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Renaissance Attire: A Look into Medieval Fashion

From the ornate and opulent attire of kings and queens to the humble and functional garments of the common folk, medieval fashion was as diverse as it was intricate. With an emphasis on tailoring and textiles, the clothing of the medieval period was not only practical but also a powerful symbol of wealth and status. Join us as we uncover the clothes of the past. From Knights in shining armor to noble ladies in their finest gowns, medieval fashion is a treasure trove of inspiration, history, and fun!

Medieval Fashion History

Medieval Fashion
Medieval Fashion, by Hans Splinter, is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Medieval fashion history spans a thousand years, from the 5th to the 15th century. During this time, fashion underwent significant changes due to cultural, economic, and political influences.

During the early medieval period, clothing was primarily made from wool and linen. Styles varied depending on the region but were generally simple, with loose-fitting tunics and long, flowing robes being the most common garments. As the medieval period progressed, fashion became more elaborate, with rich fabrics such as silk and velvet becoming more widely available.

In the High Middle Ages, fashion became more refined with the emergence of new tailoring techniques and the use of buttons and laces.

During the Late Middle Ages, fashion became even more elaborate, with the emergence of the “houppelande” for men and the “gown” for women. These garments were characterized by long, flowing sleeves and were often fur-lined. The Burgundian court was particularly influential in shaping fashion during this time, with the dukes and duchesses setting the trends that were copied by the nobility throughout Europe.

Types of Medieval Fashion 

Medieval fashion was diverse and reflected the social status and occupation of the wearer. The upper classes, including royalty and nobility, were known for their luxurious and ornate clothing, made from expensive fabrics such as silk and velvet and adorned with embroidery, jewels, and fur trimmings. On the other hand, the lower classes typically wore simpler clothing made from coarse materials such as wool and linen and had less ornamentation. 

Medieval Men Fashion 

Regarding men’s fashion, the Middle Ages were all about practicality. Men typically wore tunics, hoses, and doublets, often made of wool or linen. These garments were typically loose-fitting and designed to be worn with a belt or girdle. They also had different types of headwear, like caps and hoods. 

Medieval Women Fashion 

On the other hand, women’s medieval fashion was all about elegance. Women wore long, flowing dresses and corsets. Women of the upper class had the opportunity to dress more elaborately, with garments such as the “gown,” which was a long, flowing garment with long sleeves that was often lined with fur. But, regardless of social status, women’s clothing was always designed to accentuate their beauty and grace.

Medieval Kids Fashion

Children’s fashion was similar to that of adults but with a touch of simplicity. Boys typically wore tunics, while girls wore dresses. Children’s clothing was made of wool and linen but needed to be more decorated.

Medieval Fashion For Weddings 

Medieval Fashion For Weddings 
Medieval Fashion For Weddings is licensed under CC0

Medieval weddings were grand and elaborate affairs. For the bride, the most common ensemble was a long, flowing gown made of luxurious fabric decorated with embroidery, pearls, and other embellishments. The gown was paired with a headpiece, such as a crown or a veil, and a long train carried by a maid of honour.

The groom’s attire was more formal, often consisting of a long tunic and hose made of rich fabrics such as velvet or satin and adorned with embroidery or other embellishments. They wore a cloak lined with furs, and a hat, such as a cap or a crown. The groom often carried a sword or other weapon to symbolize his status and power.

Accessories such as jewellery and shoes were also necessary and used to indicate the wearer’s social status.

Medieval Fashion Interesting Facts

  • The colour of one’s clothing was also significant in medieval fashion, as certain colours were reserved for specific social classes or occupations. For example, only the royalty and nobility were allowed to wear certain shades of purple, while the lower classes were restricted to darker, more subdued colours.
  • Using buttons as fasteners on clothing became popular during the medieval period. Before this, the dress was fastened with ties, brooches, or pins.
  • Medieval footwear was often highly decorated and could indicate the wearer’s social status.


The Renaissance marked a shift in fashion, from the restrictive and uniform clothing of the Middle Ages, towards more ornate and individualistic attire. Men and women began to wear tighter-fitting clothing, with doublets and hoses and bodices and skirts for women. The renaissance attire also marked a shift in the dress’s silhouette, with padding and corsets accentuating the body shape. The clothing of the Renaissance reflected the cultural and social changes that occurred during that era; it was more expressive and individualistic.

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