The Medieval period is famous for its art and architecture, but one aspect of the period that fascinates us a lot is fashion! Medieval women’s clothing includes dresses, gowns, chemise, corsets, capes, cloaks, and many other items. In this article, you will find an assortment of the various styles of medieval women’s clothing. So let’s get right into the world of medieval fashion.
5 Best Medieval Clothing for Women
Below are the five Best Medieval Women’s Clothing, handpicked by us, especially for all the fashionistas!
The corset was initially a prerogative of the men’s wardrobe, often made of metal and leather, resembling armour. The ancient Greeks and Romans classicized tight bodies. The ancient corset slimmed the stomach and the chest; however, it caused unimaginable pain.
The first Medieval Corset was made for Joana of Portugal in 1461. The story goes that she ordered a tailor to make such a bodice that would make her look slimmer. The tailor fulfilled her wishes and made the corset consisting of metal plates. The corset has been marked in the biography of royals, such as Isabella I of Castile and Catherine de Medici, who made it famous and an essential component of medieval women’s clothing.
Medieval corsets usually covered the torso from the level of the armpits and ended just above the hips. Fashion historians have called medieval corsets “an instrument of torture” as they were highly uncomfortable. The corsets had an elaborate design, which made it possible to pull the waist up to 12 inches. Ladies often fainted from the inability to take a deep breath. There was also a shorter corset form, which covered only the waist. It was known as the “Waist Cincher” and supported the breasts from below.
Medieval Tunics were a simple and multiform item that was ideal for a standalone garb for warm weather. From Ancient Rome and towards the end of the Middle Ages epoch, tunics were worn by both men and women. Tunics evolved with time and adapted themselves to the industry development level, scientific progress, and cultural preferences.
Due to the widespread dissemination of Christianity in the 9th and 10th centuries, dresses became the leading female garment. Medieval gowns of the Dark Ages, from the 6th to the beginning of the 11th century, were more like tunics than dresses in the modern sense. The top medieval dress of a simple A-shape was a mixture of Byzantine, Norman, and Antique styles. It was decorated with embroidery at the collar, sleeves, and hem. Women used belts to emphasize their waistline, as there was no separation between the bodice and skirt of the dress. From the early 11th century onwards, fashion incorporated a respectful attitude towards pregnant women. Adding draperies in the abdominal, high rise, and strongly flared bottom of the medieval dress helped them.
During the 11th to 13th centuries, trade with the eastern countries brought silk and muslin to Europe. Bright colours, previously inaccessible, came into the nobles’ daily life. The amount of fabric and the number of folds determined the social status of people then. It was when beautiful medieval dresses gained trains, making fashion a little dramatic.
The word ‘cloak’ usually implies a long, loose outer garment that often comes with a hood. Cloaks have been a part of human attire for thousands of years in the form of animal skins, which served both as clothing and blankets.
Middle Ages cloaks were the leading outer clothing of the era, so they were made with many materials and creative designs. Initially, the cloaks were similar for women and men of all classes; however, they underwent various changes over the centuries. In the 12th century, simple pull-over style cloaks and capes were replaced by a light full-round ‘mantle’ cloak, leading to a significant change in the fashion of cloaks. This loose-fitting cloak was held on the shoulders by only a twisted silken cord or a decorative ribbon.
With the influence of Italian fashion, a ‘huque’ cloak gained immense popularity. It resembled a poncho and was bell-shaped with massive folds in front. In the 14th century, the ‘pelisson’ took over, a cloak with arm slits, often fully lined. Later, the cloak featured short or long bell sleeves and became an actual coat.
The chemise was an essential part of clothing as it was a loose-fitting undergarment worn by women under their dresses. The styles of the chemise were the same for all medieval classes. The only difference between the two styles was the fabric quality which depended on the status of the women. Peasants used rough flax and sackcloth, whereas middle-class women used delicate linen chemise. However, only the nobles and the rich could afford to wear silk underwear.
Fashion evolved throughout the Middle Ages as there were equally fashionable and outdated styles. However, it was not as fast-paced as nowadays, when clothing is mass-produced and easily accessible. Medieval clothing for women had a slow but beautiful transformation, still being adapted and adorned by women today, indicating the eminence of fashion during this period.