Monday, April 2, 2012

B: Braies

Braies (with hose) on the man in blue, and just braies
on the man to the left of the pillar
There are many (many) terms out there for underwear, and I eventually settled on braies for men's underwear in my fantasy monstrosity -- mostly because it fits the language style I wanted (antiquated but not intimidatingly so) and it's another thing for me to argue with SpellCheck about (not that I needed help with that.)

Costume research is one of those things that looks like it should be simple, but turns out to be complex because there is so much information out there and much of it is contradictory or misinformed by the heavy influence of Hollywood and modern sensibilities. When it comes to medieval-style clothing, I've found serious re-enactors and SCAers to be a good resource (though it can take a lot of slogging through bad links.) They can also offer insights into sewing, wearing and working in the outfits. 

As an example of tricky research: medieval women's underwear. There's near-universal agreement that women wore a shift/chemise under their dresses, which was essentially a lightweight dress itself. Over time, it evolved into the slip (and who wears slips anymore?) But that's where agreement ends.

Eventually, I had to conclude that there's no solid evidence either way on the question of whether medieval women wore underpants/panties at all. There's no solid evidence of breast-supporting devices until corsets came along, either, though binding (in the form of a bandage-like wrapping) does get mentioned now and then.

So I actually went with the slightly scandalous option of my women wearing a shift under their dresses and nothing else unless it was that time of month (because good Lord, what a mess if they didn't.) They'd wear woolen hose when it's cold -- that's just being sensible.

How do you dress your fantasy characters?

11 comments:

Karen Walker said...

I don't write fantasy, but I'm fascinated by how you come up with this. Very cool.
Karen

Bluestocking said...

I ran across this issue too. Your reasoning is sound, as far as the similar research I did for my medieval romance showed me. I did read one romance where the girl was raised by a male protector in lieu of parents and he taught her to wear braies so it would be one more layer her would-be lovers would have to go through... Which implies women wearing them was uncommon at the time. Nothing like second-hand research to confirm or deny your own.

Kate said...

I dont write fantasy, but have a few fantasy characters floating around in my mind ;)

Suze said...

'(though it can take a lot of slogging through bad links.)'

I am so tempted to spew snark.

S. L. Hennessy said...

This might be the funniest post I've read all day. I love it. I dress my characters in superhero attire. Talk about tricky research. Who knows what they wear under those things haha. Great post!

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I've always wondered why so many fantasy characters have to wear renaissance clothes. Something I've never fully understood...

L. Blankenship said...

Snarking welcome! (So is quoting Lewis Carroll)

L. Blankenship said...

Spandex is so unforgiving... can't have any panty lines showing... :D

L. Blankenship said...

TBH, real medieval clothing is on the boring side. Renaissance clothing is fancier, prettier and just more fun.

nutschell said...

It is very hard to dress high fantasy characters. Probably why I write contemporary fantasy instead.
Great A-Z post!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Sue H said...

Ancient knickers! Wow - I think this post must be the most bizarre yet entertaining blog I've hopped to thus far!

My mind has conjured up all sorts of images for this.....

;-P


SueH I refuse to go quietly!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...