I recently became highly obsessed with the TV show The Borgias, so when it came time for me to make my monthly Thrifty Thursday purchase all I could think about were Italian Renaissance dresses.
Just look at these dresses! They may not be 100% historically accurate, but it is impossible to deny that they are pieces of art.
Can you see why I was inspired?
I got one white sheet, a pillow case that I stole the trim from, an opulent bed skirt, four pieces of light brown fabric, and a pearl necklace from Goodwill. In total it came to $16.
I started by doing some further research. I know quite a bit about English Renaissance dresses, but Italian? Stumped. The Borgias takes place in 1492, all my costuming books skip this period and move straight from Medieval into the 16th century. Even Janet Arnold's AMAZING books had nothing on this period. I wept and turned to the internet, which was absolutely zero help. Forums and forums of people arguing whether ladies wore corsets or not...where they laced the dresses, what fabric they used. Almost no one agreed with each other.
So I decided to just make up my own mind based on paintings- and if it wasn't historically accurate...well I would learn for the next time.
I pinned a bunch of paintings to my Pinterest board, but these were a few of my favorites.
I decided to make a really weird corset that would simply give me the correct shape I needed, rather than being historically accurate. Why? Because I could find NO visual examples of an early Renaissance corset. It didn't make sense to me that the same corset they use for later in the period, when the waist drops, would be used in this period when the waist is so high. So I made this...thing. Half Tudor, half Regency...it is 100% inaccurate. But hey, it gave me the right shape.
I made a chemise out of the white sheet and added gold trim on the neckline. Technically this would have been gold embroidery...but I didn't have time for that. I figured gold trim was a nice compromise.
You wish your undies were as awesome as mine!
I needed lots of help getting dressed- it was no easy task. The dress tied up the side rather than lace. I tried adding hooks for lacing, but couldn't pull the bodice closed enough. So I tied it instead.
The sleeves all tied on as well. My hair got SUPER messy during this dressing period. Note- do your hair AFTER you get dressed. Not before.
Then I dragged my mother out into our park to take some pictures in the few spots that actually had green grass still.
I made a gold cap for my hair, and added my hair extensions. While I have quite long, thick hair, I don't have THAT much hair.
This project was fun. So much fun that I want to make several more dresses and just wear these all the time. Going to the grocery store, the library, to work- Italian Renaissance style.
Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, suggestions for the next Thrifty Thursday, or information on ways I could be more historically accurate next time I make something from this period- please leave me a comment!