Thursday, 4 September 2014

History of Fashion: Gothic


1150AD – 1500AD

The word gothic, which means crude or barbaric culture, is based on the name of Germanic tribes, the Goths, who invaded Italy and broke down the Roman Empire.

Woman wearing heraldry and parti-colouring.
In this era the gothic fashion was influenced by architecture and art. During this period, the Church gained a large following and had more power than their feudal system. The feudal system "was based on allocation of land in return for service. The king would give out grants of land to his most important noblemen (barons and bishops), and each noble would have to promise to loyally follow him and supply him with soldiers in time of war." (themiddleages)

There were many key style features in the Gothic era, which included heraldry, parti-colouring, mi-party, dagging, pourpoint, cote-hardie, doublet, houppelande, sideless surcote, chaperon and the liripipe.

Heraldry was a combination of parti-colouring, coat of arms and family crests/insignia, which would be worn as an identifier of lineage. Parti-colouring was a multi-colored garment that often had one side embroidered, based on the colours. Mi-parti was the dividing of clothes vertically into two different colours, which was most popular in tights.

Dagging was a type of design at the edge of garments. It was slashed into shapes such as scallops, crosses or points. These would often be seen on the chaperon, which were a caped hood with a liripipe (a long tail).

The pourpoint was a short jacket with tight sleeves buttoned from the elbow to the wrist. These buttons were not only used for making the sleeves tighter but for the ability to lace armor on. It was also worn under the cote-hardie, which was a garment worn tight fitting around the shoulders, waist and hips. The cote-hardie was often dagged and worn by men and women.

The doublet was also a short jacket that could be sleeved or sleeveless. It could be worn under a close fitting pourpoint but when worn as an outer garment, would be padded and have a short skirt.

The houppelande was a loose comfortable gown that usually had bell shaped sleeves with dagging on the edges. Though worn by both men and women, women always wore it at full length while men sometimes wore it shorter.

Gothic women also wore a sideless surcote that was a ove gown with the sides cutaway from under the arm to the hip. It remained as a ceremonial dress later in the gothic period
Woman: wearing a sideless/cutaway surcoat over a blue cote-hardie. Man: wearing a short cote-hardie and an orange chaperon with a long liripipe. both wearing poularies/crackows

In addition gothic fashion had some interesting accessories such as poularies/crackows, pomanders and the gorget.

Gothic woman wearing a hennin.
Poularies or crackows were long-tipped shoes that later on grew so much in length it had to be tied to the knees.

The gorget was a garment worn under the chin and tucked under the neckline of a gown, which was later developed into a metal piece of armor.

Women wore pomanders a ball like pendant containing a sponge of perfume that would be worn from a necklace or girdle. They also wore tippets, which was a band sewn around the elbow of a cote-hardie with the end hanging as a streamer.

It was popular for women to wear head pieces such as the reticulation, escoffin, hennin and the coif. The reticulation was a decorative metal cage structure used to hold their hair while the escoffin was a tall and heavily decorated headdress sometimes shaped like two horns and usually worn as a veil. The hennin was a cone or steeple like headdress with a veil and the coif was a close fitting cap tied under the chin.

Modern outfit inspired by this era: 

Givenchy Spring 2010 ready-to-wear fashion show
This outfit was part of the Givenchy Spring 2010 ready-to-wear fashion show in Paris. The collection had a lot of draping, leggings, kilts and prints. While the collection itself was not inspired by the gothic era, I felt some of the garments had a lot of elements, which derived from this era’s fashion.

The clearest feature on this outfit that reflected key features from the gothic era is the headpiece, which can be compared to the popular gothic headpiece, the hennin. Though that piece is very literal I think they modernised it by rounding out the point and giving it a type of alien look, often associated with the ‘future’.

Another prominent style feature in this outfit would be the tights, which are mi-parti. As explained above mi-parti is the dividing of clothes vertically into two different colours. I believe the tights in this outfit are modernised by placing the colours is different angles and excluding the traditional bright colours, which would look dated, and using the same colour but in different fabrics. The use of different fabrics also updated the outfit as the shiny type of fabric looks manmade, which would not have been available at that time.

The short dress placed on top of the tights, which was also a common look in gothic fashion, mirrors the women’s houppelande as it features a ‘v’ neck shape and a belted high waist. I think this dress was modernised by shortening the length of the skirt as well as the sleeves.


The Feudal System (n.d.). In themiddleages. Retrieved August 28, 2014, from

The Collection Online (n.d.). In The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved August 31, 2014, from

Paper Dolls Again (2011, November 22). In History of Costume. Retrieved September 2, 2014, from

History of Costume (2009, July 31). In Scribd. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from

Heraldic Cotehardie (2010, June 21). In Ysabel la Broderesse. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from

Mower, S. (2009, October 3). SPRING 2010 READY-TO-WEAR Givenchy. In Style. Retrieved September 2, 2014, from

Gothic (n.d.). In CWU. Retrieved September 1, 2014, from


  1. wauw het ziet er heel goed uit. heb je de volgende link bezocht ..? zo niet, open dan de link en geniet van 25% korting en gratis en snelle verzending.


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