13th Century Women’s Clothing Paper Doll Featuring Lapis

This was my second foray into medieval clothing for the Jewels and Gemstones and, at the time, my first foray into 13th century women’s clothing of Western Europe. I like to be specific, because this isn’t what folks were wearing in Asia or the Middle East in this era.

I tend to call these sorts of paper dolls “clothing” not “fashion.” While the idea of dress as a social marker existed in the 1200s, it wasn’t really fully defined yet. It wouldn’t be until the 1300s, and then introduction of tailoring, that you really start to see trends. By the 1400s, headdresses provide plenty of space for people to engage with fashion.

A paper doll celebrating 13th century women's clothing with several dresses and headdresses.

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Okay, I took really good notes while I was working on this paper doll, so I have a mess of sources.

Lapis is wearing a shift based one illustrated in Roman de Giron le Courtois (fol. 87v).  I made the length is a little shorter and the style is quite fitted. Both of these changes were done to facilitate the paper doll layering clothing over the shift. The source material is 100 years post this paper doll’s era, but illustrations of women’s shifts are super rare. So I’ll take it.

As usual, the shoe designs come from Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz, an excellent, if exceedingly dry, book on historical footwear. I love this book, but man… it is not a fun read. The illustrations are great though.  Sources for the dress on the left include Biblia Porta, Lausanne, Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire, U 964 (fol.178r) and  Collection of poems in Old French, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal- Arsenal 3142 (fol.292r).

You can see barbett and fillet headdresses in the Romance of Alexander, England, Cambridge University Library- Cambridge MS O.9.34 (fol.25v)

I based the right dress off of this dress from BNF Arsenal 5211 Bible de Saint-Jean d’Acre (fol.069v). The book dates from 1250-1254. The other inspiration was this dress from U 964 – Biblia Porta, housed at the Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire. The brooch at the throat comes from this illustration in Morgan M.638 Maciejowski Bible (fol.33) dated 1244-1254.

A colorful 13th century women's clothing paper doll with two dresses and three headdresses.

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So, I did have some issues with her headdresses. They are such a defining part of 13th century women’s clothing. The barbette is the piece that goes under the chin and the fillet is the pillbox hat looking piece that wraps around the head. One thing I’m not sure about is whether the fillet was open or closed at the top. This manuscript illustration and this manuscript illustration it looks closed, but this one is definitely open. Anyway, I settled on closed, but I’m still not 100% sure that’s right.

Anyway, disclaimers aside, I hope you enjoy today’s 13th century paper doll! One of her dresses was a Patron piece from last year and I encourage you to head over there if you’d like to get more paper dolls every week.