Shirts, shifts, and so on were still built of rectangles, regardless of the level of fancy embroidery - when fabric is made by hand from the ground (or the sheep) up, sensible folks don't waste a thread of it! This 16th century example from the Victoria and Albert illustrates the simplicity of pattern - four big rectangles, an assortment of smaller ones.
So back to the drawing board. Fiddling with proportions of a muslin finally gave me this pattern (with the later addition of underarm gussets) that fit Himself very well and gave the right look, and so I started work on designing an original blackwork pattern to decorate it.
About this time, the Kenneth Brannagh "Othello" (starring Laurence Fishburne) came out. The scene where Desdemona's father is dragged out into the streets half-dressed caught my eye -the front of the shirt he wore was covered with black embroidery.... hmmmmm.... I had developed a meander pattern I liked very much. How to use it?
The blackwork had to be done first, on whole cloth. Since the fabric was not evenweave, I had to be sure that all the embroidery went in the same "direction" to avoid distortions in the pattern; a double meander was used around the front opening and on the cuffs and collar, while a single meander was worked on the visible portion of each pleat.
Finally, the whole thing was assembled, using butted seams with paris-point stitching for a very light bit of openwork; there are pleats at the back of the neck that mirror those on the shirt front, though of course without embroidery. Altogether, whole cloth to finished garment, this one took almost a year to finish.