Medieval Clothing

The Middle Ages or medieval period is a period in European history which began with the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 to the beginning of the Early Modern Period in the 16th century when the Renaissance began. Medieval clothing is characterized by simple lines that make efficient use of fabric. At a time when fabric was scarce and manpower cheap, medieval clothing often used piecing to use every scrap of fabric even though it required much more time than we would think necessary today. Medieval clothing consisted of tunics, chausses (leggings), shirts, braies (underpants), and cloaks. Hoods or coifs covered the head. Shoes were made from leather. The most popular fabric for medieval clothing was wool. Linen and silk were also used in medieval clothing but were far more expensive. Even wealthy families would only have an average of four suits of medieval clothing per year. Fabric was all hand spun, dyed and woven, and was not as plentiful as it is today. Many pieces of medieval clothing no longer survive because clothing was made over and over until the fabric was no longer useable.