of Medieval Women's Clothing
Many items of medieval clothing are
known by more than name which makes it confusing for the beginner
sewer. The basic medieval dress may be known at different periods
of time or different regions as different things. Thus,
a tunic, kirtle, kyrtle, cote or gown
may be essentially the same garment; or at other time periods,
a completely different one.
The following pages look at the different
pieces of clothing and dress accessories which make up a medieval
What the early medieval woman wore
A look at the basic 14th century medieval dress
The outer layers of clothing
The late medieval outer gown
The Burgundian gown and late medieval gowns
For the medieval mother-to-be
The medieval cloak and mantle
What they were and what they weren't
A lady's underclothes reveal'd
- CHEMISES - The
chemise, shift or smock
- BREAST COVERINGS
- Bras, support and structure
- What did they wear 'down there?'
- HOSE & GARTERS
- Leg coverings and support
What to wear to bed
What to wear on your head.
Some information from archaeological
sewing finds on existing garments from both before and after this
time period have been included in this website. The number of
entire garments from within the 14th century is extremely limited
to fragments and state robes or ecclesiastic garments which are
not an accurate portrayal of general clothing, although excellent
as a examples of medieval workmanship.
An Upwardly Mobile
she is Italian and my main field of interest is English, I've
chosen Margherita Datini, the wife of a wealthy merchant and a
member of the upper classes, to serve as our model medieval woman.
She is pictured at right.
She is not nobility, so her wardrobe is less than those stationed
above her, but she is a city dweller and quite well-off, so items
she owns might reasonably be owned by other women who share her
She is fashionable, but also mindful of being seen in society
as a "good" woman, so as not to tarnish her husband's
reputation or business.
Her wardrobe is listed concisely in 1339. It included 2 gowns,
11 surcotes of differing cut and fullness, and a rich overgown
of heavy silk which her husband Francesco Datini had imported
from Romania. She had six cold weather mantles, also full-cut.
This gives us an idea of the quantity of clothing a well-off townswoman
might reasonably expect to own.
What we don't see listed is her inventory of dress accessories-
fans, belts, gloves, veils and underthings. We do have some references
to some items, but not all.
Of interest also, it that Margherite
owns two gowns but many surcotes, which would have allowed her
to change her look without changing her basic dress underneath.