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Medieval Fashion

Medieval life and Times

Medieval Fashion

Medieval fashion during the the Middle Ages was dominated and highly influenced by the Kings and Queens of the era. Only the wealthy could dress in fashionable clothes. Sumptuary Laws  restricted ordinary people in their expenditure including money spent on clothes, which impacted Medieval fashion.

Under the Sumptuary Laws passed by King Edward III only royalty were allowed to wear cloth of gold and purple silk. Expensive veils were banned for lower class women. Only the wives or daughters of nobles were allowed to wear velvet, satin sable or ermine. Medieval Fashion changed with each king and queen. Different events which occurred during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages also affected fashion.

Medieval Sumptuary Laws

Medieval Fashion - The Influence of the Crusades
The Crusades was probably the greatest influence on Medieval Fashion when fine silks, satins, damasks, brocades, and velvets were imported from the Far East. The Medieval fashion worn in the royal courts in Medieval Times were imitated across Europe. Fashions in France, Spain and Italy strongly influenced the fashions of Medieval England.

Overview of Medieval Fashion

  • People wore tunics, togas, trousers and laced sandals
  • The early Medieval period featured a simple shape with a long, wide gown decorated with embroidery at the edges or borders
  • Fitted tunics remained the basic item of clothes
  • Hose took the place of trousers
  • By 1200 tight lacing was used on women's clothes to create a form fitting shape which, girdled at the hips, created a long-waisted appearance
  • Gowns and sleeves were long and trailing
  • The length of men's clothing became shorter
  • Burgundian styles influenced the fashion with tight, short clothes for men and long pointed shoes. The longer the points, the higher the status.
  • The women's headdresses were also long and pointed. It was also fashionable to wear the high double horn headdresses
  • The tunic was narrowed and evolved into the doublet
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