Tag Archives: historical clothing

Armor Makes the Man Part 2

This is the 2nd install in the series on Armor to check out the first install please go Armor Makes the Man part 1

The various parts of armor can border on insane, each era and each country having their own little quirks in what they used and how it was used. Some would have three pieces protecting the arm while others just one. To keep it simple and avoid too much confusion I have only added the basic pieces I am also including at the end a link to site with tons of information:

So working from the top of the head down…

The Helmet: Worn on the head, usually had a visor.

The Paldrons: Were the pieces that protected the shoulders and arms

The Breastplate/ Backplate: Used to protect the Chest and back.

The Faulds: Ring like pieces that protected the areas on the chest that weren’t protected by pieces of armor. Hips, lower back, stomach.

The gauntlet: Protects the hands and wrists.

The Cuisses: Protects the thighs

The Poleyns: protects the Knees

The Greaves: Protects the calves and ankles

The Sabatons: protects the feet.

The Spurs: Added last and used to get that horse moving.

For more details information I suggest the Pictorial Glossary of Armor Terms

"Pieces of Armor"

Pieces of Armor.

Happy Writing.


Where did that muse go…

So I have to admit that this week, I have a case of major writers block. Not only with my Novel writing but also with my blog. Nothing seemed interesting nothing seemed to flow and nothing and I mean nothing seemed to fill this sheet of paper with ideas.

I guess this week for me my muse started celebrating St Patty’s day early and had a pint to many so forgot where to find me. I can except that I suppose we all need a vacation now and then. But it really would have been nice if she had left me a replacement for the week so that I could have accomplished something. I have sat at this computer day after day and walked away feeling confused and frustrated.

So what did I do about it? I sat down with a few of my favorite Historical Writers and hoped that that would bring the muse out? IT DIDN’T but I did enjoy rediscovering why I love Historical romances so much.

First, there is innocence about them, 99% of the time the heroine is innocent. I love the awakening that happens in Historicals, the way the Rake or Rogue takes there time bringing out the inner temptress in her. I write erotica this is my way of getting away.

Second, the Hero is usually larger then life the supreme Alpha male in need of a strong woman (He just doesn’t know it yet)

Third, I am a sucker for History.(Not that anyone who has read one of my blogs would be surprised by this)

So now I think I will curl up with a few new authors I have been meaning to read Like April Dawn, and hope there muse will take over for mine.

Happy St. Patty’s day to all and if someone sees my muse please tell her to lay off the Green Beer and come home.

Miss Independent…

Is your heroine a woman a head of her time? Or is she on the cusp of something great. Most of us want strong women as our characters but when and how do they fit through history. Until Modern times and with that I mean to about the 1970’s you can almost follow the amount of power and independence women had but the hem of their skirts.

Don’t believe me?

Ok through most of history woman have had very little power. Yes there were the exceptions Elizabeth and Victoria being very powerful queens for their time. Yet they had to fight for that power tooth and nail. And their skirts dragged the ground. (I am placing most of this in the time frame of the middle ages on,)

In the late 1860’s ,when women gained the right to vote in England only if there were no men in the family to do so, we saw the brief rise in the hem line. Not in evening wear, but some day wear was now over the ankle. I know…scandalous.

By the 1920 the hem line has been slowly rising. Many women still wear longer gowns but it is considered fashionable and acceptable to wear the dresses with higher hemlines. The hemline peaks at the mid calf until the time the woman of America get their vote in August 1920 catapulting the hemline above the knee.

The great depression brought an end to the flapper dresses moving the hemline back under the knee. It also was a step back for women from the freedom they had felt in the 20’s. When World War 2 happened women out of necessity came out of their dresses and into pants to work in the factories. Women were earning a paycheck and supporting the war effort at home. When not at work women some women remained in pants but those who preferred Skirts found their hem line back up to the knee.

When the men returned from war women came out of pants and back into their skirts. The image of the perfect 50’s housewife may come to mind. Most skirts hemlines fell back to mid calf as women lost jobs and went back into the kitchen. Again women lost a great deal of their independence in the process.

In the 1960’s everything changed the Pill was FDA approved, though it was illegal to use in some states. Women took a huge step into gaining a true independence. The miniskirt was created.

The hem has fallen and risen since then but over all Women had maintained there independent foot hold. We still fight against glass ceiling and still have battles to be won but we can now dictate our own hem line.

Although women’s power suits today do usually involve a short skirt, just a thought.

