Sandra asked last week about English women’s dress in the early 15th c.
The best book that I have on English dress is A Visual History of Costume: The Fourteenth & Fifteenth Centuries by Margaret Scott. It’s out of print and can be expensive to buy, but see if you can get it through your library.
The Museum of London books are good for details. I frequently refer to Textiles and Clothing (Crowfoot, Pritchard, Staniland) and Dress Accessories (Egan, Pritchard).
Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince (Stella Mary Newton) is a bit earlier but has lots of good information.
For more general books, check out Margaret Scott’s newer Medieval Dress & Fashion for discussion of dress and Sarah Thursfield’s The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant for sewing and tailoring assistance, especially if you haven’t done a lot of this kind of sewing before.
As for layers, I generally wear a chemise (nearly full length with full length sleeves—I find this easiest and most practical), a kirtle (underdress), and some kind of outer dress (nicer gown or houppelande). I have knee-length hose and turnshoes. I always wear something on my head, at least a St. Birgitta cap but more often several layers of linen veils and sometimes a hood.
I would recommend looking at art of the time period (you can find a lot on the internet) to see how the layers are worn. There is quite a bit of variation depending on place and status.
I hope this helps.
Maitresse Elisabeth de Besancon
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