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Men's Fashions of the Medieval Era

Men's Fashions of the Medieval Era

The Middle Ages is the period of European history encompassing the 5th to the 15th centuries. During this period men's clothing changed much more rapidly than women's styles; and both the men and women of lower social classes continued to wear styles from previous centuries.


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Anastasia Romanova

Anastasia Romanova

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Essentially, a knight's armor went through three stages: leather armor, chain mail armor, and lastly plate mail armor. The first stage is leather armor. Knights could fasten leather as armor to protect most of their body ranging from their feet, legs, chest, arms, and even their head. [...] The next evolution was the adoption of chain mail. Like leather armor, chain mail could be assembled to any part of the body, however chain mail was often composes of many metallic rings that were assembled together to form a barrier. [...] The last innovation was the adoption of plate mail. Plate mail is composed of parts of metal that protect a certain region of the body.

Article: Historical Clothing of th...
Source: Bright Hub Education

Fashions of the Late Middle Ages were influenced by the Gothic style, a look that accentuated slenderness and an elongated form for both men and women. The display of a coat of arms became popular as did parti-colored garments. In an unusual design, garments were made of two colors. Today, we mix colors horizontally, as in different colors in a shirt and pants or skirt. Parti-colored garments created a vertical color difference with a split vertical dividing line in the center of the body.

Article: Fashion History of the Hi...
Source: HubPages

Some odd shoe fashions developed in the middle ages. One being the Poulaine or Crakow shoe which began to appear in western Europe in the 12 century. Rumor has it that they were developed and popularized by Count Fuld of Anjou who needed to cover up some kind of deformity but it is more likely a style adopted by the Crusaders who were influenced by the traditional pointed toed footwear found in the near/middle east. So again we are back to the pointed toes. Pointed toes are hardly odd, but the fact that they became hugely exaggerated is. The toe gradually became longer and longer to the point of absurdity for some were so long it was difficult to walk. Some even attached small bells to the end to indicate they were interested in a little flirtation.

Article: The Middle Ages: OH LORD ...
Source: Head Over Heels - The His...

The significance of color for men's fashion in the late Middle Ages […] cannot be underestimated. Twelfth-century heraldry reinforced the importance of colors. Gold stood for virtue and prestige, purple for majesty, green for hope, joy, and resurrection. Color was a type of magic, and dyers were sometimes associated with alchemy and deceit. Color was also about status and belonging, as, for example, the "livery" or issues of clothes presented to retainers, from Ezekiel's vision of Eden to Neoplatonic ideas concerning the power of light.

Article:   The Men's Fashion Reader
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

Through out the Middle Ages (especially in Northwestern Europe) clothing was typically worn in layers, the chemise (a linen under-shirt) servers as the foundation of the wardrobe in which an additional linen, wool or silk kirtle was worn over it. The nature of this garment is probably to retain additional body heat, by the 13th century the chemise became smaller closer-fitting simple white linen shirt. When worn under a kirtle or cotte of the period the chemise would be virtually covered and concealed from sight, for exception, at the collar possibly. Not only do contemporary illustrations bare evidence of the existence of this undershirt in this time period, but a similar linen shirt to the ones see in such records survives in a relative preserved condition to this day. The shirt is said to have belonged to St. Louis (King Louis IX of France) and is known as the St. Louis Shirt.

Article: Costume of Western Europe...

As with today, clothing styles of medieval men changed periodically. At the end of the 13th century, the once loose and flowing tunics became tighter fitting. Besides tunics, the men also wore undershirts and briefs covered by a sleeveless jacket and an additional tunic. Stockings completed the ensemble. Men's medieval clothing also consisted of cloaks with a round opening that was slipped over the man's head. Such cloaks were worn over other clothing as a type of "jacket".

Article: Medieval Clothing
Source: Medieval Life

Earlier, the breeches of the wealthy were cut narrower and those of laborers fuller, both usually cross-gartered below the knee. The styles of the early 1100s were marked by their length, and the overtunic was replaced by an Oriental import known as the bliaut. Everything, including the sleeves, was long, full, and trailing. Men's clothing in the remainder of the 1100s and during the 1200s displayed variations of length, fullness, and decoration and different names for what were essentially the same garments. A notable change was that the hood became a separate garment. Later in the period, the hood—with its pointed end, the liripipe, and short shoulder cape—became a hat worn by putting the head into the hole originally intended for the face and wrapping the extended liripipe around the head in turban fashion.

Article: Clothing
Source: Angelfire

Most clothes wore made from wool and underwear was usually made from linen. If you were wealthy you would were bright colours and better quality fabrics to demonstrate your wealth. This meant that the clothing for the upper classes tended to be very ornate. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, men of the wealthy classes would wear a form of tights and a jacket or a tunic with a surcoat.

Article: General Introduction to t...
Source: Australian Catholic Unive...

The Crusades introduced perfumes, jewels, and Eastern fabrics to the European wardrobe as well as two new garment forms. The cyclas, a sleeveless garment worn over chain mail, became a popular overgarment. The pourpoint, a padded and quilted garment, originated as a protective underlayer for armor. Marco Polo, born into a Venetian trading family, was the first European to travel across Asia. In the last quarter of the thirteenth century, he visited Mongolia and China, spending seventeen years in the service of Kublai Khan. He traveled along the Silk Road and observed textile trade and garment manufacture. When he returned, he wrote about his adventures, which provided a firsthand account of the cultures if the East Asia. It also sparked European curiosity for several centuries.

Article:   The Fashion Reader: Secon…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

As the European empires became more established, the distinctive dress styles of the national monarchies also emerged, leading to the creation of national fashion. […] Although the fashion industry expanded in this era, the development of fashion style and sophistication remained static. For example, there was no distinction between summer and winter fashion unlike in the Roman Empire. Also men and women wore similar long and floating clothing, covering the whole body, all year round, until the fourteenth century. The social class, however, continued to determine the choice of material fro dressing.

Article:   Luxury Fashion Branding: …
Source:  Offline Book/Journal