The Middle Ages: Clothing

The Middle Ages represents an important part of European history, which was separated into three different time periods , Early, High Middle, and Late Middle. During this time, there were common choices in clothing in which this article will focus on what people wore during the Middle Ages.


Throughout the medieval times of Europe , inhabitants during this period wore clothes made of loose linen and wool, like tunics reminiscent of the baggy T-shirts worn today. This was the same sort of attire that the Roman period displayed. The further the Middle Ages lingered, more elaborate clothing styles began to emerge, which started to focus on identifying people by the clothing they wore , including by gender and profession.

The majority of men wore tunics that hung down to their knees, yet older men and monks dressed in tunics that fell to the ground. During times of celebration (like parties) or when participating in ceremonies , noblemen and kings would wear their tunics to the floor.

Sometimes, men were known to wear wool pants underneath their tunics. The idea of wearing pants originally came from Germanic thought and was known that the Romans didn’t warm up too much to this idea. However, it was a gradual shift that soon saw this article of clothing gain popularity during the Middle Ages. Pants certainly did come in handy when men hopped on their horses and rode through locations with cold temperatures.

Noblemen would also wear tights under their tunics. At the time, knitting was not a reality yet , so the tights were woven  – creating a fit that wasn’t very tight. If the weather was cold , wool cloaks were worn.

As for the feet, if a man had enough money , he would wear shoes made of leather. Interestingly, you can date a painting or other piece of art during medieval times by what people were wearing on their feet. Early paintings showcase men with shoes that had square toes, while pointy toes made an appearance much later.

Depending on their status, women were afforded a multitude of clothing choices during the Middle Ages. At the time, all women would wear at least one tunic that fell to their ankles. The majority of women (when their budgets allowed it) owned under-tunics of linen or wool. If they were planning on taking a walk outside , a woolen cloak was worn. Woven tights or socks were also part of a females’ assemble when looking for something to cover their legs.
During the Middle Ages, you would never see a woman put on a pair of pants. Instead, tunics were the main piece of clothing for women that came in an array of colors. However, if you were a nun , you typically dressed in black or white tunics. Elaborate hats that reached into the sky were commonplace for noblewomen to wear. The most fancy of hats displayed attached streamers. A common fashion trend at the time saw women plucking the hair from their foreheads to create a high brow, which was regarded as a beauty statement.

Overall, there isn’t much in the way of evidence of medieval clothing, as buried items tend to rot under the ground. What researchers have learned about the fashion trends of the Middle Ages comes from analyzing paintings and sculptures of the time.