Getting Started with Researching Medieval Clothing

How can one get started with researching medieval clothing? The available information comes from several sources:

Primary Sources

  • Extant Garments
  • Period artwork
  • Written records

Secondary Sources

  • Research books which cite their primary sources
  • Online blogs which cite primary sources
  • Other re-enactors who have cited primary sources

Artwork is the most abundant source and the best at tracking fast moving fashions. Extant garments are rare, but give invaluable insight into fabric and construction. Written records, although less published than the first two, also help complete the picture. A typical process for making a garment is to find a number of period artworks depicting a garment, picking one example as the main inspiration, then draw on patterns from the closest extant garments to guide construction. In essence, it should be made like the extant garment and look like the artwork when finished.

Marc Carlson’s Historical Clothing from Archaeological Finds: … khome.html
Maggie Forest’s study of extant C14th garments: … rments.pdf

Company of the Staple online manuscript links: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=10
Staple bibliography has several useful books: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=57
Particularly MOL Textiles and Clothing, Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince and Medieval Garments Reconstructed

Larsdatter has excellent manuscript images sorted by particular categories:

So now I’m going to research women’s hoods using these sources.


I’d like to get an idea about how they look first so I’m going to try and look at manuscript images rather than extant pieces in the first instance.


So I’ll try Larsdatter first.

These manuscript images are sorted by year so I just click open the ones in the 14th century. (I do 1376 so I pay more attention to images that are from 1350-1400 rather than early 14th century)

I do English so I want to pay particular attention to English, French or German manuscripts.

Okay Le Roman de la Rose fits the bill, 1365 French manuscript. (I confirmed this by going to the title page of the manuscript which gave me some information about this manuscript)

Right so from the three images here, (there are more if I go through the entire manuscript) but these are open hoods, with buttons. One looks like the edge where the buttons go has a lining but with the overall hood, we can see by the turn back that there doesn’t seem to be a lining. (or if there is, it’s the same colour).

So now I want to see if there are any extant examples.

Herjolfsnes Artifacts on Marc Carlson’s website.

Which has some very interesting information but probably a bit beyond what we want right now.

Another extant hood, from London

Alright, so now I have an idea about what I want this hood to look like.

What the Herjolfsnes extant pieces did tell me though is that these hoods should be wool. By own experience with wool hoods tells me that I want to softest piece of wool against my face possible. (Take a piece of wool and rub it on your cheeks. If it’s scratchy, don’t use that wool for your hood. Unless you choose to line it)

These are some pretty good tutorials about women hoods.


Okay so I need to look a bit more into how to sew the garment. This article includes instructions about how to make the self stuffing buttons.

(If I was searching just for headwear in general, and particularly for a more noble portrayal, I would also use and do a search for civilian 14th women portrayals for English, German and French effigies. But hoods don’t tend to turn up in effigies.)


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