During the summer months Roman garb becomes quite popular in Atlantia, where temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees. Typically made from natural-fiber fabrics like linen, silk, and light weight wool, these loose fitting garments are quite effective in keeping the wearer from becoming overheated.
Roman women, or matrons, wear three layers. The first layer is the tunica, made from a light-weight linen. This layer sits closest to the skin and linen is a natural choice for helping to wick sweat from the body and keep it cool. The second layer is the stola. This layer can be made from a slightly heavier linen than the tunica, silk, or a light-weight wool. I always make my stola from patterned silk. The final layer is the palla. The palla is usually 6-8 feet long and is worn draped around the body and as a head covering. My palla is made from wool gauze.
Roman garb is incredibly simple in its patterning and construction. Both the tunica and the stola consist of two rectangles of fabric, cut to the length of the wearer from shoulder to floor, sewn up the sides. The width of the fabric can vary greatly, but must be at least as wide as the wearer’s hips. These garments can then be pinned and fitted to create a variety of styles, using a type of pin called a fibula. The palla is simply a rectangle of fabric with the edges hemmed.
Within the last year I have grown quite fond of the Landsknecht and Kampfrau style of garb. In April of 2018, an event with a German theme – Night on the Rhine – was held in the nearby Barony of Lochmere. I decided to dress with the theme and make myself a Kampfrau dress, gollar, and wulsthaube.
For the dress, I used a pattern that I already owned and was previously used for a 16th Century Italian gown. I simply extended the waistline so that it would come several inches lower, ending at my true waist as opposed to just below my bust.
I then added guards to the bust and the skirt, which was then attached to the bust using rolled pleats.
Lady Margaret Lad is a 14th Century English Noblewoman. I would consider her to be my primary persona, though I often wear clothing from other countries and time periods.
When dressing as a 14th Century Englishwoman, I generally wear a front lacing cotehardie or gothic fitted dress (GFD for short); a belt, of which I have several styles; knee-high socks or stockings with garters; ankle high boots in the 14th century style; and a head covering of some sort.
I also have a variety of accessories that I like to wear. Accessories can really enhance the overall look of garb and are usually come at a nominal investment – I highly recommend them! Typically, I wear a variety of rings that are reproductions of pieces found in the 13th-14th centuries. I also have several annular and penannular brooches that I wear pinned to the chest/shoulder area of my gowns. For my belt, I like to wear a rosary or paternoster, which are found worn in illuminated manuscripts of that time period. I also have several bags that I carry so that I can hide my modern necessities 🙂
In regards to the picture above, I do want to note that tucking the ends of a dress into a belt in such a way is NOT a period fashion. Typically the dress is pulled up from the waist, with the excess fabric hanging over the belt. The next time I wear my dress in such a way, I will take a photograph to post here as an example.
Patterning a GFD
The gothic fitted dress is typically meant to be self supporting, which means that the wearer does not need any type of supportive undergarments for the top half of the dress. In order to achieve this look, patterns need to be custom-fitted to the individual. I have had the great fortune to attend several workshops in Northern Atlantia where custom fittings have taken place, and the principles of which have also been taught, by Dame Emma West and Mistress Drea di’ Pellegrini. As a result, I not only have my own custom pattern for this style of dress, but I can fit others as well.
I have offered fittings in the past at events and hope to do so again in the future.
In the meantime, here are a list of resources for patterning and making a gothic fitted dress that may be helpful: