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Late Gothic Review


These gentlemen both wear houppelandes that exhibit new fashion trends of the 15th century. Both men have slashings in their sleeves. The man on the left has a practical/functional slashing through which his arm may pass, while the man on the right has a purely decorative slash.

The man on the left has a collar in the carcaille style (tall and standing), while the man on the right has turned the front edges back to create large revers that resemble lapels. He wears his houppelande open down center front, similar to a large overcoat. Both men belt their houppelandes at their natural waist. It becomes popular for the aristocracy to add padding to the shoulder and sleeve cap. These shoulder pads are called mahoitres.

Both men would have on at least one doublet over a chemise beneath their houppelandes. They would also have braies/drawers, full length hose, and a codpiece (a triangular pouch for the genitals attached to the front of full length hose). They would be wearing either pedules or shoes.

The man on the left wears a new chaperon with a roundlet (doughnut shaped pillow) inside. He also has a pouch suspended from his belt. This may be an alms purse.

Here we see a variety of doublets and cote-hardies. The term "doublet" begins to signify a short, fitted garment, usually worn in multiples (possibly one for warmth and 1-2 others of a more decoartive nature). The two men at the left and the second man from the right wear doublets The second man from the right is also wearing an open houppelande over his doublet.

A cote-hardie may be worn over these doublets. The two previously unmentioned men are presented in this manner. Cote-hardies are generally longer (usually featuring some sort of drop-waisted attached skirt or peplum). They generally feature controled fullness through the torso, and some sort of large decorative sleeve.

With the short doublet, hose is exposed for the entire length of the leg. If you look closely, you can see a codpiece on the man in the yellow hose. Hose comes in three varieties in this century. 1. footed, 2. with an attached leather sole (pedules), and 3. a footless variety with a stirrup style strap that passes under the foot.


The man in this painting wears a new outer garment for this century. It is called a huke and is constructed in similar manner as a tabard. It is seamed across the shoulders, hanging open on sides. However, there is generally more length and fullness in a huke than in a tabard. It was very often lined with fur, and therefore, worn for warmth and display of status. Sumptuary laws regulated the types of fur available for the clothing of the various classes.

The woman in this picture is an example of a rather bizarre fad of the 15th century. Low birth rates combined with the "Black Death" plague of the previous century brought a period of depopulation to this area. It became fashionable in the 15th century for women to appear pregnant. There is even evidence of women wearing abdominal pads and walking with their hips thrust foward in order to enhance this illusion. Houppelandes belted just below the bustline also added to the affect.

She wears a houppelande over a blue gown/kirtle/cote (chemise, hose, shoes underneath) and a variation of a horned reticulated headdress. The "horns" were created from small metal mesh cages named cauls. A caul could be created in any number of different shapes and are an important component in reticulared headdress of all shapes and sizes. The cauls fit over braided and coiled hair and pinned in place. A veil was then draped over top to conceal the rest of the hair.

This woman from the early 15th century displays many of the characteristics of the 14th century (for example, tippets, heraldry and the ram's horn hairstyle). This is more of a transitionary garment than one that is easily labeled as early or late Gothic.

The indicators here are subtle. The squared off neckline, the apparent complexity of construction (resulting in a very smooth, tailored look), and the rather long pointed (piked) shoes all set this outfit a bit more in the 15th century, rather than the 14th.

However, as you can see, many of the 14th century characteristics thrive well into the 15th century.

This woman is wearing a houppelande with its center front edges turned back into revers. It is belted under the bust. The created low "V" neck reaches to the belting. In the base of the "V" we see either a gown/kirtle underneath OR a modesty panel that buttons or laces into place. Either way, though necklines are lower than they have been before, modesty is maintained with minimum cleavage revealed.

She is also wearing a truncated hennin on her head. As with much of the headdress contraptions of this period, all hair is concealed. It is possible that she has shaved off or plucked out any hair that would have been left exposed. Even eyebrows were plucked to a very thin, faint line or eliminated altogether. A tall forehead was a treasured attribute. A fashionable woman would stop at nothing to acheive it!


This noble woman wears a rather large hennin with her houppelande. It was possible for these cone shaped headdresses to reach heights up to 36" (nobility only, of course). A veil was commonly laid over the hennin as seen here. It was also common for the veil to flow from just the very tip of the hennin.

Another indicator of her status is the fur that lines her houppelande. This is ermine-a luxurious white fur that had flexs of black in it (the black tip was found only on the tail of the ermine). Sumptuary laws regulated this fur to only be worn by the noble class.

Her houppelande is trained. It was possible for this train to be lifted and secured in a number of creative manners in order to protect the fur and to show off a precious privlege (the wearing of ermine).

This woman wears a variation of the horned style reticulated headdress. This painting was created late in the 15th century. Notice the center front of her houppelande and his doublet. The white in the painting is their chemises. This is an Italian trend that has made its way northward and will be a key identifies for the Italian Renaissance.

His necklace is most likely symbolic of his status and allegiances. These heavy gold necklaces are often referred to as orders.

This woman wears a truncated hennin and a houppelande with a wide "V" neckline revealing a gown/kirtle or modesty piece. The houppelande is heavily trimmed in ermine.

This lady wears a variation of the new chaperon over a white linen coif. We can see the front lacing of her gown/kirtle through the center front opening of her houppelande.

She is of a lower status than the previous ladies. The quality of the material in her attire and the lack of decoration as well as the context of the rest of the painting support this conclusion. The houppelande was a garment common to all classes.

The sideless gown (AKA surcote) is still very popular in this century. Very commonly the holes are so large that only a narrow strip attaches the skirt to the collar/shoulder area of the dress. Often this strip is stiffened in order to support the weight of the rather full skirt. When this happens it is given the name plastron.

This style is very popular with French royalty beginning during the late Romanesque period. It is still seen in the 15th century. The buttons seen here are really jeweled brooches pinned to the front of the plastron. They are purely decorative and do not function as buttons would.

These ladies wear heart-shaped reticulated headdresses. These were created using two large cauls on either side of the head. A bourrelet (A sausage-shaped cushion with wire inside that could be bent into a shape) was placed on top of the cauls. The internal structure of the bourrelet held it in the shape that you see here.

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