Thanks for your encouraging remarks about the gown. maryf
commented about the undergown. I'll be honest, I don't know if German noble ladies wore undergowns as a matter of course.
The idea developed with milady Anne of Wokyngham's help, as she was the more knowledgeable of the two of us about 16th c. clothing, but she's the first to say she knows English, not German, clothes.
But there's a good argument based on her research. 16th c. English folk very reliably wear linen underclothes, and then two layers of clothing. The terminology isn't consistent, but 'kirtles' (underneath) and 'gowns' (over top) are used by the Tudor Tailor authors.
The kirtles tend to provide the support and shaping, the gowns provide lush layers to display. This convention goes back to previous periods, at least in England.
Looking at paintings, 99% of women wearing this style had a white underlayer, that showed up the lacing across the stomach. (There's one portrait where it's black.)
So what is the visible white bit? The options are:
- a chemise: in which case there's only one layer of gown providing support and shape, and the German ladies are exposing their tummies to the elements covered only with linen or silk.
This struck me as unlikely. For one thing, chemises are puffy and ruffly, and these ladies tums are uniformly smooth
, whereas the puffy and pleated parts of their chemises are clearly illustrated quite beautifully. If you wore an ordinary chemise under a gown that had an open space around the tum, surely it would puff out between the lacings?
- a kirtle or petticoat with a white bodice, possibly with the heavy cartridge-pleat skirts attached. Lady Anneke suggested this option to me, and it makes a lot of sense. A doublet over it, with the odd bust-band, would then be decorative, not supportive.
If I did this gown over, I think I might go this route - though then I'd have to find a way to keep the doublet from riding up, because it's cut quite short and snug.
- a kirtle or petticoat of any colour, with a white 'stomacher' pinned in - like mine. English ladies wore assorted parts of their gowns pinned together (stomachers, partlets, sleeves, skirts), so the pinning is quite plausible.
What clinched it for me is some paintings by Cranach featuring the woman caught in adultery, dated around 1540s. There are several, with the same basic composition, and the woman is always wearing a peach or vermilion gown that is unlaced, though the details vary - sometimes the angry crowd around her are in armour, sometimes in civilian clothing.
(Notes from the Met Museum say there are over 15 versions - must have been the hit of his corner of Germany.) Christ and the adulteress
, detail, Cranach elder, 1532 Same image
, full image
ETA: found one source, it's in the Met. Christ and the adulteress, Cranach the elder, 1540s
accession no. 1982.60.35
(small copy is in my scrapbook, but go look at the Met Museum site, you can zoom brilliantly
! Very cool).
The adulteress has presumeably been hustled straight from the offending bed, with no time to even lace up her gown.
Her chemise is, I think, showing as a ruffled layer across her bust, and then there's a white triangular space between the two sides of the gown, that has loose lacing over it. I'm not certain if the line around her neck is a dark necklace, or possibly a finished edge of an extremely fine translucent chemise or partlet, as fine and see-through as her veil.
But if that's the chemise, what's the ruffly bit over the boobs?
In the Met zoomed version, you can clearly see boobs through the ruffled shirt.
AND you can see that the white bit extends around her shoulders,
just short of the black edge of the outer gown.
(You can also see the beautiful delicate blackwork in her veil - it must have looked like it was just floating free over her face, unattached to anything, the linen is so fine.)
This white line, to me, suggests that the white bit between the two 'lapels' of the doublet isn't just chemise, but is a layer of gown, one that continues under the orange one. So increasingly, the white kirtle is looking like a good option.
This adulteress' gown doesn't seem to include a bust band - either styles had moved on from the Saxon princess era, or the lady was swept from her room before she could grab it. Not certain!
So: that's why I'm wearing an underdress for this outfit. YMMV.