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Dress Sense
By the time of the 15th century, silk weaving was taking place in the Mediterranean.

Dress Sense

This dress sense quiz is all about fashion!

In the 15th century the world of clothing underwent many changes. At the beginning of the 1400s long and voluminous fashions were the rage, allowing the wearer to display his wealth by the amount of cloth he wore. By the century's end things had changed and clothes had become more revealing, particularly for men who now wore short tunics which exposed their legs. Wealth was shown in different ways, by adorning oneself with expensive cloths, furs or jewellery. The improving condition for the middle classes let them emulate their superiors in style, though not with the same materials. Some things were still the preserve of the very rich.

The woad plant was used in the dying industry and so became a popular crop among farmers. What colour dye was woad used to make, in a fermentation process which took nine months to complete?
The colour blue was very popular in France, it being the main colour in the king's coat of arms. Many French farmers took to growing woad as a crop, but the plant took the nutrients from the ground leaving it infertile. In France and Italy laws had to be implemented to control the farming of woad
In the 15th century the majority of clothes, for both rich and poor, was made from which fabric?
Due to its abundance, wool was the fabric of convenience. The mainstay of the English economy, it was produced in huge amounts here and exported to other nations. Many types of fabric were made from wool, varying in quality from a coarse, plain cloth worn by the poor to the thick, soft and colourfully died cloths of the rich
Men of all classes wore 'braies'. What type of garment were they?
Braies were very loose fitting and had to be held up by a belt. The legwear of the time, 'hose', which were similar to modern leggings or tights, were often held up by being attached to the braies, as in a modern suspender belt
Clothing for ladies also underwent changes during the 15th century. What feature became fashionable on gowns made after 1450?
A low neckline
Open sides
A short hem
Open backs
The plunging V-shaped necklines were not very revealing. Beneath her gown a lady would wear an undergown, or 'kirtle' and beneath her kirtle was a smock. A medieval lady was very modest indeed by today's standards
Animal furs were commonly worn by those who could afford them. Which of these furs would NOT have been worn by a 15th century knight?
Ermine was the reserve of the high ranking nobility, such as dukes, and for royalty. Cat and squirrel were more affordable as they were common and lynx was a new arrival on the 15th century fashion scene
During the 15th century a new concern arose for the first time in the world of fashion, one that is still with us today. What was it?
The need to keep up with current trends
Cheap imports from overseas
The need to pay tax on the clothes you buy
Expensive designer labels
Before the fifteenth century, English fashion had not changed much since the Norman Conquest, some 400 years before. Men had worn a long tunic with hose and maybe a hooded cloak over the top. At the beginning of the 15th century tunics grew ever shorter and were eventually replaced by doublets. Fashions changed comparatively quickly and the poor or the older people, set in their ways, stood out from the fashionable and wealthy younger men
At Richard III's coronation he is said to have worn a velvet gown decorated with three thousand powderlings of bogy shanks. What were bogy shanks?
Green gems
Rabbit fur
Swans' feet
Bogy could mean fur of any kind but shanks referred to that of rabbits. Powderlings were small patches sewn to a garment to give it the appearance of spotted ermine, which Richard's gown was also trimmed with
By the time of the 15th century, silk weaving was taking place in the Mediterranean, making the luxury cloth more affordable than it had been when imported from the east. From what material is silk made?
The fibres of a plant
The cocoon of a moth
The thread of a worm
The web of a spider
Despite its name, the silkworm is actually the caterpillar of the silk moth. They are bred from eggs and when they weave a cocoon to protect them during their metamorphosis into an adult moth, they are killed by exposure to heat. The cocoon is then unravelled and turned into a thread from which silk is made. The process used today is the same as that of the Middle Ages, though on a much larger, industrial scale
By the late 15th century, when Richard III had become the King of England, it was fashionable for men to have shoulder-length hair. This style had replaced which other, which had dominated the early part of the 15th century?
A crew cut
A shaven head
A short back and sides
A basin cut
Men's hair in the early part of the 15th century had been worn with a straight fringe which encircled the head, giving it the appearance of an upturned basin. The hair at the back of the head was shaved up to the point where it met the fringe. Images of Henry V who reigned until 1422, show him wearing this style. The sides and back of the head must have felt very cold in an English winter!
During the Middle Ages married women were expected to cover their heads. Most did this by wearing hoods, snoods or wimples, but in the 15th century noblewomen took to wearing a crespine. What is a crespine?
A hair net
A conical hat
A wig
A headscarf
A crespine was a net made either from wire or fabric. They were used to contain a woman's hair, which was always grown long but never worn down in public. Instead it was plaited into intricate styles, most often into two curling 'ram's horns'. These styles were so complex that they could take several hours to fashion every morning


Author:  Graeme Haw

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