English costume 1470 to 1500

Just a very quick post showing images of  English costume during this transitional period .It’s hard to accurately date some images but unlike the later Tudor era, costume was at this stage more static  and changes in style were less rapid so that a period of less than three years either way is rarely as important.It should also be born  in mind that there was not an instant transition from one style to another by everyone .


Briefly however I would suggest  a Henin ,its the definitive headdress of the medieval era and instantly recognisable .Apart from the headdress common traits are fur trimming at neck and cuffs,high-waisted gowns.

henin gown In damask or velvet.Dont be tempted to use modern crushed velvet ,satin or floaty silk.Most colours are acceptable but people tend to assume black,red ,pale blue and gold are accurate.

leah blue gownIts important if you can to recreate at least two layers as this much more than detailing gives and impression of accuracy,if you contrast my blue “costume” gown above with the red damask replica you will see that the Damask gown looks much more historically correct.

Medieval gowns didn’t have corsets  or stays under them.Support for the bust may have been with a modern bra style garment as one has been discovered dating to the medieval era  but was more  probably  provided by some tightly tailored undergown in the style of the moy gown which supported the bust ,uplift bras and corsets should therefore be avoided.A T shirt with a bust support panel gives the nearest modern equivalent .Its essential to wear some long layer under any gown or the gown will not fall properly or move properly .A modern strappy evening gown or a evening /prom skirt would work quite well.

I will do a post on how to make “Faux medieval garmentsincluding a Henin  in the next few weeks)

.For men long loose gowns and Henry Tudor style hats.


I also feel that if the costumes are for wearing in a context were accuracy is less important than perceived accuracy then some account of popular recreations or art should be considered.Its possibly more important in such cases that people believe you have recreated the era than that you do recreate it yet give the appearance you have not.


Mnay people may have ideas based on illustrations from books of hours which are often the source of movie costumes

374px-Les_Très_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_avrilThese are actually much too early but elements such as dragged sleeves or butterfly headdresses could be added to a costume without  doing too much violence to accuracy.What should be avoid however are very much earlier styles or those based on pre raphelite or movie images,where the cut and function is completely at odds

medieval gown 2

If you prefer to be striclty accurate I have complied a slection of original items and medieval images

First extant garments or fragments of garments

The Moy Gown

This was found on a “bog body” from Ireland ,unfortunately it has never been accurately dated but costumers have assigned a date between 1380 and 1500 ,this would probably have been outer wear  for lower classes and partial outwear  for the upper classes  with thwe gown peeping out from under a surcoat or overgown . By the 1500  it would form the base layer for the more complex styles.Its a cotehardie and they are incredibly difficult to make and require good quality fabric.This garment is visible on many tapestries ,tombs etc but a 1490s example can be seen here

virgin mary pol 1490

The other very famous extant gowns are in one case  slightly earlier andin the other  slightly later but both show elements seen in gowns of the era and are particularly useful for fabric references

The golden gown of Uppsala .Queen Margret’s burial gown approx date 1410

queen margrets gown


golden gown long

This  is very similar in appearance to the Moy gown and may be useful for considering the cut of under layers but is especially useful as a fabric source.Its not acceptable as an outer layer as its too low waisted .

The gown of Mary of Habsburg 1520

mary of hapsberg gown 1520While this seems initially far too late the style of the gown and its cuffs are clearly very similar to those of late medieval /early Tudor portraits and it can be useful for construction tips and valuable as a source of fabrics likely to be used in earlier gowns.Close ups of the gown can be found here


The very common gown for both male and females throughout the medieval period was the houppelande and thought it was theoretically long out of fashion by the 1480s does appear from time to time ,occasionally .In addition it is so firmly linked in the popular mind and in art to the medieval era its useful to have some images of both extant gowns and portraits

The version below dates from approx 1400

houpelland 1400

black damask houppelande

By the 1480s this had usually evolved into a more fitted gown,but there are still images showing similar garments being worn

gown calvar21 1490

The more fitted version

1470 80   The image above is particularly useful as its shows all three styles of gown worn simulaitusly,a loose almost houplande style gown ,a fitted gothic era gown and a front lacing transitional style gown.The iamge below shows a back view of the fitted form of gown and an interesting variation of the pointed henin

med clothing

The gown below is a truncated form of the Henin and the cuffs are again similar to those on the Hapsburg gown.

side heninThis is a very different transitional style gown but also shows the mantle which has not yet evolved into the more tailored cloak

Anne_Beaujeu 1480s

Another image showing a mix of both houppelande style gown and later gown

368px-Hans_Holbein_Temple_Detail 1500The green gown above has similarities to the Queen Margret gown but pre dates it by 30 years .

Mens clothing

This is somewhat outside my area of study so I will only add a few refences

Extant items either from the era of in a style consistent with it

As a basic under  tunic this works for many more fitted styles

1500  top

houpelland 1400

In assorted  lengths this was worn by both men and women , early mens tunics are cut in roughly this shape too

cote of charles 1400

An earlier 1470s image shows how both the long houppeland and jacket could be used as a basis for a later look

1470s men

Portrait of Richard III showing tunic similare to the extant version and fabric simialre to the Uppsala gown


later altered portrait showing houppeland style over gown/mantle

richard third

Three portraits of Henry vii show tunics sleeveless houplenad style mantles and also some later hats

Young Henry Tudor


(A very similar fabric to the one above can currently be bought online at around £8 per metre I used it for both the Hnein and damask gown)

henry vii

Finaly some random less typical images and a couple showing fashions from Italy and Spain

1890 weyb

The image above and below are useful as they not only show layers and accessories  but I think it likely that not all dresses had sewn in sleeves and sleeves may have been laced on even in many English gowns.Thje gown below is Italian from 1490s


1480 meling

2 med clothingThe gown above is earlier as is the headress,I cant find records of the butterfly headress being worn after around 1460s /1470 at the latest.

med gowns

eliz woodvil

medieval image

white henin


The gown references

Moy gown references




About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
This entry was posted in 15thc, costume research, Hathaways of Haworth, medieval and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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