A Well-Dressed Lucretia Commits Suicide

Jacobus de Cessolis

The Game of Chess Moralized, in French

France, Paris(?)
early 1350s
308 x 228 mm

Gift of the Trustees of the William S. Glazier Collection, 1984

MS G.52, fols. 10v–11r
Item description: 

Lucretia's surcot has a fashionably tight bodice and sleeves, from the elbows of which hang slender tippets. The neckline is curved, rising in front but falling off the shoulders. The braids of her hair have been folded along the slanted posts of a tressour, framing her face. Her father, husband, and friends are all dressed in tight cotes hardy with dagged hems. Lucretia's father also wears tippets from his sleeves and a dagged chaperon. The men sport wavy hair with a dorlott: a curl or bang above the forehead.

Exhibition section: 

Fashion Revolution

The "Fashion Revolution" began around 1330 with the invention of the set-in sleeve. Earlier garments were T-shaped, with sleeves of a piece with the body or sewn on a flat seam. The new technique (still in use today) cut sleeves with rounded tops and gathered them along basted threads into armholes in the bodice. This new tailoring, combined with the use of multiple buttons, made possible a snugly fitted bodice and tight sleeves. While providing more freedom of movement, the new garment for men—the cote hardy—also revealed the shapes of the wearer's torso and arms. The "Fashion Revolution" gave birth to men's modern dress, creating an outfit that was sharply differentiated from the dress of women.

Women's fashions, however, were also affected. Tighter bodices and sleeves became popular, as did exposed necks and shoulders. The sides of the outer garment, the surcot, now sometimes featured seductively large, peek-a-boo openings.

Men—and some women—turned the chaperon (a hood with an attached cape and tail) into a fashion accessory that lasted over a hundred years.