Medieval Times Essay

This essay has a total of 1209 words and 7 pages.

Medieval Times




What Was Clothing Like in the Middle Ages?

In the Middle Ages the tailoring business developed and fashion as a concept was born.
There wasn’t much difference among the distinct social classes in the way the clothing
were cut, the differences became evident mostly in the colours and materials. The country
folk prepared their fabrics themselves and the nobility and the bourgeois had the
possibility to buy their own imported fabrics.


What Materials Were Used to Make the Clothing?

The domestic wool was revised into cloths of different strengths -durable, felt and carded
fabrics. The most expensive, the finest and the most colourful cloth was an extremely
important merchandise imported for example from the Netherlands, England and Germany.


Preparing the fabrics and the threads was a time-consuming and valuable craft. Fabric
was extremely valuable despite whether or not it was homemade or imported. The medieval
threads were spindled with a distaff (an early part of a spinning wheel). For one whole
dress where the density of threads was 12 threads per centimetre you needed as much as 15
000 metres of finished thread; i.e. 30 kilometres of one-filament thread. The thread had
to be tightly woven and very durable. The clothes were used all the way to the end -- the
parts that were worn-out and broken were mended and patched.


When the piece of clothing was totally worn-out, the good parts were used again. This
might be a reason why the archeological findings are mostly church textiles. The looseness
of the clothes was received by the using of gussets which were triangular inserts used to
expand clothing. This way you could also save the valuable fabric. The colours were
important to the contemporary people and by lifting the coating the colours of the
underclothes and the lining could be shown.


The working cloth of the country folk was a linen shirt. Long, dragging clothes were
typical in the Middle Ages especially for the rich. Height was emphasised in clothes as
well as in architecture. Buttons were first used in the 14th Century, however, they were
more used in men’s than in women’s clothes. Armorial bearing shapes and mi-parti outfits
(two different colour halves of clothing) were typical in the Middle Ages.


What Did Women Wear?

The quantity and quality of medieval woman's clothing depended mostly on status. Queens
wore elaborate, exquisitely detailed gowns while peasants wore ill-fitting hand-me-downs.
Noblewomen and the wives of wealthy merchants could afford more costly garments. A good
example is Margherita Datini.


A detailed list of Margherita's clothes from 1397 reveals what the average outfit would
contain. The only undergarment consisted of a long dress, or shift. Since it had to be
worn against the skin, this garment was usually made from a soft cotton or linen. This
would be covered by a wool or fur petticoat during the winter months.

Over the petticoat would be a long-sleeved gown. The surcoat covered the gown, but was
sleeveless. The average wardrobe of the period contained very few gowns, but an assortment
of surcoats made from various material. Margherita had a wide array to choose from; blue
damask, taffeta, Oriental damask, and silk are only a few. Some of the surcoats had
detachable sleeves, making the outfit versatile and adaptable to the seasons.


Women also wore capes, cloaks, and shawls as wraps. They could be made from wool, fur,
silk, or velvet. Some of these garments may have included hoods, but there were other
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