Fashion in the Age of Datini


Your humble correspondent can make split hose which cover what should be hidden with a short doublet while allowing a full range of motion. Someone who is not so clumsy and untrained should be able to do it even better!

Another complicated topic! Fourteenth-century hosen were long stockings, usually of woven cloth cut on the bias and sewed up the back of the leg, which usually had a built-in sole of fabric or leather (leather soles are painted in the Missale ad Usum Fratrum Minorum and mentioned in inventories eg. "i payre of Blake hosyn vampayed wth lether" "Inventory of Effects belonging to Sir John Fastolfe" p. 253 or the calze solate in Brandi, Abbigliamento a Rimini, pp. 64-67). They were cut long enough to hide the shirt and breeches with the shortest upper garment which they might be worn with, and tight enough to create as few wrinkles as possible. They could be laced to the belt or drawstring of the breeches (Hours of Catherine of Cleves), or to a separate belt, or to an overgarment which fit tightly in the belly (Charles du Blois garment in Lyon). These laces were designed to be hidden, not visible on the surface of the outer garment as in some later fashions. The problem is that no surviving hosen were designed to be worn with the mid-thigh-to-crotch-length upper garments which were fashionable among wealthy and warlike men, and that by definition the upper parts of these hosen were hidden. There is a handy summary of the different options and the earliest evidence for each in a blog post by Charlotte Johnson née Wurtzel, "Split and Joined Hose in the Late 14th Century." Ian Laspina collected other artwork in Joined Hose at the Turn of the 14th Century.

Hosen with multiple points on each leg were often unlaced at the back during vigorous movement. A number of paintings show a flap hanging down the back of each leg and the breeches exposed in this situation (Fior di Battaglia, Missale ad Usum Fratrum Minorum, sketches by Pisanello such as his Hanged Men and a sketch of men-at-arms practicing). It was also common to unlace all the points and roll the hosen down to calf level, especially if the upper garment was long enough to avoid showing the breeches.

Sometimes the upper parts of hosen were lined with linen, which was sometimes cut on the bias like the hosen. (d'Arcq Nouveau recueil de comptes de l'argenterie p. 283/year 1386: costs of 11 pairs of scarlet hose include "toilles à garnir," "A Wardrobe Account of 16–17 Richard II, 1393–4," the flagellation of Christ by Luis Borrassa in the Museo de Goya in Zaragoza, How a Man Shall be Armed, 15th century paintings like the San Rocco by the Master of Ambrogio Sarceni). To the best of my knowledge, none of these linen linings survives.

English-speaking people usually get their information on the cut and fabric of 14th century hosen from Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450 and Woven Into the Earth/Norse Garments Reconstructed. Singman and McLean and Thursfield have modern advice for cutting and making them up. That said, hosen of kersey are mentioned in the accounts of Thomas of Lancaster c. 1418-1421 (Woolgar, Household Accounts, p. 634) and the deathbed inventory of Sir John Fastolfe (1459) and in the 16th century kersey was a lightweight 2:2 twill woven especially for hosen, while the hosen fragments from 14th century London are of a plain weave. So the 'working class' hosen from London and Greenland may not represent the materials used by the fashionable or in richer, more urban countries.

... pictures to come ...

The Dispute Between a Good Man and the Devil lines 273-276 complaining about short skirts with split hosen