Margaret’s Portfolio

I’ve made a number of projects to explore the clothing worn by women in the Low Countries in the late 1500s and early 1600s. You’ll find a number of attempts to imitate both the buyers and sellers in the market genre paintings, as well as a number of white caps and veils. You can start at the bottom of the page to see how the ideas evolved.

Well-to-do townswomen

Gowns worn by women of the highest social classes, characterised by lots of draping fabric, including full sleeves and skirts, and the use of gold decorative elements.

2018 – 1620s ensemble

Photo taken at Twelfth Night

For my Laurelling dress I wanted to go completely over the top.  The outfit consists of a stiffened stomacher worn over a black skirt and a large bum roll, topped by a black loose gown.

Things I like: this outfit requires a really impressive piece of fabric for the stomacher, and I was so lucky that my own Laurel happened to have just the right thing.  I also really like the way the stiffened shoulder wings on the loose gown came out.

Things I don’t like: I was unable to get the gold chain belt to play nicely, and I spent a lot of time fixing it or hiding it in pictures.  Otherwise, I’m pretty proud of this one.

2016 – Hendrick Avercamp outfit

Photo taken at Twelfth Night.

Outfit based on Avercamp’s genre paintings of outdoor winter scenes.

Things I like: just about all of it. I love the crazy hand sewn ruff and the ridiculously fluffy kilted up skirt. I’m particularly proud of the doublet which is beaded and trimmed with hand braided cord.

Things I don’t like: the bum roll supporting the black skirt was kindly loaned to me as I was running out time. Unfortunately, it comes a little too far around and distorts the front point of the doublet. This will be fixed when I make my own. Also, I may have made the ruff a little too tall. Next time, I will starch it into smaller sets.

2015 – 1560s ensemble

Photo taken at Collegium Occidentalis

The fitted gown was originally completed in 2012, but I had never really gotten a good picture of it. Nor had I every really felt exactly right in it, as I generally pulled it on over a front laced petticoat and apron to dress it up in the evening. This time I had a new, red, side lacing kirtle which I wore as a middle layer.

Things I like: it’s amazing that addition of an extra, mostly unseen layer, can completely change an outfit. I finally had enough skirts, and I’m sure it changed the way I moved in the outfit.

Things I don’t like: not much. Although now that I have the red kirtle, I feel like the sleeves should match it.

2015 – 1590s ensemble

Photo taken at Twelfth Night

This was the first time I really felt like I had all the parts on at once: Pot lid huik and veil, darted coif, giant ruff, new loose gown in a very dark navy, and new burgundy doublet.

Things I like: with the huik veil and dark loose gown, I feel like I’m getting lot closer to the right aesthetic.

Things I don’t like: the loose gown was hemmed too high and has some issues with the mock-fur lining which will need to be fixed. And somehow, every picture taken of me while I was wearing the huik was taken in the few minutes when I lost a pin and the hat had slid back.

2014 – Large 1590s ruff and yellow doublet

Photo taken at Twelfth Night

This was my first ruff, which I constructed with a lot of encouragement from Noel Gieleghem and the other friendly folks on the Elizabethan Costuming Facebook group.

Things I like: making a ruff introduced me to cooked starch, which is marvelous. I’m really pleased with the ruff and I continue to wear it a lot. The sleeves on the doublet are also fairly nice.

Things I don’t like: The cotton brocade doublet has some fitting issues, including being too short in the back. (Although that ended up being a positive, as it forced me to put on the loose gown to cover up the gaps. I hadn’t planned on it, but it turned out that the loose gown really finished the look.) The hat is really embarrassing because it was just the under coif. I had planned some sort of starched headdress, but I made a crucial mistake: I tried to put it on last. It turns out that you can’t reach your head very well in a five inch ruff.

2010 – Loose Gown

Photo taken in my backyard over a maternity dress.

