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!