Gambeson with buttons down the front ?

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Gambeson with buttons down the front ?

Postby Thearos » 07 Mar 2019 02:57

I rather like a replica gambeson. "XIVth century", says the vendor. "Good arm movement", says the reviewer. But why does it have buttons in front ? Wouldn't they snag on mail ? Is this made to be worn on its own ? Or over mail (as old Big Dummy once wrote). Were there such things in the middle ages ?
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Re: Gambeson with buttons down the front ?

Postby Sean M » 11 Apr 2019 17:38

That is a complicated question!

Generally, you can see jack, jacket, jupe, jupon, gambeson, aketon, and pourpoint as generic terms for any quilted or manylayered clothing. They opened down the front when that was the fashion, and used whatever fasteners were fashionable. Some people today prefer them to lace closed if they are going to wear mail on top, and so did Lydgate's informants, but art and documents don't always support that ... remember that by the time garments opening down the front came into fashion in the 1330s, a lot of guys from England to Tuscany were wearing separate sleeves and skirts and collars instead of a single shirt!

Image (from BNF Français 343 Queste del Saint Graal fol. 32r)

Medieval mail was not as sharp as modern Indian mail, the rings were often smaller, and it was often lined or attached to a special garment, so our problems may be because of the poor excuse for mail we wear (on the other hand, they also had skilled servants within shouting distance).

I am not so impressed with the custom or off the rack "modern medieval" quilted garments I have seen, most of them have pretty big functional problems compared to the originals. Jessica Finley makes nice custom doublets when her health allows.
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Re: Gambeson with buttons down the front ?

Postby Thearos » 29 Dec 2019 01:43

Answer: they're made to be worn over mail, not as aketons under mail.
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Re: Gambeson with buttons down the front ?

Postby Sean M » 02 Mar 2020 00:08

Until the mid 14th century, most Frankish quilted garments do not open up the front whether they are undergarments or overgarments, because Frankish clothes in that period normally do not open up the centre front. From the mid 14th century onwards, most Frankish quilted garments open up the front, because that was the fashion now.

Its exactly like people today make quiilted garments with long skirts which are as narrow at the hem as at the waist: it is the fashion that men's clothes are tight about the legs, even if it makes the coats flap around and exposes important bits in sparring.
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