1580s Italian Peasant Dress

February – September 2022

Campi’s peasant images have long been a source of costume inspiration. I’ve always wanted to do an homage to my favorite, The Fruit Seller but never found the right gold colored fabric. However this sunshine silk noil is pretty. A yellow dress was lacking in my Renaissance wardrobe so I picked up a conservative 4.5 yards of 45″.
The dress turned out fine, but all the accessories and trim were a challenge. I substituted a red necklace when nothing seemed to work for the shoulder ribbons. Finally it was time to take pictures and I managed to grab the wrong partlet. Leaving behind the one made specifically for this project — my pretty new Italian partlet with the big ruffles!! This is what happens when a year passes between finishing a project and getting around to actually photographing it. In the end, it’s still a fruit seller dress. If not The Fruit Seller dress. And I’m happy with how it turned out.
Jen Thompson of Festive Attyre, has a fabulous Italian Working-Class gallery if you’re looking for artwork inspiration. A selection of these paintings are in my own references page which is linked below.

The gamurra’s bodice is patterned after my 1490s Florentine servant, with a curved center front. The neckline was redrawn. Side back seams, so typical of 16th century Italian costume, were added. A side seam was also added for potential adjustments. It’s something I’ve been doing with all my gowns lately and is very discreet. The skirt is slightly gored with a 112″ hem.
Campi’s peasants are often shown wearing quite unstructured bodices. But not always. Vecellio’s, on the other hand, look smooth and fitted. I’m still pondering these mysteries and there are always a lot of decisions to be made. But this dress is designed for dancing, so is a bit more supportive with a coutil strength layer. It’s spiral laced. The hand sewn eyelets are reinforced from the inside with metal rings. A single spiral steel supports center front. The rest of the bodice is lightly boned in cable ties and I wear it with a wireless bra. The gamurra is comfortable and light-weight. Shoulder straps stay put, and there’s a little more coverage in the front.
Accessories worn here include a glass bead necklace, apron in Lagoon 5.3oz linen from Fabrics-Store, my Italian Flemish peasant partlet, the working class chemise, and a small bum pad to round out the look.