Medieval Clothing Pages:

Articles and essays of interest to people interested in research, re-enactors, LARPers, historians and others: Make stuff, and enjoy wearing it!

All material is © 2000-2011 Cynthia Virtue.  See below for copyright issues .

Articles are in four groups: Hats & Hair - Clothing - Accessories -Guest Articles - Miscellanea - Why   Most of them are class handouts; some are descriptions of things I've made, which may help you if you want to make similar things. 

Hats & Hair


Illustration of braidingUpbraid your friends!  The basics of 3-strand and 4-strand braids.Man in tunic with giant needle (drawing)Basic Garb (1000-1300)- Men and women's costumes, hats, accessories; an overview and instructions for newcomers (class)
Picture of veil and crownHow to wear a veil, or a veil and circlet (or just a circlet) gracefully (1000-1300 or so)  Plus The Dreaded Muffin-Head EffectSchematic of gored tunicTunic Worksheet  (1000-1300) -- More specifics on the period cutting plan of the glorious T-Tunic -- properly cut, it's one of the most elegant garb choices. (class)
Medieval  man wearing a hatEasy Men's Hats - (1200-1470s; concentrated on the later range) Yup, even the men wore something on their heads.Drawing from the Devonshire Tapestries 1420; man and woman in houpsThe rotated-point, Circle-plan Houppelande (1390-1470)- an alternate to the 'just like a big dress' method. Pattern schematics and pictures of both men's and women's  houppelandes.
medieval man wearing a coifCoifs (1200 onwards)- More specifics for men and women. 1-piece and 3-piece.Houppelande made in the Devonshire styleConstruction of the Huge Green Devonshire Houppelande - 15 yards of 60" wide damask with a very wide circumference at the hem.
The "pork pie" or "coffee filter" type hat, medieval imageA 13th Century hat for women (1200s)-- What I call the "coffee filter hat" sometimes called a "toque," "fillet," or "porkpie hat."Bag sleeves on a medieval statue of a noblemanCautionary note about modern bag sleeve patterns (1390-1470) for houppelandes
Reconstruction from archeological itemWire circlet (1300s)wrapped with colored thread recreated from the Dress Accessories book.Some of the figures in the Philippe le bon paintingSadly,  the painting of Philip the Good, which shows people all in white -- is a later copy and thus not a good source. (Sometimes called "The White Wedding")
Man wearing a hood on his head sidewaysHow to be a Hoodlum (1300-1470)- The medieval hood for men and women.Fabric and a dogReal Medieval Fabric - as seen at the Chicago Institute of Art
Victorian image of woman in cylinder cauls

Crespinette cylinder cauls: very medieval or Victorian invention?   (1325-1375)

Detail of an extant dalmaticExtant clothing of the middle ages -- a compilation of inspiring photos from many sources of medieval garments and accessories which have survived to the present day.
Woman in cauls (photo)Quick 'n' Easy Cauls (1300-1470)- not a medieval construction technique, but produces a medieval look.Cotton upholstery fabric with medieval beastsModern fabric that looks like Medieval -- scans of fabric in my 'collection,' to help you in shopping.
Woodcut of a woman in a stuffed roll hat or bourreletWomen's Rolled (stuffed) Hats (1390-1470)- and variations thereon.  Other terms: bourrelet, padded roll, heart shaped henin.Man in red houp with dogs at feast.  Not directly related to this article, but a neat image.How to store heavy garments -- big houppelandes are often over ten pounds, and may not stay on your regular hangers, or may be distorted in odd ways by hanging.
Statue of a man in a stuffed hat or maybe a hood sidewaysMen's Rolled (stuffed) Hats (1390-1470)- and variations thereon. 

Complex Women's Hats (my favorite subject): (1400-1470)

Accessories that aren't hats

Reticulated hat on a hat standHow to make a Reticulated Headdress - Women's fancy wireframe construction.  Fairly advanced.1430, woman with bells on her beltJingle all the way: Adding bells to your garb (14th & 15th c.)
A heart-shaped hennin on a hat stand

My second fancy wireframe; heart-shaped.

