My WebCT | Help | Log out

Costume History
Home Page Show Course Menu in a Frame Discussion Discussions Mail Mail Calendar Calendar
You are currently on: Silhouette and Summary page

Middle Gothic

Ca. 1325 - 1425
Russell, Douglas Costume History and Style; chapter 9, pp. 139-156


          The spare, draped lines of clothing of the High Gothic Period were transformed into slim, closefitting garments by the second quarter of the fourteenth century, with much stress on or­namentation, especially in the lacy effects placed along the edges of garments. Elegant, graceful movement based on an S-curved line (created by the pregnant stance admired by women as a symbolic compliment to the preg­nant Virgin) dominated the movement of both men and women, and such movement en­hanced the artificial elegance of clothing.

          The basic male garment now shifted from the loose-fitting cote and surcote to the close­fitting tunic to the hips known as the cotehardie, which was often coupled with a hood and collar with richly scalloped edges. This effect, known as dagging or foliation, became dominant during this period and is sharply reminiscent of the crocket effects in Gothic architectural decora­tion. Often the male cotehardie had elbow cuffs known as tippets that also often flared into folia­tions, as did the bottom of the cotehardie at the top of the thigh. During the reign of Richard II, a voluminous robe known as the houppelande was added to this ensemble. It had great trailing bell sleeves and a high collar, with rich foliated ef­fects on the edges of the great sleeves and along the slits at the sides that accommodated the great strides of wearer movement necessary to make these robes look effective. A fantastic headdress, or chaperon, was also worn-the hood had the face opening placed around the head, the dagged edges of the collar fell down one side, and the long tail, or liripipe, of the hood was wrapped around the head and then draped over one shoulder. This exotic, almost Eastern look fully supported the fairy-tale im­agery prevalent in the arts of this period. Hose and shoes changed little except that the toes of the soft, slipper-shoes grew long points which, though making walking difficult, added to the spiky elegance of the entire male ensemble.



          This period saw the flowering into architectural decoration, manuscript ornamentation, and fashion display of all those elements of creative fantasy released when the spiritual, otherworldly values of the High Gothic began to wane. Fashion truly moved, as did architecture, from decorative to flamboyant, and the costume mirrored the profusion of tracery, crockets, and finials found in the architecture and repeated in fanciful headdresses and foliated and dagged edges of garments. It was an age of daring, dash, and flare in costume in which the large gesture, the sweeping movement, the serpentine curve of the body carried a message of self-conscious artificiality and escape from the restraints of earthly reality. To look at the fashions of the time, one would never guess the nature of the great events of this period: the Hundred Years’ War, the Great Plague, and the miserable living conditions surrounding the great noble castles.

Glossary  |  Bibliography  |  Vocabulary  |  Video Clips  |  Content Menu