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Will My Medieval Dress Fit Me?

The Abbey Medieval Festival is pleased to offer you this Costuming post by our special guest blogger who has a wealth of experience with differing costume and dress styles and fittings when attending Medieval Events.

What Medieval Dress Style will suit me?

You may think that all medieval women were tall and slender but this is not the case. Look at the C14th Queen of King Edward III, the gentle yet clever Philippa of Hainault. Loved and worshipped by her Husband, loved and adored by the people even after her death, she was no stick insect and yet was the epitome of elegance and bringing her and her unique styles from Valenciennes, Belgium (Valenciennes can be found today in Northern France), influencing the fashion at court with her native ladies and throughout English Noble and Middle Class society.
Hopefully this short post will cover the basics and give you an idea of what would suit your body shape best for you to feel and look totally fabulous at the festival this year.

Slender, “Willowy” and Athletic Figure Styles

If you are of a slender build ( or athletic), you can pretty much wear almost anything in the medieval era, from a well cut C13th garment that is loose fitting, to a C14th Cote-hardie as pictured here. along with a well cut sideless surcote,  a C15th French Burgundian Gown or Kirtle.
What to avoid?

Too much fabric for starters! Be aware of hanging sleeves over narrow ones if part of the fashion of the era you portray. These will swamp your slender frame unless cut with care and thought, should you choose to have them.

The neckline on a C14th gown can be higher above the bust and can be off the shoulder to add some sensuality.

For the C15th keep to a high waist and belt, as it will give you the illusion of curves for your derrière.

Keep the style simple and elegant without too much fuss and your whole look will be a success!

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The Voluptuous, Curvy and Hourglass Fashions

If you are curvaceous and have an hourglass figure, get yourself a well fitting bra and hang the cost. Those girls need to be contained but also on show!  Not authentic in reality but you want then to be secure and comfy under your gown.
Any C13th loose fitting gown will look ok, but will drape heavily according to your bust size, so be aware they may not be flattering and if wearing a sideless surcote, cut it wide at the shoulders and wide across bust.

Any C14th gown in the English, French or Spanish styles would suit as gowns in the C14th were cut to the figure for both sexes due to the new invention of buttons, making garments close fitting. Sideless Surcotes look great on this shape figure too as the cut away sides are flattering to the waistline. Necklines can be lower to show upper parts of the breasts and off the shoulder as of the C1350’s at court. The Hips in these style gowns will be covered and hide a multitude of sins for the modern woman, but they did enhance their derrière with fox tails under their gowns, so show off your lower curves in your gown with pride! (Ankles and wrists were extremely sexy and never shown! So show off your upper breasts and backside and be totally authentic!)

Any C15th Gown would also suit the hourglass figure enhancing your breasts as the V neckline for the larger busted lady is very flattering, also if the neckline skims the tops of the shoulders too showing more of the curve of the neck under the dancing veil from the Hennin headdress but again be modest and have a neckerchief of transparent material, silk organza for example, tucked in ( although most modern men would disagree with this!)
What to avoid?
With an hourglass figure your breasts will be the main problem, so trick the eye and enhance your slender waist. Not much can be done with this body shape in the C13th clothing as it’s so loose fitting even if tucked into a belt and pulled out under the ribcage. It makes you look frumpy. Keep to silks or linens if you do wear c13th clothing, in a simple cut, as they will drape heavier and flatter more with more fabric in the skirts of the gown about the legs and ankles to balance the eye.
For the C14th, wear your belt lower than your waist, more towards your hips, this will elongate you from your bust making you look slimmer. Also avoid large hanging or excessively dagged sleeves of the French Style as these near your bust will make you look larger than you are. If you do choose to have hanging sleeves, have then hanging long from the elbow, as seen right pictured here
Keep your tippets narrow and neat if you choose to wear them. Make your gowns very full in the skirts, if you have enough fabric to direct the eye down and to balance your frame. If wearing a sideless surcote, avoid narrow fronts on them. Keep the front of your surcote wide (nipple width is a good indication of what would flatter your body shape best) along with the back being wide, as seen left here.

