Overcoming Common Stallholder Clothing Problems

The same concerns about wearing proper medieval clothing at a stall or as a food vendor or as a musician or performer crop up again and again. This page will address the most common complaints about wearing and working in medieval clothing.

Medieval clothing is uncomfortable and not practical. I hate the big sleeves and the corset is too tight. I can't work like that!
You're not expected to! Big, wide sleeves were generally worn by the upper classes, which you are not. Your sleeves would be tighter fitting from the elbow to the wrist or wide enough to roll up. In the middle ages, both men and women wore looser fitting tunics and dresses that pulled on over the head and tightened at the waist with a long, thin belt. The armholes were a little roomier at the shoulders to permit workers full movement without restricting clothes. Think of those comfy kaftans of the 70s and you're heading in the right direction. You may like to lace your tunic up at the front for a tighter fit, but you certainly don't have to. If you are lacing up, you must lace your garment entirely closed, not with the wide criss-cross lacing you might see in Disney movies. Corsets are completely not medieval, so you won't be wearing one.

Shown above at right is Mickey, wearing a plain white tunic with a shorter overtunic in a contrasting blue colour which still leaves the hands free for working. Most medieval outfits had at least two layers. If you are wearing two, this is another chance for you to brighten things up with your colours. A blue dress over a green one. A red dress over a brown one. A colourful hood! Your options are almost unlimited!

I feel and look really stupid in a veil.
Why should I wear one?

Ladies, no decent working class woman would leave her hair uncovered in public! Not only was it regarded as unseemly, it gets tangled as you work. Your veil or headscarf will not only enhance your overall look, but will protect you from sunburn or cold. Food vendors, you need something to tie your hair back with anyway to meet your workplace health and safety guidelines, so a veil or scarf is just perfect for that! You might feel silly at first, but as the compliments about how much of a real medieval woman you look like start coming, you may change your tune.

Shown at right is Annette, looking feminine and keeping the elements off in a veil-and-wimple combination. More hat, hood, headwear options and veil tying ideas can be found on the HEADWEAR page.

I'm not wearing tights!
Men, if the thought of fitted hose doesn't appeal to you, try plain, fitted drawstring trousers which are much like pyjama bottoms. For the more adventurous, actual hose really isn't much more than that. Good medieval colours for hose are black, navy, blue, green, brown, burgundy and red. Red was by far the most popular choice. Men, check the
STALLWEAR FOR MEN page for ideas.

Having an outfit made is really expensive. I'm on a budget here!
Think back to that comfy 70's kaftan... made in a light linen blend or homespun cotton in a nice colour, it'll cost less than you think. A very basic one for a man or woman has only two side seams. Spotlight sells cotton/linen blends in nice colours for about $12.99/m and you only need a couple of metres. You can possibly make one yourself or talk a friend into it once they see what your pattern looks like. It isn't as complicated as the ones you buy from the shop, which are mostly fantasy. There are patterns and tutorials on the

My outfit looks boring.
What can I do to make it look better?

You can do exactly what real medieval people did. Put some thought into your colour combinations and add some accessories- a coloured leather pouch, an apron, felt hat or veil and why not some jewellery? Both men and women wore cheap pewter badges, and so can you.

At right, a 14th century hawking badge which sells for about $15.

If you like, you can add a wrap-around cloak and fasten it with a brooch. Your cloak can be just a rectangle, nothing fancy. Simple and yet fantastic-looking! You can wear it year after year and it will last for a very long time.

Keep your mobile phone in a colourful drawstring leather pouch and choose a colour which contrasts with your outfit. You can use a contrasting colour for the drawstrings.

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