Oh no, the Codpiece

Okay it’s the boys turn and what could possible sillier than the codpiece. Yikes. Even the name sounds bad. But in fact codpiece means nothing more than sac or pouch. Until Henry the Eight got his hands on it or should I say other parts in it, the codpiece was actually one of the biggest innovations in men’s tailored fashions to come along.

The codpiece was simply a triangular sack that was placed in front of the man leggings to afford privacy. You see until this point in history men’s leggings afforded very little privacy the legs came up occasionally was sewn in the back and laced in the front or attached to a belt.

This was all fine and dandy when the Doublet (the top jacket men wore) was long and no one could see anything above the man’s knees. When the Doublet hem shortened with fashion the men became exposed. So the codpiece was born.

It gained size and ornamentation due to King Henry then lost its popularity with his Daughter Elizabeth’s reign. With King Henry the codpiece went from being a merely functional piece of fabric, usually several layers thick, stitched to give some support, to being large enough to carry small weapons and Jewels in. Very possibly this is why the man’s genitals are now referred to as the “Family Jewels”.

Although the codpiece was popular through out Europe it was condemned by the church and by the 1570’s almost completely disappears. Most likely Queen Elizabeth’s distain for masculinity and the improvements made to tailoring helped.

What is the silliest fashion statement you have ever seen? I would love to hear from you.

Paniers, Farthingales and Hoop skirts oh my…

So last week I talked a little about the corset. Which I think most people would be hard pressed to not acknowledge is a very if not the most important piece to creating the right line for any historical period. But it’s the layers and layers that it takes to create the whole picture that makes the silhouette.

Through the ages the ideal image has changed drastically and with it women have taken it upon themselves to go to major extremes to look pleasing to the opposite sex. These are the silhouette altering items that changed the lower half of the body.

So let’s get ready to go to the ball.

The items we are going to chat about today are, the Hip roll, Bum roll, farthingales, Paniers, hoop skirts and bustles were all worn over the pantaloons and most under a petticoat a few over the petticoats.

Hip rolls and Bum rolls were inexpensive ways to alter the hips making them look larger (larger hips equated to higher fertility), popular in the cavalier and restoration times and the times following the plagues. These items looked like a stuffed ‘C’ or large neck pillows. The would tie to the waist and could be work over or under the petticoat. It was common enough that even the lower classed adopted this look. (See Three Musketeers (1993), or Restoration)

Farthingales and later the larger cartwheel farthingales, were made popular by queen Elizabeth the first became popular while her father Henry the 8th was still alive. It was a cone shaped stiff underskirt, small at the waist and large at the ankles. Sitting in this skirt was virtually impossible and stools were sometime placed under the skirt to allow the wearer to sit, doubtful anyone would have noticed they were sitting as the item could have stood on its own. This item sometimes required stirrups to hold it up. (see Elizabeth, the Other Boleyn Sister)

Later the cartwheel farthingale came into fashion giving the wearer the appearance she actually had a table under skirts. This look became popular later in Elizabeth’s reign. Most people would recognize the image of her in the white pearl gown. The farthingale would be worn over the pantaloons and under a specially crafted petticoat. (See Elizabeth the Golden Age)

Paniers or Pocket Hoops give the look that he woman’s hips are significantly larger then they really are this look was made popular in the early Georgian time before the French revolution.. These items were usually made out of metal but could for lighter summer use be made of wooden reeds. Doors and Furniture had to made wider to accommodate the hip distance and later the panniers became so large the hinges were added to allow women to lift to go through doors then drop once in side. They did have the advantage that it allowed storage in the Pocket hoops for items the woman didn’t wish to carry. (See Dangerous Liaisons or Scarlet Pimpernel)

Hoop skirts made most famous by Scarlet were truly death traps and only worn for a short period in time. Most likely not worn for the extent that Hollywood would have us believe and certainly not on the plantations as its become popular. Some historians believe the hoop skirt only made it’s appearance for a mere one season, soon the round hoop skirt started to become elliptical moving us into the next period. (See Gone with the Wind or A Christmas Carol)

Finally the bustle which made women’s bottoms look large, at one time making it look almost like a horses rump. This made very popular during the Victorian area,. This metal contraption made it virtually impossible to sit back in any seat, and creating or emphasizing the belief that a real lady only sat on the edge of her seat. When researching the bustle knowing the exact time can make a difference the Bustle started small then jumped to being huge before settling for many years between the first two. (See Age of Innocence or The ideal Husband)

All different times made famous by a particular figure altering item. Most were heavy and almost all cumbersome, but it was a price women in there times were all prepared to pay for the ability to attracted a mate.

Dominique Eastwick