Poulaines, krakows, pointy shoes of the middle agesPoor People's Poulaines (1400-1470)- Pointy shoes for everyone.
Drawing of veiling arrangement for butterfly heninArnolfini headdress, Truncated-cone henins, butterfly henins and other information about semi-rigid headresses and the veils that go with them.Precious Metal Clay: Order of the Pelican medallionMedievaloid Jewelry with PMC --  making your own jewelry from Precious Metal Clay.
Photo of a butterfly heninButterfly Hat construction basics - for the relatively new costumer.Three views of a girdlebook I madeGirdle books (1300-1450+)(or belt-books) I keep one of these for writing down people's names, and other things I shouldn't forget, like my lines in plays!  Very useful.
Drawing from the Roses Tapestry - butterfly henin

Hat construction materials: theories

Woman showing black band and ponytail. Medieval imageThe Little Black Band -- a possible method of keeping these hats attached.
Loop of dryer vent ready for upholstering into a hatThe Last Straw -- and the Last Dryer Vent -- using rigid materials for hats; men's & women's

Guest Articles hosted here for their authors

Archeological Sewing by Mistress Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn/Heather Rose Jones is now at her new website!

Mary of Hapsburg's Gown : cutting diagrams & measurements.  Also her husband Louis' outfit.


Essays, Trip Reports, and  Miscellanea

Modern Medieval Home Companion , ideas for decorating your living space in a medievaloid fashion.
Further Reading: A bibliography of useful books.

Do you want to know what constitutes a primary source for costuming ?  There's some misinformation out there, which this article hopes to correct.

Stuff from my Laurel ceremony , including a wonderful piece of calligraphy.  "Mistress of the Laurel" is one of the three highest SCA awards.  It's more or less an "arts knighthood."

A Birthday Pas d'Armes that I attended in the West, April 14, 2001

Using modern "costume" patterns (Simplicity, McCalls, etc) to make believable costumes.  Many are quite good, some are terrible.  Updated Feb '01

Approach modern versions of medieval stuff with caution; examples from 1947

Costumes for your pets!  Here are pictures of my cats in the "medieval" hats I have made for them.  Sicorro , Sicorro again, and Aricebo

Line drawing #1   and #2 done by me for newsletters. High percentage of interesting hats.  How surprising.

You might be interested in my bookmarks for other garb pages, museums, and misc. medieval stuff.

Oslo , Norway: how I spent my summer vacation, with special attention to medieval sites.

Ever notice that Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty is wearing a black-and-purple houppelande?  I made one that is similar for a friend.  We never got around to making the horned hat, alas.


Why these articles are here:

Most of these were written for folks interested in the High Middle Ages in Northern Europe; mostly England and France plus Burgundy.  Here's a map, (not on my site) of France in 1429

The SCA, as referenced, is The Society for Creative Anachronism , which aims to recreate various aspects of the Middle Ages. Some folks concentrate in costuming, some in cooking or brewing, some in fighting and other areas of interest. There are a lot of folks who don't concentrate on researching much at all. But it is a fun group. 

My name in the SCA is Cynthia du Pre Argent;  I'd be delighted to hear if you find this material useful, and still glad to hear if you think it needs improvement.

If you are new to reading things on the web, remember that most of the tiny pictures you see in these pages can be clicked on for larger versions.

And if you have no idea about fabric, much less costuming, but you'd like to know more, you might be interested in my Fabric for Bachelors series.

Copyright information:

All articles are original writing, and the contents reflect my many teachers, as well as a small amount of original thought.  Please contact me if you want to reproduce the articles in any way.  Permission will probably be granted, as long as you credit me, and it's not for profit.

Some courts think that a museum or other owner of a medieval (ie, out of normal copyright) item can not claim copyright, nor claim it on photographs of that item which do not add "art" to the representation of it.  The Bridgeman vs. Corel decision is one example.  Some museums disagree, in part because they need funding and this sort of thing is the only way to get it.

If you're curious about my web statistics , they're available.
All material © 2000-2011 Cynthia Virtue Email Author with comments Be sure to read the FAQ
Back to Virtue Ventures Main Page Read the Dedication

Visit my CafePress store!