Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
Today’s paper doll dress is a surcoat (over-dress) over another dress. As far as I can tell, this style came into fashion in the second half of the 13th century and sticks around in various forms for over 100 years. As I said when I was showing off Lapis and her 13th century undergarments, I am not an expert on this time period. At best, I am a dabbling amateur. However, one thing I did notice as I looked at many many pictures was that the 13th century is similar to the 14th century, if they hadn’t yet mastered curved seams and tailoring techniques.
So, while in the 14th century they have sideless surcoats over fitted kirtles, that is not what you see in the 13th century. You see their predecessors- a sleeveless surcoat over a dress where just the sleeves are visible and there’s no waist as far as the eye can see. This style does continue into the first part 14th century- here is an example. Later the armholes lengthen, these surcoats are in the later 14th century style.
Clothing rarely confines itself to neat time ranges, but rather tends to ease over years and decade markers.
Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
As usual, the shoe designs come from Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz, an excellent, in exceedingly dry, book on historical footwear. The surcoat is based on this illustration and this illustration while the headdress comes from here, but also from all the looking at headdresses I did when drawing Lapis.
Specific Source Images: Biblia Porta, Lausanne, Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire, U 964 (fol.178r), Collection of poems in Old French, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal- Arsenal 3142 (f.292r), Romance of Alexander, England, Cambridge University Library- Cambridge MS O.9.34 (f.25v), this recreation of 13th century dress & this recreation of 13th century dress
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls, Lapis with her 13th century underwear & Everything I’ve Drawn from the 13th Century
Around the Internet: Illumanu (a tumblr devoted to manuscript illustrations of clothing & dress is one of my goto places for illustrations), Manuscript Miniatures (a website that collects manuscript miniatures) & the amazing Gallica, the digital library of France
I previewed a lot of this collection over on Patreon. So, thank you to all my Patrons to encouraged me to continue even though I was a little nervous. Reminder: There’s an extra paper doll outfit every Friday, plus previews of what I’m working on and polls and things. Check it out!
Rarely have I wished I knew more medieval Latin, but when I am looking for primary source illustrations of clothing I do. It’s very hit and miss, but I do my best with my limited knowledge. I respect people who do recreations of these garments, but I wish more of them properly cited their source images. It’s very frustrating to find a great illustration from an illuminated manuscript, but have no way of knowing where it came from. I won’t use anything that doesn’t properly cite a source. I’m a librarian, after all. I have some standards.