Medieval costumes from the 11th to the 13th century were a representation of the people’s social standing. Members of the nobilities dressed a lot more affluently than those belonging to the lower social classes. People’s professions were also easily identified by the medieval clothing that they used. Back then, medieval costumes were an integral part of a social structure with a clear delineation between the rich and the poor.
For the men, the following are the usual medieval costumes:
Peasant men mostly wore woolen jackets with woolen pants or knickers, sometimes accented with a cotton shirt. Hats, socks and shoes are not an option to many peasants simply because they could not afford it.
Aristocratic men mostly wore a jacket and a hose. The sleeve designs for rich people were more elaborate than the working classes. Their medieval clothes were mostly made from expensive fabrics like silk and satin.
Nomadic barbarians’ clothes were made of fur, wool and leather to protect them from the cold climate of their region. They had long trousers and leather shoes.
Tunics were first worn loose but soon evolved into a tight fitting garment.
Most men wore their tunics up to the knees, but old men and monks wore them up to the ground. Kings and other members of the nobility also had their tunics up to their feet whenever there are formal occasions.
Trousers were Germanic and the Romans initially were not akin to it. However, the practicality of using trousers proved to be more potent than racial divisions that the Romans eventually got the wind of using it
Leather shoes are for those who can afford them. Before 1300 AD, shoes had square toes. Later, fashion got fancy that shoes had pointed or hooked toes.
For the women, the following were the medieval costumes:
Peasant women’s attire consisted of a long tunic commonly called kirtle usually made of wool and linen. They were sometimes laced in front like a corset or were laced down at the back.
Women endured the wearing of more than one layer of tunics for their medieval clothing, but they did not use knickers.
They never wore pants, but they sometimes had socks on.
Elite women wore fancy tall hats decorated to high heavens.
They thought it beautiful to have high foreheads, so they plucked hair from their foreheads.
The medieval dresses of wealthy women of the medieval age were elaborately done. In earlier medieval period, the attire used to consist of a long tunic like a gown and elaborate head covers.
Married women also wore tight fitting caps and nets over their hair, which was tied in a bun.
Others had veiled, and let their hair hang loose or braided. However, there was a time in history that letting ones hair loose is associated with witchcraft, so women had developed several styles of braiding the hair, which was usually done by hairdressers. However, not all women can afford to pay hairdressers or maids to do their hair thus they relied on their clothes and inherent features to beautify themselves.
More than today’s generation, people during the medieval age were more concerned at what they wore in relation to their standing in the society. The medieval costumes’ importance transcended more than the humans’ need for clothing and protection, to social acceptance based on the prevailing norms of the Middle Ages. Though not restricted in terms of design and creativity, people dressed according to their social class because of the affordability of medieval clothing.