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Medieval, Medieval Clothing, Medieval Costumes, Medieval Fabric -

Medieval Fabric

Women Medieval Costumes

Five major components comprised medieval clothing in Europe. Leather was used to make shoes and belts. The lighter linen was used for clothes that hugged the skin, including tunics and dresses. Outer (and winter) garments were made of wool. Peasants wore rabbit fur while the richer community preferred the rarer ermine fur.  Silk was the most expensive and was the exclusive domain of the rich. There we laws in place to ensure that certain fabrics and colors could only be worn by a specific social class to differentiate them from others.

Linen was common throughout Europe, whereas wool was largely dominated by the English and Flemish. The Italians supplied the silk, probably because of their link with Asia (Marco Polo connection). Garments were exclusively made by hand and, thus, the lower strata had only a few articles of clothing. The middle class bought fancy articles and clothing from travelling merchants at village fairs, or simply relied on local talent to provide such articles of clothing.

Dyes came from several sources, some of which were expensive. Still, using plants, roots, crushed insects, molluscs, and iron oxide, among other things, pretty much any color could be achieved. However, the process of adding color raised the price, thus undyed fabric in off-white or beige was common among the peasants. Brighter and richer colors meant a more expensive manufacturing process, which explains why vibrant clothes could only be seen in nobility or the highest class of the society.

However, there was this flowering plant, woad, which produced a natural dark blue dye. It was extensively used by everybody and garments with the color blue were seen at virtually all classes of the society.

For reenactors and collectors: Women’s Medieval Wear, Men’s Medieval Wear


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