For the C15th the only difference would be to keep the cut of the gown simple once again and not to have it high waisted. Cut the gown’s waist low on your narrowest point to flatter your figure best and also have your belt at this point too or have a very wide belt. It does not look flattering if your bust over hangs though!

 

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The luckiest of all of the Body Shapes – the Pears

With a Pear shape figure, consider yourself to be one of the lucky ones, as this was the shape that most fits medieval depictions of the female medieval form.
It is hard to determine if a pear shape figure was under the long loose fitting gowns of the c13th, but one from the Mannesse Codex pictured here would look good on your frame with a smaller neckline, with the folds falling from either a set neckline or cut to incorporate the fullness required to achieve this look

As would a fashionable C14th gown pictured here on the right.
A larger than normal derrière and belly was considered the perfect figure for birthing and considering it was the sole purpose of medieval Noble women to provide heirs, it stands to reason many images were depicted thus. A C14th Gown cut with a full skirt is most flattering and can have either a square neckline or a rounded one, hanging sleeves, dagged sleeves, narrow sleeves, you get the idea. A sideless surcote will flatter this shape figure well too.

The C15th Houpplande as well as the Burgundian and Spanish Gowns look good on the pear shaped figure too with the tiny waist and ribcage able to take the high waist level and belt.

What to avoid?

No much to be honest, like I said above, you are one of the lucky ones. Keep your necklines fitted to your shoulders and torso and then let the fabric fall into full skirts and the gowns of the medieval period flatter your body shape best, so relish in it and enjoy your body in a stunning gown.

 

 

Guest Blogger:  Kat Woods

“Let me introduce myself.
My Name is Katrina Wood, I belong to a small C14th group here in the UK called ‘Age of Chivalry’ and I have re-enacted for 26 years.
I have been approached by The Abbey Medieval Festival, which has a reputation second to none in the UK, to do a small blog on Female Medieval Costumes suiting and flattering body shapes.” Note from Jo – Kat’s really modest bio really should include her website which is:  http://www.katshats.co.uk/

 

The Medieval Carnivale

A  balmy medieval winter’s evening settles
So what happens when the sun goes down on a medieval day full of markets, after picking up that great new wooden food bowl that has been carved so beautifully, and all the  furs and loom-woven pieces and the excitement of the tourney with its  elaborate  jousts and battles ?

The swords are sheathed.

The horses are groomed and fed after a day of jousting.

And the cannons are hushed.

 

Do the inhabitants sleep?  Oh noooo nooo nooo!
Party Time!

The Medieval Carnivale Begins!

The visitors have donned their best gear – dresses swishing, cloaks swirling, children  delightedly whisper to each other  – ‘the fire twirlers are here with the Burning Dragon!”!  Feet are tapping with the last strains of drums and strings still hanging in the air.
Our tummies already happily filled from the day’s feasting, and we can settle down on our benches and await with pleasure the scenes to come.

What happens at a Medieval Carnivale?

What do battle hardened horses do at night to play? How do the riders of war trained horses wind down after a day of action?
A gypsy tribe is settling down for the night, something is in the air… What is stirring away from the encampment that calls for a celebration?

Showcasing Medieval After-Dark Celebrations!

The stars are twinkling, the performers’ blazing  sticks are  twirling  seemingly magically –  intertwining  with dangerous dragon!  The rhythm, the beat and the tempo of a time where the music reflected a community’s way of life.

Next Tuesday’s post will be the first of a series highlighting the spectacle of our professional  Medieval Carnivale Entertainment Team who will delight you for two hours!   We trust you’ve got your tickets to the Festival!

NSW and Victoria….Do you read me??

Hello again readers,

I left you hanging yesterday, sorry,  but literally, I was mid sentence when I got a call about….. I think I can say it out loud now…. our Competition!

Queenslanders! We love you of course, that goes without saying, but we want to share this love. Lets forget about rugby and forget about the weather.  Right now, we are so excited to be connecting in this fantastic way to NSW and VIC!

