A MEDIEVAL WOMAN'S LIFE - AT HOME
- BIRTHS - WEDDINGS - DIVORCE - DEATHS - MANNERS - EDUCATION - EMPLOYMENT
CLOTHES - ITEMS OF CLOTHING - DRESS ACCESSORIES FABRICS & SEWING BEAUTY, HEALTH & HYGIENE MY TALKS MY SEWING MY ARTIFACTS BIBLIOGRAPHY LINKS
Medieval Clothing & Dress Accessories
Medieval clothing is an immensely broad term, covering the basic tunics of the 10th century, the cottes and bliants of the 12th and 13th centuries, the fitted kirtles, gowns and cotes of the 14th and 15th centuries to the massive houppelands and Burgundian gowns of the later 15th century.
What I will be primarily dealing with in this website is the 14th century woman's garments- what they looked like and how they were put together. There is a little general information either side as the lower classes clothing did not differ greatly during a few hundred years. There is a little about the clothing of other clothing.
The 14th century outfit comprised of many layers. The chemise or smock of fine linen was worn next to the skin along with any undergarments. The kirtle or gown, a fitted dress, was worn over that. A surcote of some kind was usually worn by women who could afford to do so as a fashion statement or by other women if it was cooler. This garment could have sleeves and be almost identical to the dress which was under it or be sideless to show off the garment underneath. For traveling, another more voluminous surcote might be added as well as a cloak.
As fabric was handmade and very expensive, clothing was seen as a status symbol- the richer the wearer, the better quality and more costly the fabric and the more voluminous the garments. Wealthier persons wore more layers, often lined with expensive furs in winter, while those with a more moderate income wore less layers which were often unlined. Sumptuary Laws concerned themselves with expensive dress and attempted to limit the fabrics and furs which were permitted to each class of person. The laws of 1363 condemned 'outrageous and excessive apparel of diverse people, contrary to their estate and degree' and were exceedingly specific as to what fabrics and furs were permitted to whom.
The pages which look at aspects of women's clothing are as follows:
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