supportive garments.
With tudor there are the stiffened bodices, the farthingale, the two hours of dressing, and difficulty dressing alone. The pictures above definitely have the characteristics of tudor (the square necklines and large sleeves) but a fit similar to that of a cotehardie. Also around this time the farthingale was not widespread around England, which means that the skirts are so voluminous from the underdress and pleating, not much more.
It can be seen from the roundness of the chest in these pictures as well that stiffening was kept to a minimum, which means my machine doesn’t have to cry every time I try to stick two or three layers of canvas and/or denim like material through it. Another plus? the head coverings. I have very short hair and my under layers are shaved. This is not very medieval looking, so whenever I look at paintings, I try to take hair coverings into account. The fashion of the time for the very early 1500s works well for this, with the combination of long veil, and very little visible hair.
To me though, one of the most important reasons is that it can be simple and easy to wear every day, or it can be dressed up with brocades, furs, luxurious trims, incredible head coverings, and bling as far as the eye can see. I like the variability of it, and for someone like me who likes to make all the things, this is an important thing to factor in. Now that I have narrowed it down, I am starting to plan my first outfit for it, and can’t wait to show it off!