16th Century, Antwerpen

Antwerpen gown epiphany

I’ve had this thing that I’ve been kicking around for a while. I’m working on my Antwerpen gown and I’ve been kind of stuck trying to figure out what was going on with the front of the dress under the laces. This is the same thing that puzzled me when I made Cranach/Saxony style dresses(here and here).

There’s {something} under the laces.. but I’m fairly certain that {something} is not actually part of the gown but that’s actually not part of my epiphany. I’m more focused on “what’s going on with the front of the skirt of the dress?”. If the {something} under the laces is not the bodice, then what is the skirt attached to?

The Antwerpen market gals are not very forthcoming. They all have aprons on which hide WHATEVER is going on down there. Regardless, this is something I’ve been poking at like a sore tooth.

It’s a combination of “can’t figure out how that would work” combined with “what I’ve come up with so far is dumb” and a week ago I was thinking about it as I fell asleep.. and my muse cleared her throat and said “It’s either {this (which I don’t like)} or {that}” where {that} is something I’ve never considered but makes total sense.. but I’ve seen no proof of it.. so it “might” be what was done.. but I’ve never seen anyone else do it.. so I could be just making shit up… So then my muse demanded that I see if there’s any evidence for/against this conjecture. I ended up looking until 1 am (and I’m still looking) and I haven’t found compelling evidence but I’m still going with this.

{this (which I don’t like}

So.. ok {this (which I don’t like}, my muse suggested that the bodice and the skirt might be separate items of clothing. I don’t like it mostly because my experience with wearing bodice/skirt is that you end up with that poof of chemise poking out of the line between the two. I don’t see that happen ANYWHERE in images. I don’t love the idea.. but there is a bit of evidence to support it. There are a couple of the market pictures where the color of the bodice clearly does not match the color of the skirt. I suppose gals could be pointing their skirts to their bodice. So okay, I can accept that may have been something that happened.. BUT I don’t want to do it. So I’m discarding that for me.


The compelling {that} What if the front 1/3 of the skirt is not attached to the bodice at all. What if instead it uses a tie which ends up UNDER the dress to hold that part up.

So we make up a skirt and attach the back 2/3 of the dress to the bodice… and then we finish the edges of the slits on each side of the front 1/3 of the skirt. Then we add a tie (like an apron string) which will be used to hold up the front panel of the dress. After the skirt apron string is tied you put the top part of the bodice on and lace it.

I like the idea of an “apron string” as that would allow for A LOT of adjustment to accommodate for pregnancy but I suppose it could be handled just as well by adding hook/eye to the inside of the skirt. Ties have the added bonus of working for later-occurring medieval pockets (no evidence for those yet but I’m looking).

So imagine you’ve got this dress which is lined in a different color.. and you’ve pulled it on over your head.. so your standing inside of the dress and you have your arms through the arm holes BUT you haven’t tied/fastened the front panel of the skirt yet.

I believe it would look a lot like this:

Peasant Wedding by Marten van Cleve I 1527-1581

Sadly I don’t see any ties on this.. but still.. I think it is interesting.

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