Clothes and why I hate them

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Trivialities, rants & other ephemera

I wear clothes. I like nice clothes. I have an impressive collection of jeans and t-shirts and a really cool dress for wearing to weddings. So I may have misled you a little with the post title. I don’t ‘hate’ clothes. I just hate having to talk about them. I hate even more having to write about them. I want to say: “She’s wearing a dress, ok? And it’s green!” or “He had this kind of doublety thing on and a really neat hat, all wrapped in this sort of velvety furry thing, wotchacallit, cloak? Something like that.” But I can’t possibly hope to get away with that in a zillion years, so I’ve had to do something about it. So, I bought a book. It came highly recommended by some re-enactor friends, who like to get things perfect. It’s called The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant and it’s pretty cool! It has pictures and patterns and all kinds of stuff. Not that I plan on making any of these clothes myself. The only quibble I have (and it’s not a reasonable quibble by any stretch of imagination) is that it’s, well, medieval. What I really want is a book packed with stuff specifically about the 15th century, but I’m not going to complain, mainly because of this:

I have fallen in love with men in chaperons. The right style on the right head, and that is seriously sexy.

But that’s beside the point and probably more than you need to know.

My eyes start to cross when I come upon minute descriptions of clothes in historical fiction. Other readers love them, so this is no criticism of those writers. It’s me, and my fashion blindness, and my inability to translate “He wore a doublet of fine blue velvet embroidered with periwinkles, cut close to his body, at the neck a small ruffle of linen. The sleeves were slashed to reveal his undershirt, which was of the newer style &c &c &c’ into any kind of meaningful picture. My fault, entirely. i mean, you could describe that chaperon to me and I’d be all, What? Around his where? And what the hell’s a liripipe when it’s at home?

So you see my dilemma. I have to deal with 15th century clothes by walking a fine line between what I want to write (and what I’d want to read) and what other people might appreciate. There will be no ‘down to the last seed pearl’ stuff, that’s a rock solid promise. But, with my new book, I at least have some clue how various articles of clothing were made and worn. So when Alice Fitzhugh dismisses her husband’s body servant (as she regularly does) so she can sensually undress him all by herself, I’ll know how she goes about it. And it might turn out to be a little less sexy than I’d hoped. So, check out the book and make sure you turn to p195. Maybe try turning your hand to making one for the special someone in your life. Definitely the perfect gift for the man who has everything!

  1. I’m so glad I’m not alone in glazing over at the minute details of clothing. It means nothing to me. Frocks/shirts/trousers I can deal with; any more than that and I’m lost. I could probably learn, but I just don’ care.

  2. bluffkinghal says:

    LOL! I can imagine it makes no sense to some people. I have read so many Georgette Heyer’s that I can identify Georgian clothing, but everything else is all the same to me.

  3. Celia Parker says:

    If Alice Fitzhugh has any sense she’ll keep the body servant around long enough to deal with all those fiddly points (is that right? Thingies that hold a chap’s hose up?) first. And tell the b.s. to wipe that smirk off his face before he exits the chamber.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Once the hose are off, what is there left for Alice to sensuously remove? Though I have the feeling that those two could make a baby fully clothed and in different counties!

  4. sonetka says:

    I spent an embarrassingly large part of my twenties under the impression that a doublet was the same thing as a ruff, which led to some really strange mental images when reading. I’m pretty similar in not knowing much about clothing beyond (1) whether I like it (2) what colour it is. Thank God for Herbert Norris, is all I can say.

    Oh, and the chaperon is fantastic! Some up-and-coming fashion designer needs to bring it back, though I’m pretty sure my husband would only wear one if it was part of a ransom demand or something similar.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi Sonetka. I’m all for the return of the chaperon! I suspect my husband’s feelings about it would be close to yours, though.

      • sonetka says:

        In fairness, I’d have a hard time agreeing to a gable hood or something similar — getting used to that weight on your head would be awkward. Periwigs, however, confer so much automatic gravitas that I can see politicians trying to bring them back :).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s