So NSW and VIC, how does a week in Queensland sound?  Fly the family up, lap up a little sunshine, drive around in a nice car, live it up at a luxury resort,  do the VIP thing at the Abbey Medieval Festival….and visit three other fantastic Queensland experiences.

You know you deserve this!!

Ok, here’s the how!

Sydney-siders! – get the Sun Herald this Sunday, find the travel section, you will find an Abbey Medieval Festival ad in the Destinations Magazine insert.

Likewise, Melbourne – Get the Age!

Here’s where it gets interesting.  You’ll find a QR code on the ad, get hold of your chatting device (aka mobile phone), and scan the code.  Now, if it all works ok, you’ll find yourself in our Facebook landing page, where you are asked to input your details to enter our fantastic competition!

And tell us more about the competition I hear you say.  Ok. will do…

We are offering one lucky family from either Sydney or Melbourne, return flights to Brisbane, a week’s accommodation in the luxurious Novotel Twin Waters, a family car for a week sponsored by the wonderful folk at Martin Jonkers Motors, Caboolture…..and let me see, what else??

Oh yes, be treated by a VIP at the Abbey Medieval Festival and enjoy free family passes to Australia ZooAussie World and the amazing Bellingham Maze!!!!

Why wouldn’t you?

Ok, I am now officially exhausted from excitement. Time out, and have a wonderful weekend.

Caroline

PS.  For God’s sake, get the Sunday papers!!!

 

 

Caroline calls to New South Wales and Victoria!

 

Hello to readers of this Blog!
I am Caroline and I work as a member of the Abbey Medieval Festival Marketing team.  I’m a little new to blogging but I am hoping to get to know people out there and keep you updated on events as they progress with the Abbey Medieval Festival.

We are aware that we have a large number of followers from New South Wales and Victoria and we want to express our appreciation for your interest and loyalty.

 I would especially like to welcome my friend and old neighbour(less of the old…!) Carolyn Blunden from Stanhope Gardens in NSW. Carolyn is studying to be a Fashion Designer and guess what…..Carolyn’s inaugural art piece is going to be my Medieval Banquet gown!  Thank you so much Carolyn!  (Wait untill my five year old daughter Alice sees me in one of your numbers……No pressure C, I’m not expecting to look like someone straight out of the set of the Tudors!


I can’t wait to get this project moving.  Carolyn has a  fascination of all things Medieval, so I’m wondering how we can reach out to other Medieval Make Believers out there…………

Hang on…. I know exactly how!!!

 Let you know tomorrow, promise…I have final details to attend to….watch this blog…..

OUR VOLUNTEERS – Heros of the Day

Every year the most amazing people come forward to volunteer as part the team for the Abbey Medieval Tournament and it is their involvement that makes this Festival the internationally-renowned event that it is today.

The numbers of volunteers required each year continues to grow with the 2012 event looking for over 200 helpers.  Many will be repeat helpers but we are always looking for fantastic people to come and join us, to be involved in an historic way of life for a weekend, to help our 25,000 visitors experience such an eye-opening weekend – to see how rope and furniture was made, to taste food and drinks of the day, to ‘oohh’ at the jousting and to ‘aahh’ at the Birds of Prey.

To volunteer, just complete our Online Volunteer Form and your information will come straight through to us, the Volunteer Co-ordinators,  and we’ll be in touch!!

Roles range from helping people at the gate, serving at the Banquet and being involved in the Kids Festival the week before.  You’ll even get a great costume to wear to help you feel like you’re really part of this ‘wiiiillld’ weekend experience.

Now that it is the New Year we are getting into the swing of things.  The logistics of sourcing 200+ people, allocating roles, finding food to feed the team (it might be a loaves & fishes type-meal!!  We’re hoping for the forever-filling baskets to come forward as budget is preeeeety tight!!) – all this seems pretty daunting at the moment but I’m sure Chrystle and I, as the volunteer co-ordinator team, will find ways and means to make this an unforgettable weekend (in the best possible way!!) for you all

……

Wishing all our past volunteers a wonderful 2012 and the same to any future volunteers out there reading our new post!!