*** This Page is Under construction ***

Women’s Clothing for 1471 England

 ∗∗∗ All of our  members begin with the clothing of a regular person. No matter whom you wish to portray there are some events and scenarios where all of us need to work and be dressed appropriately to do so (Yes, even our Gentlewomen often set aside their finery and portray workers when we need them to.) 

***When researching please focus on Burgundian, French and English sources and avoid the Italian and German sources - there are differences in the fashion which were not at all common in England of our time. 

We strongly recommend you purchase one of the following books if you intend to sew your own clothing for use with Lord Grey’s Retinue:

Required garments for all women in Lord Grey’s Retinue:

   (Details and specifics found further down on this page)

  1. Shift of bleached white linen
  2. Hose of wool
  3. Garters
  4. Shoes
  5. Under gown – of wool
  6. Over gown – of wool
  7. Hat 

The above items are required to start with your first event. Don’t worry! We have some loaner clothing to help save the expense and time of putting it all together for your first event with us. Please speak with us early so we have time to help you gather or make what you need to attend your first event with us.   

The list continues with the other required items for your kit:


  1. Dining set – Cup, bowl, spoon and knife
  2. Large wool or natural linen bag to carry your items/hide your modern clothing










Let us get specific about the clothing items required….

Women's Shift


 This is your underwear, it is always made of bleached white linen. It should have long sleeves, under-arm gussets and a rounded scoop neck. It should be between calf and upper ankle in length.  The sleeves need to fit under the fitted sleeves of the gown worn over it.   There are no buttons, drawstrings or gathering anywhere on this garment.  You can machine sew your shift but please finish all visible areas (neckline & wrists) by hand.  

We have no evidence of any additional undergarments being worn by women. There are no versions of bras  or panties that are accurate for us.  Any bust support needed comes in the cut of your under gown which is worn over your shift. 

*Please consult page 72 of The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant  by Sarah Thursfield  or page 46 of the 2nd edition for instructions on how to make your shift ( or ask Lara for a pattern to borrow).

You may also buy your shift and alter it as needed (you may need to replace any  visible machine stitching with hand stitching). Here are a few places that sell them: 

  • Historic Enterprises offers ...
  • Medieval design offers ...

Under Gown (laced-front Kirtle)


The short sleeved, laced front kirtle is worn by all classes of women.  Worn over the shift, it is the foundation garment that (when cut correctly) supports and controls the bust.  It is considered an undergarment however it was not inappropriate to be seen wearing it in informal situations. We have numerous examples of women working, dancing and at leisure in their undergowns.  

***The kirtle goes through many forms over time so do be careful to construct it correctly for our group, our time and our location***

Our laced front kirtle under gown is cut with a waist seam that sits at the natural waist.  Bodice is cut in four parts, two fronts and two backs.  Bodice is cut on the straight grain for stability. Sleeve is cut short and in one piece with the seam running down the back of the arm.  Bodice should be lined, ideally in a bleached white linen. Sleeve may be lined but is not required.

The skirt of the gown is cut in gores and fits smoothly into the waist seam across the front and side back. The four to six inches of the center back waist line of the skirt are pleated into small pleats. The amount of gores is flexible and can vary, piecing is period. The center front of both the skirt and bodice should be cut on the straight grain to provide stability for the center front opening. The center front opening is spiral laced sewn eyelets and opens from the hip line (approximately 7" below waist) to the top of the bodice.  Skirt hem length is about 3" above the floor (your over gown will be slightly longer). For accuracy and fire safety our gowns are always made of 100% wool. 

The correct cut of our kirtle is not addressed in either version of the medieval Tailor's Assistant unfortunately.