Monday, September 3, 2007

Netherlandish Working Women Part 4 -- The Accessories

Let's start from the inside and work our way out. The first element we have to examine is the smock worn under the dress. In a few paintings, (like Aersten's "Christ and the Adultress" from 1559, detail shown at left) the partlets are missing and a round neck can plainly be seen. Sometimes we can even make out a medium to low round neck showing through the partlet opening.

When women aren't wearing pin-on sleeves, their smock sleeves are apparent. They are often pushed up or rolled to above the elbows, but no cuffs are in evidence. They appear to be constructed of simple rectangles as were most smock sleeves. The ends appear simply finished.
By virtue of the stress wrinkles and tightness observed in the partlets, we can assume they are tied rather than pinned on. Pinned partlets show stress at the pinning point. These show stress more evenly distributed across the garment. Although we have no glimpses of ties, we also have no evidence of pins and ties seems a more functional option for a woman involved in physical labour.

Next is hairdressing and headdresses. The women in the top two paintings on this page appear to have ribbons wrapped around rolls of hair and those rolls wrapped around the back of the head in a configuration normally termed "hair taping". The bulk of the hair is concentrated at the back of the head where it can easily be covered by a cap of the type shown in Beuckelaer's "Market Woman with Fruit", detail from which is shown at left.

This cap does not appear to be the entire headdress of the market women. A structured veil, sometimes called a Flemish [sic] Hood, is worn over it as in the detail at right from one of Beuckelaer's Market Scenes.

In addition to smocks, partlets and headdresses, the Netherlandish working women appear to be wearing pin-on sleeves, soft fabric stomachers, and aprons. The aprons are not gathered or pleated to a band like other aprons in this time period but rather appear to be simple rectangles of cloth, more often coloured than white, tucked into a string around to waist.

© 2007 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.


Corbie said...

I'd actually vote for a trapezoidal shape to the sleeves -- slightly tapered toward the wrist, in other words. The sleeves look to me as though they have the same amount of ease at the wrist as at the elbow and upper arm. My shift is made that way, and it looks about like the ones in the pics.

The rectangular sleeve makes more sense if you're gathering it to a cuff to control the fullness at the wrist.

Kass McGann said...

Now that's interesting, because when I put on my shift with rectangular sleeves and roll or push them up above my elbows, it looks exactly like in these paintings.

I tried it, you see.

Marie said...

I've had an unexpected outcome from this very interesting entry - I looked up "hair taping" in google to see what exactly it might be, and found (what looks to be) a very simple yet totally cool way of doing my hair. I'm always wondering what I can do with my hair that's not a boring ponytail (or should I just cut it!), and clearly I should have been looking into period hairstyle reproductions all along ;)
(This is standgale from livejournal by the way....)

beast said...

Drat! I'm sure I found an image with at least a partial view of the partlet underarm area (and apparent tie), but I have no idea where...