Note: In our women’s clothes we’ve abandoned ‘standard’, modern sizing because it is far from standard, and tends to cause more confusion than provide accurate information. So, please judge your size for this style by your hip measurement. We do not give chest and waist measurements for this item because the large side openings allow for a good fit in a wide range of sizes. Please use the chart below as a guide to judge your size.
|Size||Max. Bust Measurement||Length (from shoulder)|
|2/3||up to 49″ / 124cm||57″/ 144cm|
|4/5||up to 65″ / 165cm||57″/ 144cm|
The lady’s sleeveless surcoat first appeared during the mid-13th century and was initially similar to the same garment worn by men over their armour. Within a few years a full train was added, Queen Eleanor, wife of Henry III of England, becoming so fond of the fashion that not only did it trail behind her, but the front was equally long, requiring her to carry the front of the surcoat in her hand or risk falling. An etiquette writer of the 13th century advised, “if the lady’s feet and ankles be not small and delicate, let their robes fall onto the pavement to hide them; but those whose feet are beautiful may hold up the robe in front, under pretense of stepping out briskly.”
By the first years of the 14th century the train had become far more manageable, particularly in the front, and the lines of the garment were further altered by widening and deepening the armholes. These trends continued with the increasing adoption of fitted dresses; by the mid-14th century, versions with and without trains existed, and the armholes had been cut low enough to show the hip belt worn under the surcoat on the gown below, emphasizing the female silhouette. The Church found the new fashion scandalous, some prelates dubbing the garment the “Gates of Hell” in honor of what its gaping sides did not cover. Seeing as the bodice of the surcoat only continued to grow narrower into the 15th century, the Church’s concerns seemed to have had little impact on the ladies of high fashion.
Surcoats were made of any variety of fabrics and patterns – from simple linen and wool in solid colors to elaborately patterned silks, velvets and brocades; wealthy women often trimming or lining their garments with fur. Our full-length surcoats are based on historical artwork from the mid-14th century and are made of a mid-weight linen, wool, brocade and velvet brocade with self bias edging on neck and armholes.
Drawing after a detail of the painted ceiling in the Hall of Justice c. 1354 in The Alahambra, Granada, Spain
Drawing after an illuminated manuscript Royal MS 19.D.ii circa 1350 in the British Library, London, England
Drawing after a 14th century illuminated manuscript MS Reg.2Bvii
Drawing after a14th century illuminated manuscript Royal MSS 20Cv. in the British Library, London, England
Drawing after a 15th c. illuminated Bible Sloane MS 2433 in the British Library, London, England
Drawing after a detail in the Coronation Book of Charles V of France c.1364-78 in the British Library, London, England
This cheerful Lady of Nobility shows off the silver threading in her black and silver, brocade Surcoat. Beneath she wears a red linen Kirtle as well as a Chemise. She fastens her Tasseled Pouch around her waist with her Belt, and pins her Silk Veil to her hidden Barbette. Beneath she conceals her linen Stockings and her Turnshoes.
This Lady stands proudly in her golden brocade Surcoat. Turned at an angle, she shows off the great sweeping folds of her prized possession. Beneath she wears a burgundy wool Kirtle for warmth. She dons a black linen Turret Hat. Concealed beneath her finery are her underpinnings such as her Chemise, Stockings, and Ankle Boots.