Side-Laced Cotehardie – I Think I Found It

After several days of searching through 15th century Dutch painters, I think I found what I am looking for.

Visitation – 1463
Master of the Life of the Virgin

  • Side-laced
  • No waist-line

I was so excited last night when I found the picture. I just sat and stared at it for several minutes with glee. But then today I actually read the title: The Visitation. That refers, again, to the point in the Bible when Elizabeth visits Mary, both of whom are pregnant.

Perhaps it’s time to throw in the towel and just admit that an un-waisted side-laced 15th century cotte was mainly used as a maternity dress. In another 500 years, when some futuristic SCA group is re-creating the 21st century, it would look pretty silly for the non-pregnant women to be wandering around in maternity wear. So until I find more evidence, either it’s a side-laced cotte with a waist-line or, if I want no waist-line,  it’s a front-laced cotte.

So what do I have so far?

15th century Flemish cottes could be either laced in the front or the sides, with the former being more common than the latter. But in my own interest, let’s start with the side-laced version. I have not been able to find many articles or writings on the side-laced kirtle, so hopefully what I’ve gathered will help others.

15th Century Northern European (Flemish) Cotehardies

The Deposition – 1470’s
Unknown Master

This is a great example of the side-laced cotehardie. In this painting you can see:


  • The lacing goes from the armpit down to the waist-line.
  • The eyelets are off-set and the lacing is done using a spiral lacing method.


  • A cute little bit of trim on the sleeve edge


  • The dress has a waist-line. The skirt is separate from the bodice.

If you look at the skirt edge, the gown is lined with a green fabric all the way down to the hem.

The Deposition – 1455
Dieric Bouts

Since Mary Magdalene is wearing the dress, I’m assuming that she’s not pregnant.


  • Side laced
  • Lacing runs from slightly under the armpit to the lower hip or thigh


  • Waist line
  • Large pleats in the front

If you look at the rolled up hem, the gown is lined with a grey fabric.

Rogier van der Weyden

This one is, of course, the pregnant Elizabeth.


  • Side lacing goes from slightly under th armpit to slightly below the waist
  • Spiral laced, but laced skipping every other hole


  • No waistline, which makes sense if it’s maternity garb


  • Hem is edged in fur or fur-like trim

I have a few more iffy pictures that could be side-laced, but, until I get versions of them with better resolution, I’m not willing to assume that they are side-laced.

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