Clothing in the Middle Ages in Occident was determined by Christianism and its rules, and influenced by Romans, Byzantines and Muslims. Clothing was essencial and very relevant, as it showed the social class of the person who dressed. Different clothes were worn depending on the culture of the place where they lived. In the Middle Ages, many changes in clothes came into force. Togas started to disappear, and the use of tunics was extended. People stopped using “bracca” (body-tight pants), and started wearing hose panties. Layers and mantles became popular between men, while women commonly used skirts and headdresses.
Byzantines adopted fashion with wide clothes and mantles embroidered with precious stones and silver, that were widely used for ceremonies in the Carolingian time. It was limited the use of tights or panties.
The muslim conquest also affected clothing. Moriscos imposed the use of zaragüelles(trousers), strips and turbans. One of the most common clothes was the aljuba (short robe).
From XI century, clothing for men in the Iberian Peninsula consisted of two or three main pieces, superposed in the form of tunics (sayos, that were wide tunics without sleeves, apart from the shirt). The brial was very popular, which was adorned by embroideries, and was buttoned with buttons, adjusting to the body from the waist upper, and hanging from this one some skirts from the sides.
New clothes were mainly used in the Middle Ages. Tights were used almost by everyone. At first, they were just for men, but they evolved also for women. As warming or external clothes, robes and coats were worn. Wool was used. In the first centuries, the roman coat was buttoned with fibula and was almost always used.
Sandals, clogs, buskins, and very sharp-pointed shoes were worn by normal peolple.
Elegant women wore high clogs like these ones.
Clothing in nobility was expensive and heavy. The best textiles were used, like velvet and silk, and just queens and kings were permited to wear purple or golden silk. Animal’s skins were also popular, and the fox and ermine’s ones were commonly used. For women, clothing consisted of various layers. As interior clothes, they used tights, and, on the outside, long dresses with small tails, covered by a luxurious coat. Most woman used an element called corset, that markes their figure and made it easierer to put on their dresses. They could be inside the dresses or blouses, or outside. In some zones of Europe, the decolleté neckline was used in dresses. Embroidered laces and jewels were always worn to express their social class. At first, on the head, women wore a silk cover, but then, at the Late Middle Ages, hats were prefered. Fans were also used, but, not to show wealthiness, as it used before, but to hide bad corporal smell.
Wealthy men wore “the latest in fashion”; high boots. They kept their beards, beause they were considered a symbol of virility . Noblemen used felt hats, and a kind of robe , which varied in lenght. It was also common to wear pointed-large boots. The tip of these shoes could measure up to 46 cm, and men wrapped their toes with dry musgo to fit in them.
Poor people and peasants wore natural colours like grey or brown, and the materials of their clothes were poor and in bad condictions.
In conclusion, clothing has been one of the most important items that defines a person’s life. It is constantly changing and evolving, but it is great to know about other times’ clothing, since it defines religion, ideas and customs.