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A Brief Introduction to Aristocratic Clothing in Medieval Times

Clothing in Medieval Times
Like today, clothing in medieval times was not worn just for protection against the elements, but was also an indication of the wearer's status in the society.
Rimlee Bhuyan
Last Updated: Aug 6, 2017
The medieval age was the period between 5th century BC to 15th century BC. It was a period of great upheavals and many battles and wars. The clothes that a person wore were an indication of the person's hierarchy in society, and the clothing of kings and noblemen were very different from the peasants.
Women's Clothing
Women in medieval times wore a fairly slender linen undergarment, or shift, with long, narrow sleeves. Linen was very expensive and poorer woman had no choice but to wear wool next to the skin. Women also wore stockings which were woven and then cut and sewn to fit the legs, and were held in place by knee garters fashioned of wool strips.
Long woolen gowns were worn over the shift and the quality and decoration of the dress would vary according to the wealth and class of the person. There was also a liberal use of different types of dyes, and women preferred bright and vivid colors like blue, green, violet, and yellow. These bright colors were reserved for noblewomen, and clothing color was what differentiated a peasant women from nobility. During the 5th and 6th centuries, women wore gowns that were simple sheets of fabric fastened together at the shoulders by beautiful brooches.
In the late 7th century, a new style in gowns emerged. The gowns during this period were ankle-length, with wide sleeves that came up to the elbow, and were slipped on over the head. Wide bands of contrasting colors were used for adorning these gowns. A jeweled belt or girdle was worn over the gown. By the 11th century, the gowns became more structured and tailored with contrasting colors of the cuffs, collars, and hem. The use of the girdle also decreased. By the end of the 12th century, tight lacing was used on women's clothes to create a form-fitting shape, and which made the waist appear smaller. The cloaks became more ornate with the use of embellishments and embroidery, and gold, silver, and copper trimmings. Fashion in medieval times was restricted to the nobility, and common people generally wore rough tunics made of wool. During the late medieval period, women used veils to cover their faces and draped their throat with coverings called wimples.
Men's Clothing
Medieval clothing for aristocratic men consisted of a shirt which was plain, light, and made of linen. It was worn next to the skin and the linen kept the skin from getting irritated. Men used to wear tight fitting legging like pants on their legs, held at the waist by woven belt or strips of leather. In the 5th and the 6th century, tunics were short and sleeveless, and they were clinched at the waist. After the 7th century, noblemen wore a kind of heavy, decorated gown, called a houppelande. The sleeves were very voluminous, but they were tight around the wrist. They wore leather belts with attached purses. Around the 11th century, men wore very long, almost calf length, tunics. The clothing of peasants in medieval times was basically meant for practicality rather than for any decorative purposes. The peasants wore short woolen tunics belted at the waist over coarse woolen pants.
Thus clothing in medieval times went through a lot of changes, beginning from the 5th century to the 15th century. Only royalty wore velvet and the color purple on their gowns. Wool was worn both by the aristocracy as well as the common people.
Beautiful Woman in blue dress
medieval woman in blue dress
woman in ankle length dress