A Comprehensive Guide to Medieval Clothing

The medieval period in England is a time period that is usually classified as the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance, which is roughly between 410 and 1485 A. D. During this time, clothing was heavily influenced by the kings and queens of the time, and was also affected by sumptuary laws that restricted ordinary people in their spending, including money spent on clothes. Depending on one's wealth, clothing could range from luxurious silks to simple woolen garments.

If you were wealthy, you would likely have a variety of clothes in the latest styles and colors. However, if you were a poor peasant, you could only have one robe. Although it was possible to obtain silks and other luxurious materials from abroad, they were very expensive. Therefore, most of the clothes were made of wool.

This meant that clothing from medieval times itched, was difficult to wash and dry, and was very hot in summer. Most people in the Middle Ages wore woolen clothes, with underwear made of linen.Brighter colors, better materials, and a longer jacket used to be signs of greater wealth. The clothes of the aristocracy and wealthy merchants were often made and changed according to the dictates of fashion. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, men from the wealthy classes wore pants and a jacket, often with pleats or skirts, or a tunic with an overcoat.

Women wore loose-fitting dresses and elaborate hats, which ranged from headdresses with hearts or butterflies to tall hats with bell towers and Italian turbans. Men wore them over tights or tight pants, women over long dresses. The tunics were made of hemp or thick wool or linen.A tunic can be worn over a light linen shirt. Linen can be woven in thick chunks, bought used, or delivered to an employer.

Lightweight linen shirts would be used for fieldwork in the warm months. For more information on medieval clothing and other conflicting facts from ancient and medieval history, see Anthony Esolen's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization.Silk was the most luxurious fabric available to medieval Europeans, and it was so expensive that only the upper classes and churchmen could afford it. The Crusades and the Adventures of Marco Polo introduced new cultural influences, fabrics and technological advances in medieval European garments.Illuminations, xylographs and other period works of art illustrate medieval people in bed in different outfits; some are naked, but others wear simple robes or shirts, others with sleeves. The Medieval Tailor's Assistant by Sara Thursfield is great if you want to learn how to make medieval costumes.For several peoples that lived in England during this time period - such as Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Danes, Normans and British - clothing differed greatly for men and women as well as for different classes of the social hierarchy.

The headpiece worn by people during this time immediately conveyed their rank.

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