Clothing in Middle Ages

The middle age was one of the defining eras in the world history. The culture, rituals, and clothing patterns in middle ages was very peculiar of those times. Read on to learn more on the middle age clothing and attire.
In European history, the Middle ages refer to a period between falling of the western Roman Empire due to the Norman conquest of 1066 AD to the middle of the fifteenth century, 1565 AD to be precise, which also was the start of the Renaissance in Italy. This period included the first sustained efforts towards comprehensive urbanization of northern and western Europe. Most of the modern European nations originated due to the events that unfolded in the Middle Ages. This includes the present political boundaries of European nations, which are a result of the military and dynastic issues of this era. The study of middle age culture and way of living is very vast, and has always been a subject of interest for historians. Fashion Middle Ages is a small part of this study, and here is a brief and interesting viewpoint to this aspect of the clothing in the Medieval Times.

Clothing in Medieval Times

The history of clothing in Middle Ages was governed by the sumptuary Laws prevalent in those times. These Laws defined several social classes and distinguished members of each class easily on the basis of their clothing. In the Middle Ages, clothing and fashion was prescribed by the Pyramid of Power, like everything else. This pyramid, also known as feudalism, ensured that clothes provided information about the status of the person who wears them in the society.

Common Women's Clothing: Women of the medieval age wore fairly slender linen undergarment, or a slip. As linen was very expensive at that time, poorer women were left with no choice but to put on woolens next to the skin. Women have been known to wear stockings which were woven and knee garters were used to hold them in place. In the middle of the 11th century, gowns had become highly structured and were tailored using cuffs, collars and hem of contrast colors. The use of girdle saw a decline in this century and by the end of the 12th century, tight laces were used to create a tight fitting shape in order to make the waist look smaller. The cloaks worn became highly ornate by the use of embroidery and gold, silver and copper trimmings.

Common Men's Clothing: A common working class man during the middle age wore a type of heavily decorated gown called a houppelande. It had very voluminous sleeves which would fit tightly around the wrist. The men would wear leather belts which had an attached purse. After the 11th century, men would sport very long length tunics which would go up to the calf. The clothing in middle ages for peasants was basically intended for practicality rand had no decorative purpose. They would wear short woolen tunic, which was belted at the waist with woolen pants of coarse material.

Aristocrats and Royals: Rich, well to do people and members of a royal family had completely distinguishing attire altogether. To dress up, a wealthy woman would choose some elaborate gown which would be specially designed and would top it with some elaborate head cover. They would make sure that the gown is made of a quality material like satin and there is beautiful and elegant lace work in rich colors. A rich man from the medieval period would dress up by wearing a jacket or a hose. This also included tunics along with surcoats. The sleeve designs would be elaborate and made of a shiny matter like silk or satin and accessorized with belts, boots and a sword.

Knight Clothing: The Suit of Armor sported by a knight was designed to provide comfort as well as protection to the wearer. The inners consisted linen under-shirts and pants made of linen. Legs were covered by woolen stockings. A padded garment consisting of quilted coat stuffed with linen was used. It was known by many names as Arming coat, Aketon, Gambeson, Doublet or Hacketon and served as padding if extra armor was to be worn over the top. A robe called Surcoat with a belt wound around the waist was covered over the body armor. It was decorated with coat of arms also known as device of the Knight which helped in identifying the knight during a battle.

This should sum up a brief about the clothing patterns in the middle ages which was one characteristic of that era. You can clearly see that the clothes in those times meant much more than concealment and described the society's hierarchy.
By Yash Gode
Last Updated: 9/29/2011
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