The Teal Collection
(l. to r.) 
Man's Tunic, Belt, and Robe:
Polish, Circa 1740
*
Woman's Gown:
English: from the Court of King Charles I of England,
Circa 1749

 The Black and White Collection
(from l. to r.)
Man's Suit: ​English, Circa 1570
*
Woman's Gown: 

based on Portrait of Eleonora de Toledo by Bronzino,

Florentine, Circa 1550
*
Man's Doublet and Breeches:
Italian, Circa 1530
*
Woman's Gown:
Venetian, Circa 1495
*
Man's Doublet: 
Italian, Circa 1495



I have been creating historical clothing since the eighth grade, or in other words, for a really

*loooong* time. Since I construct these garments as well as wear them at events of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), I am helped immeasurably to get the clothing facts correct in my Historical Fiction and Historical Romance. Though I write fiction, I really prefer it be "fact-ion," that is, writing about historical incidents and items described in a story should be based on fact. 


I confess to taking shortcuts in my sewing: doing the long seams (for example: the skirt seams) by machine because I am not a full-time dressmaker and/or employ a staff of servants to care for our ancestral castle. I also believe in making the wearer as comfortable as possible within the "look" and proper fit of a period garment. (I promised my husband to never again sew 3mm. pearls on the *seat* of his pants). However, all of the garments I create are done with a great deal of hand finishing and embellishment. No hot glue guns for me! No sirree Bob! So, when I state that each bead is sewn on individually, and every aglet is crimped by yours truly, I can assure you I have the sore fingers to prove it. 


Because readers want authentic detail in books, wearing historic clothing gives me an ability to tell my readers exactly what they need to know about the clothing of the period?  How can you really explain how it feels to maneuver under all that fabric, or how each layer feels against your skin or the weight of the garment as you put it on, or how a corset constricts the body if you never wear the stuff? 

Please scroll down and click on the pictures to see the enlarged photos of some of my favorite pieces, which were displayed in the gallery areas of the Art Institute of New York City.

 The Blue Collection 
(from l. to r.)
 Zimarra (coat) and  Gammura (dress):
Italian, Circa 1550
*

Middle-Class Bodice and Skirt with Chemise: 
English or French, Circa 1570
*
 Silver-gray Gown with a Set of Ruffs: 
Based on the Darnley Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, 
English, Circa 1570

*
Bodice and Skirt:
English, Circa 1630
*

Blue Gown with Beaded Sleeves and Bodice: 
Italian, Circa 1495

Historical Clothing:Getting It Right in My Novels

Monica E. Spence

Author of Historical Fiction and Historical Romance

The Red Collection
(l. to r.) 
Gown: Florentine: 
Based on a Portrait of Laura Battiferri, Circa 1557-1558
*

Man's suit: Florentine:
Based on Garcia De Medici's Grave Clothes, Circa 1540
*

Gown: Florentine:
Based on a Portrait of Lucrezia Panciatrichi, Circa 1540

The Green Collection
Gamurra (dress):
Italian, circa 1600
*

Man's Doublet and Breeches: 
Italian, Circa 1530