Friday, March 23, 2012

Contrasting gores in cotehardies

I am involved in a historical recreation group, and as such I ended up looking at making a cotehardie. Cotehardies were the height of fashion in the 1300's, and are usually what people think of as a Medieval princess' dress. To make a nice big flowing skirt, you add triangles of fabric called 'gores'. Now, one of the things I have been told is that making the gores a contrasting color to the rest of the dress just wasn't historically accurate. "Wrong, wrong, wrong!" is what I've read. is pretty! And I like it. And I'm stubborn, so I kept looking for documentation that perhaps sometime folks did this contrasting gores thing.

This evening I was wandering through the book, "Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince" by Newton, and stumbled across the following pictures:

And that last one reminded me of a line drawing from the book "Dress Accessories", from the Museum of London.

I'm thinking I'll make my cotehardie with contrasting gores, and feel pretty safe in the knowledge that it is perhaps plausible after all.

Edit: Also Figure 70 on this page:

Edit again: I tracked down the picture that the last line drawing was based on, and this is why you don't trust line drawings. Take a look: . The figure on the right does not have contrasting gores after all. The artist who did the line drawing was, I think, not looking closely. This image does, however, show the variety of patterned fabrics that could be used.


  1. Isn't it possible that in order to show their wealth, they would not have used gores, but for the less wealthy, merchant class, they may have worn the gores (a) for thriftiness sake, or (b) to show off fabrics? And in my mind, what's possible is probable, especially given that the time period of the cotehardie spans decades, if not centuries! I guess I just don't care enough for exact authenticity, as long as the spirit of it is intact. ^_^

  2. Or, given that several of the images show dancers, the contrasting gores thing might have been for special occasions? Or maybe a regional style? Maybe an age thing, like teenagers wearing more outlandish styles?

    But I've been told that they NEVER used contrasting gores in the dresses, and I've happily proved otherwise to my own satisfaction. So I'm going to make my next dress with the style I like, secure in the fact that I can document the what, if no the why. (yet)

  3. I would suggest looking up the color originals rather than relying on the black and white copies of these images. I believe that you are making assumptions based on your interpretation of how the original color shading shows up in the black and white versions, rather than reality.