This week I am focusing in on the use of short sleeves and loose sleeves on dresses in the medieval/early renaissance period, particularly in the 1400’s, give or take a few years. It seems like unlike earlier periods it became common to have short sleeves on the outer dress with a shift or an underdress beneath it. I am mostly looking at this using visual source material, such as paintings and drawings. I am mostly interested in Northen Europe. I am aware that short sleeves is a thing earlier in southern Europe.
Early in the 1400’s, the (liripipe) hood remained a common component of dress for all classes, although it was frequently worn around the neck as a cowl or twisted into the fantastical shapes of the chaperon. Hats of various styles—tall-crowned with small brims or no brims at all, hats with brims turned up on one side for variations of the coif, or low-crowned with wider brims pulled to a point in front—began to compete with the draped chaperon, especially in Italy. A brimless scarlet cap became nearly universal for young Florentines in particular, and was widely worn by older men and those in other cities.1
A number of different styles were worn throughout the century. Any of these styles could be topped by a padded roll, sometimes arranged in a heart-shape, or a veil, or both. Veils were supported by wire frames that exaggerated the shape and were variously draped from the back of the headdress or covered the forehead.