Medieval Fashion: For the Wealthy

Medieval Fashion

Fashion is a big part of history, and the medieval time period is no exception. Just like today, fashion was used in medieval times as an outward display of personality, status and wealth. Here are some interesting facts you may not have known about medieval fashion.

Only for the Wealthy

In medieval times, fashion was very important to the wealthy class. In fact, Sumptuary Laws forbade the lower class from wearing certain colours and fabrics. While it is hard to know the true historic accuracy of movies like ‘Ever After,’ it is very possible that lower class citizens were beaten and even imprisoned for impersonating royalty through dress.

While the lower class dressed in simple gowns (women) and tunics/slacks (men) made of linen or wool, the upper class had much more extravagant tastes. Silk, taffeta, velvet and damask were available to those who could afford it. Brightly coloured fabric was also much more expensive.

Women’s Fashion

The wealthy women of the Middle Ages wore long gowns with trains and sleeves that brushed the floor. These gowns often had lacing along the back or front that allowed the bodice to fit tightly against the body and flare out at the hips. It was common for dresses to be decorated with embroidery along the sleeves and hems. Women wore hats in a variety of shapes, including cones, hearts and even horns. These hats were often adorned with veils.

Men’s Fashion

Men usually wore tights or fitted trousers and a long tunic that was tied at the waist. Very wealthy men could afford jackets made of fine fabric with pleating or skirting along the bottom. The jacket sleeves were often split to allow the undershirt to show through. It was also common for men to wear padded or puffed sleeves. Men wore pointed shoes, and it has been said that the longer the point, the higher the man’s status. Men also wore hats, although they were much simpler than the women’s-they looked much like the modern-day beret.