Women - From the inside out
I'll be honest, 15th Century women's clothes are unfortunately rather boring compared to the mens, everyone wears much the same. However, there are some silly head-dresses and such like. The 15th Century look was thin arms, high bust and waist and full skirts of course. As with the men, this worked it's way down the social scale. At our level, dresses are fitted in the body with flared skirts and tight sleeves. Two dresses, one on top the other, was the norm; with the top dress sometimes having short or no sleeves and sometimes shorter skirts.
Hairlines were so high that the forehead was plucked, at least higher up the social scale. This I don't suggest you do; however, do try to keep all your hair out of sight. All women had long hair, unless something had happened to it, which was worn up and covered by everyone, except young girls. You should have your hair covered at all times, it is indecent otherwise. It is not enough to wear a head-dress from which your hair trails at the least opportunity, wear a coif underneath to contain your hair if needed. I know it's a pain at times but it is important. Unless you really are playing a whore, for which there are limited spaces, you must wear your hair up and covered.
The most basic set of clothing you should have is: shift, dress, head-dress, shoes or ankle-boots and a belt. It is recommended that you have at least an under-kirtle so you can pretend you have two dresses on. If you don't have a second dress you shouldn't really tuck your dress up to reveal your shift and legs.
The following is brief list and explanation of the minimum kit items you will need to portray a woman in the 15th Century.
  • Underwear - Up to you. It is claimed there is no evidence to show women wore anything in the way of knickers. As a woman, I think this is highly unlikely for practical reasons! It's up to you as they aren't visible.
  • Shift - Under garment like the men's shirt, covers the arms to the wrist but often leaves plenty of neck and chest on view.
  • Kirtle - You should be wearing at least one, with a skirt which is full and near floor length in most cases. It should have sleeves, preferably full length.
  • Gown - An overdress to be worn with a kirtle.
  • Doublet - Similar to men's, worn to keep warm.
  • Head-dress - Several forms. Must be worn otherwise you are, to put it bluntly, a whore!
  • Partlets - Neck capes worn to protect the neck from the sun. Not much worn at the moment but a good idea if you're fair skinned.
  • Short Hoes - Knee length cloth "socks", they are like the bottom part of men's footed hoes.