A Comprehensive Guide to Medieval Clothing

The Middle Ages were a period of great change and development in the world of fashion. While most peasant women knitted their fabrics and then made their own clothes, the wealthy had access to tailors, fur shops, and embroiderers. The richest, like royalty, had all these artisans on staff, sometimes one for every adult in the house. Clothes were often made of wool, although silk and brocade items could be saved for special occasions.

Outerwear made of goat or even camel hair kept the rich warm in winter. Fur was an obvious way to improve insulation and provide decorative ornaments; the most common were rabbit, lambskin, beaver, fox, otter, squirrel, ermine and sabre. Greater decoration was achieved by adding tassels, fringes, feathers, and embroidered designs, while more expensive additions included precious metal stitching and buttons, glass beads and cabochons, or semiprecious stones. The taste for colors was the brighter, the better, with crimson, blue, yellow, green and purple being the most popular options in all types of clothing.

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.These images (above) show the costume worn by the rich in the early Middle Ages. The most expensive garments were generally not distinguished by their design, but by the use of superior materials and the cut. During the 15th century, fashion was characterized by a series of extremes and extravagances, and the Houppelandans were among the outfits that devastated the first floor that were introduced at the beginning of this era of extreme clothing. Short suits were derived from the combination of the daily clothing of the Roman Empire and the short tunics worn by the invading barbarians, while long suits came from the mix of the clothing of the classes of the upper Roman Empire and were influenced by Byzantine dresses.King Edward III passed sumptuary laws to regulate the dress of different classes of English people, promote English dress, and preserve class distinctions through disguise, clothing, and dress.

The innermost layer of clothing were pants which were loose-fitting underwear made of linen and held by a belt. The Crusades and Marco Polo's adventures introduced new cultural influences, fabrics and technological advances in medieval European garments. They were referring to workers who were provided with work clothes by their employer as part of their salary.Dyes were common so even lower-class peasants used to wear colorful clothes. This began when different experiments with different types of medieval clothing were used to dress a certain individual.

The king could now make his empire unique by using different color combinations and have citizens wear clothes that differentiated them from each other. The shoes made of fabric or leather were closed with inner laces a strap or a buckle which constituted another opportunity for decoration and personalization.For more information on medieval clothing, Anthony Esolen's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization is a great resource. The clothes of aristocracy and wealthy merchants used to be made and changed according to fashion dictates. The Medieval Tailor's Assistant by Sara Thursfield is also an excellent source if you want to learn how to make medieval costumes.

To go out a cape or cloak was used which was generally made of an approximately circular or rectangular piece of fabric that could also be lined with leather.

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