This loose gown is made of black wool and trimmed with red silk and hand braided cord. It was intended to be worn closed as a maternity and nursing outfit, but I now wear generally wear it open over doublets. It really finishes off my 1590s outfits.

Things I like: just about everything. This was the beginning of my handmade trim obsession.

Things I don’t like: trimming the gown in red doesn’t really stick to the Dutch aesthetic. The wool may also be a bit too light weight, although in California that may not be a bad thing.

Huiks, caps and veils

16th century women in the Low Countries wore many 

2019 – Coif with insertion lace

Photo taken at home

Things I like: this was my first time inserting lace into the top seam of a coif, and I’m really happy with how well it matches the shape of the inspiration image.

Things I don’t like: the ongoing impossibility of finding linen that is fine enough. Comparing my work to the original painting makes it painfully clear that the coif is way too opaque to get the right effect.

2017 – Duck-billed huik

Photo taken at Mists Fall Investiture

Things I like: its a duck-billed huik! I’m delighted to finally have one. I originally tried to make one several years before, but I used wool that was too heavy. This one feels right and is a lot of fun to wear.

Things I don’t like: not much.

2015 – Coif with darted brim

Photo taken at the Arts and Sciences Tourney

Coif made with a separate brim darted into place, worn with a new, more delicate oorijzer, and over hair dressed high.

Things I like: very pleased with the brim and the way it separates from the rest of the cap to curl across my ears. It really ended up looking like the inspiration portrait. This oorijzer is my new favorite.

Things I don’t like: the body of the cap could stand to be a little longer in back. The device I made to dress my hair up involved a thin modern headband which did not play well with the oorijzer and gave me a headache.

2015 – Swallow-tailed veil

Selfie taken after Crosston Dance Ball

Things I like: a friend of mine who does more Medieval clothes nicknamed the tails “face tippets”. It’s fun to wear.

Things I don’t like: the amount the veil stands away from my face may be inconsistent with the width of the tails. I will keep it a little closer to my head next time. 

2014 – Coif with darts

Silly selfie.

Over-coif with darts taken into the main body of the cap to control the fullness.

Things I like: the combination of darts and starch makes a very solid structure which can survive hours of having a huik on top of it. It’s like having little wing and it is a ton of fun to wear.

Things I don’t like: the cap could stand to be a little bit longer on the sides.

2014 – “Snub-nosed” huik veil

Photo taken at home.

The veil portion of the pot-lid huik is a separate piece, and can be worn on its own as well as under the hat.

Things I like: it took a couple of tries, but the stiffened, tear drop shape at the top of the head, seems exactly right. The veil stays on with just a couple of pins, and is lightweight enough to swirl nicely. It completes the pot-lid huik, but I wear it on its own a lot with my 1560s outfit. The pot lid really requires 1590s ruffs and doublets, and I’m not always up for that.

Things I don’t like: not much.

2014 – Oorijzer, version 2

Photo taken at home.

Things I like: working with wire wasn’t that horrible, and it’s an oorijzer! Unlike my first one, this one is much closer to the proper shape with the hoop part at the nape of my neck. The loop at the bottom of the “arm” keeps the hats from slips off the end.

Things I don’t like: the wire is both too stiff to shape easily, and too malleable to always keep its exact shape. It occasionally needs to be re-bent. Fixing these problems will likely require metal working skills which are out of my wheelhouse.

2014 – Oorijzer, version 1

Photo excitedly taken at home right after it was made.

I probably first heard about oorijzers (ear irons) from the folks in the Elizabethan Costuming Facebook group, although I can’t recall at this point. As soon as I did it was like a lightbulb went off. It seemed like the answer to everything. The only problem was that I had no metal working skills, so I had to jury-rig one.

Things I like: it’s an oorijzer! It held the over cap out away from my face in the classic “Dutch” heart shape. It worked fairly well even if you were too impatient for starch, as in this picture.

