Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The ‘Material’ World of Medieval Times

In medieval life, clothes made the medieval man. The kind of clothing a person wore became the summary of credentials that distinguished him in society and in life. Since laws of the land dictated their options when they buy medieval clothing, society was immediately differentiated through the quality, cut, color, and material of clothing that its members wore. Indeed, it can be said that the medieval people lived in a “material” world.

From Medieval Clothing…

In such a pyramidal society where the elite are few and the common masses many, most of the population dressed simply and unremarkably. The masses wore home-made clothes, which were very simply cut and from cloth made in their villages. The most common material from which medieval wardrobes were made of was undyed wool and leather or fur obtained from hunting animals. Since sumptuary laws that had existed since Roman times restricted expenditures on clothing and food according to social rank, the peasantry wore mostly unadorned clothing.

The elite and the rich, however, had free reign over the degree of luxury they desired in their clothing. They imported silk and cotton and could meet the expense of bleached linen and dyed and simply patterned wool. Royalty and nobility wrapped themselves in richly embroidered fabrics, and extended their ostentatiousness through jewelry, buckles, purses, weapon fittings, and metalwork accessories. Medieval dresses of highborn women were hemmed with colorful borders and fine needlework.

…To Renaissance Costumes

When the golden era set in, wool was still the most popular fabric, next of which were linen and hemp. By now wool was available in a variety of qualities, from rough undyed cloth to fine, dense, and velvety broadcloth. During the Renaissance, costumes made of wool could be dyed in rich colors, most commonly reds, blues, greens, and golds.

With the dawn that announced this idyllic time came silk-weaving. Figured silks like silk velvets with silver-gilt wefts were most often seen on the well-heeled Italians, gradually catching fire with the rest of wealthy Europe. The refined flamboyance of China eventually reached the Ottoman civilization in the form of stately floral designs in pomegranate or artichoke motifs. Through the Ottomans, the Western world embraced the trend.

En Vogue: Elaborate

It was not long before elaborate became en vogue. Slashing emerged from Germany, a style of Renaissance clothing for sale at the time that revealed a different texture or color of clothing beneath the outer fabric. Perhaps the undying chicness of black became established during the Renaissance, when polite society began to wear it to formal events.

The mere ruffle at the neckline bloomed into the cartwheel-shaped ruff that marked Elizabethan fashion and into very grandiose designs made of Italian linen lace and wire-supported. As well, exquisite needlelace with scrolling designs flowered from Italy and spread to the continent. The grandiosity in clothing peaked with the stylish Tudors’ clothes, which embraced rich, heavy brocades and gold-shot fabrics encrusted with jewels.


Berry Sweis writes articles related to renaissance clothing and medieval costume. You can find more information about medieval costume at our web site.

Medieval Costume: Choosing the Right One for Your Party

Choosing a costume for a special occasion can be daunting task. Not only do you need to look good, you also need to be exceptional and stand out from the rest of the crowd. In order to achieve this goal, you need to be specific about the costume you want to wear for a party.

If you like to relive and revive the elegance of the past through a medieval costume, you certainly won’t ran out of ideas. You can be a pirate or a knight. Or for girls, you can be a fairy-tale damsel. The medieval age may not be the best era to live in but, surprisingly, medieval fashion is among the most popular costumes for all ages.

Choosing the right medieval clothes for your party can be time-consuming yet rewarding. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your costume.

The Theme

You won’t have any problems if it’s a general theme. You can wear anything so long as it will make you look “medieval.” But you might run into some difficulties if the theme is about princesses or pirates. In that case, find an appropriate costume online since Internet retailers usually display a wide variety of medieval clothing.

The Occasion

As for the occasion, check out the invitation card. Is it for a wedding? Or do you need to dress up for a bachelor’s party? There’s an appropriate medieval costume for each party as there can be no catch-all dress. As mentioned earlier, looking for medieval costume ideas can be made easier by browsing through online retail shop that sells vintage clothes.

Your budget

How much are you willing to spend for your costume? The budget you set will determine the quality of dress you get. Purchasing from online retailers can be cost-effective since most of them sell clothes at a much lower price as compared with shopping mall stores. Most of these retailers have been in the business for years and ship worldwide. Buying a set instead of purchasing per piece may also help you save more. If you’re on a tight budget, online shopping can still offer something for you. But don’t settle for a cheap costume that might only double your expenses in the long run.

These are just among those factors you need to consider when choosing a medieval costume for any occasion. These three are constant whether you’re selecting a dress for a prom or a gown for your wedding.


Berry Sweis writes articles related to wench costume and medieval costume. You can find more information about medieval costume at our web site.

Knightly Clothing in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, clothing strictly dictated the social status of a person. Called the sumptuary laws, the edict on dress code and other expenses that medieval society had limited such according to class; only royalty were allowed to own and wear the richest, most luxurious items, while the poorest of the poor were the most modestly dressed of all classes. Buying clothing in medieval times was limited according to wealth and social rank.

With such declaration, the social structure was thus maintained. Everyone knew their place and just from one look at a person’s clothes, medieval society knew what he or she does for a living or else, his or her status in society. Just as peasants, merchants, nobility, and royalty can be known through their clothes, knights had their distinctive attire that lets others know what they are at a glance.

The Proverbial Shining Armor

The knights were an outcome of the feudal system that existed in the Middle Ages. They would go to war for their lords, to acquire lands or else valuable spoils from their belligerent exploits. In order to successfully fulfill this role, knights often wore protection when going fighting. Protection often consisted of a suit of metal armor that covered them from head to toe. The finer the suit of armor was, the more important the knight was in society.

The head was usually covered by a helmet, with or without a hinged visor that protected the eyes. Breastplates and back armor protected the vital organs of the chest, back abdomen, while greaves protected the calves and shins. There were plates of armor that covered the kneecap, thigh, and feet. As well, the arms, hands and even the vulnerable armpits were covered with plates of armor.

In earlier times, chainmail was used as protection. The mail consisted of fine metal rings that covered the trunk, arms, legs, and up to the neck and head. Sometimes, chainmail was used beneath the suit of armor.

Like Any Other Man Underneath It All

However, underneath a 40- to 60- pound metal suit of armor, or movement-restricting chainmail, every knight dressed the same as a civilian of his rank. The bottommost layer of clothing consisted of a linen undershirt and linen underpants. The knight then wore woolen stockings over his bare legs. Next, padding consisted of a quilted coat was worn, known by various names such as doublet, gambeson, and arming coat. A surcoat was a robe tied with a belt at the waist and emblazoned with the coat of arms or device that identifies the knight during battle. All the layers of clothing would be necessary to keep the knight from chafing once the armor is worn.

Being of such vital significance to the feudal way of life, knights in society were stationed somewhere above peasantry and below or, in many occasions, with the aristocracy. Nevertheless, they were the wealthiest soldiers of the medieval kingdom, as their medieval clothing may accordingly confirm.


Berry Sweis writes articles related to renaissance costume and medieval clothing. You can find more information about medieval clothing at our web site.