> While you can replicate this look without the placard, there are
> several illuminations in King Rene's Book of Love that show women
> undressing or dressing with a rectangle of contrasting fabric attached
> at the neckline of the undergown. Presumably this was so you could
> make your underdress using fabric from the dollar bin and add 1/4 yard
> of $50 a yard fabric on the placard so it looked like you were rich.
Exactly. The undergown is the fitted kirtle that provides your bust
support. The overgown could provide some support, but paintings,
statuary and other sources don't show the same strain lines on the
burgundian V-necked gown as on the kirtles underneath. The placard
simulates the look of a full undergown of expensive fabrics, just as
the Tudor/Elizabethan forepart and sleeves do a century later.
> I don't recall for sure if the undergowns had sleeves or not, I think
> perhaps they did. But they didn't have central heat!
In the Book of Love the kirtle sleeves are short and the smock/chemise
sleeves are long and straight. When your undergown sleeve was going
to show you would wear a false sleeve made of fancy fabric over the
smock sleeve and pinned to the short kirtle sleeve. Again, this
simulates the look of a full undergown of fancy fabric. If you look
at period illustrations of women at home but not doing "dirty work"
(situations where your clothes would get dirty or damaged) you'll see
women wearing the kirtle with the false sleeves pinned on to cover the
The partlets worn with the Burgundian V-necked gown were so sheer that
they are very hard to see in most portraits/depictions. I don't know
if the depictions where there doesn't seem to be one are intended to
show that there was no partlet in that instance, or simply that the
fabric was so fine that the artist didn't/couldn't depict it. If you
look at a lot of documentation from this time period, however, you
will see that at least some women were wearing a very very sheer