Things I don’t like: it’s made from a modern headband, made of metal with ribbon wrapped around it, and a pair of hoop earrings I flattened out. I sewed the two parts together. Because the end was smooth, it was very difficult to keep the corner of my cap pinned to it. 

2013 – Pot-lid style huik hat

Photo taken at Mists Coronet

A headdress which seems to be unique to the Antwerp area from the 1590s on.

Things I like: the proportions of the hat are just about perfect. Wearing this hat is a lot of fun.

Things I don’t like: I originally made this hat with needlepoint canvas and wire, which was not strong enough, and allowed the hat to collapse along the radius. In 2014 I remade the hat with two layers of millinery buckram and a few concentric rings of bamboo pulled from an Asian cone shaped hat. The hat is now structurally sound, but a bit heavy.

2012 – “Flemish” veil

Photo taken at Twelfth Night

Things I like: this was my first attempt to use starch, and the end result was reasonably close to the portrait I was copying. I very pleased with it at the time.

Things I don’t like: I used spray starch, and it just wasn’t up to the task. The veil was pretty droopy by the end of the day. 


The Flemish market girl style is the one most commonly associated with the Low Countries, and where my interest in this region and time period started. I’ve also built some of the peasant styles of the Noord Holland region

2016/2017 – Noord Holland outfit

Photos taken at Golden Beltane and Collegium Occidentalis

Peasant outfit from Northern Holland, lovingly referred to as the “Cheese Girl” look. Outfit consists of a various partlets and a small jacket with pin on sleeves worn over a petticoat with a red wool skirt.

Things I like: it’s a really fun outfit to wear, particularly after I added the fur partlet. The short skirts are useful for being outdoors.

Things I don’t like: I have yet to find a headdress style that really works with this outfit. The pictures show a wide variety of possibilities, but I have yet to find one I can consistently reproduce. So I end up wearing it with exposed braids a lot of the time, which is probably only a style suitable to unmarried women. Also, much as I love the burgundy, the skirts should probably be a much brighter red.

2014 – Flemish market girl, version 3

Photo taken at Crosston Dance Ball, 2016

Yet another market outfit. This time with a front lacing petticoat and a pinned-on placket under the open laced dress.

Things I like: pinning a placket on is fast. Mine is a single layer of cloth, and even without stiffening, it doesn’t wrinkle too much. If I become too hot, I can take off the yellow dress and just go out in the petticoat and partlet.

Things I don’t like: the cut of the overdress is fine, but I really dislike the color. Lining the skirt in a dark blue was a mistake as it shows through the wool, and makes the color even worse. I suspect that the blue, which was sold to me as linen, is some sort of blend.

2011 – Flemish market girl, version 2

Photo taken at Cynagua-Mists.

This dress was made to test the construction theory suggested by a Martin Van Cleeve painting, and re-made from my original market girl outfit. I was also testing out having the bodice and skirt being made from different fabrics. The veil is wired, and represents my first attempt to really make a Dutch veil.

Things I like: the integral front placket under the laces allows this outfit to be only one layer.

Things I don’t like: the bodice is not as supportive as my usual base layer. I had not yet achieved a stable hairstyle, so in this picture my braids are sliding off the back of my head and taking the cap and veil with them. Also, the veil has a wire, which I haven’t done since I discovered starch.

2007 – Breughel Over-gown

Photo taken at June Crown in 2011

Things I like: the color is one of my favorites and the cross over front is allows for a nice, adjustable fit. The bell shaped sleeves are a lot of fun.

Things I don’t like: the color is probably wrong, and it’s made of heavy cotton flannel. The armsrye has become too tight.

2005 – Breughel outfit

Photo taken at Pennsic 2006, in the dark and with campfire smoke.

Things I like: that it was a complete outfit, comfortable for camping events, and that it included a crazy hat. I was particularly proud of the hat at the time.

Things I don’t like: all the material is cotton. The sleeve cap was too short and never stayed pinned. The hat achieves the right shape, but the construction is completely wrong.