Italian Working Class Dress

At most events you will find me cooking and helping out in the kitchen.  I needed garb appropriate for working that was also period.  As it happens my persona is 16th c. Venetian.  Hence Italian working-class garb!  Fortunately there is a hefty collection of paintings in period depicting women working in the kitchen.  

This dress is made of cotton canvas (for easy cleaning), and is designed to be worn without a bra.  I cut the bodice in such a way as to allow as little stretch as possible, and then lined it with another layer of heavy canvas to stiffen it.

I designed a shirt to wear under it based on the shirt worn in Vencenzo Campi’s “The Fruit Seller.”  I ordered what I though was a handkerchief weight linen.  It turned out to be more like gauze than linen.  I went ahead with the shirt, but found I had to reinforce every seam by hand for fear of it unraveling.  I added gussets under the arms and a gore at the collar.  I based this on an extant shirt in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 4; The Cut and Construction of Linen Shirts, Smocks, Neckwear, Headwear, and Accessories for Men and Women 1540-1660.



Full dress  Closeup