What you wore depended on who you were in the Medieval period. If you were rich you would probably own a variety of clothes, in the latest styles and colours. If you were a poor peasant, you may only own one tunic. Although it was possible to obtain silks and other luxurious materials from abroad, they were very expensive. Most clothing therefore was made out of wool. This meant that clothing in the Medieval period was itchy, difficult to wash and dry and very hot in the summer.

Noblemen and Women Early Medieval Costume

These pictures (above) show the costume worn during the reign of the Normans by the rich. The man is wearing a woollen tunic, belted at the waist, that has been embroidered around the hem. Over this he has a woollen cloak fastened with a brooch. On his legs he wears woollen leggings fastened with cross-gartered leather strips. The man’s wife is wearing a woollen dress trimmed with white linen and embroidery, belted at the waist. Over this she has a woollen cloak. Her headdress is made out of linen and is held in place with a headband.

Late Medieval Costume

This famous portrait was painted by Jan Van Eyck in 1435 (towards the end of the Medieval period). It shows a rich nobleman and his wife dressed in the typical fashion of the day. The man is wearing a fur-trimmed velvet gown over a black padded long shirt that has gold embroidery around the edges. He has black stockings to cover his legs. The large hat is a sign of his wealth. The man’s wife is wearing a green woollen dress trimmed with cream coloured fur that is belted very high. Underneath the dress she has another dress made out of blue material. Her headdress is made out of fine expensive linen.

Peasants Early Medieval Costume

This man is wearing a brown woollen long jacket over short breeches. These were probably the only clothes he owned. As you can see he did not wear a hat or shoes.

Late Medieval Costume

This picture, from a painting by Brueghel, shows late medieval peasants enjoying a wedding. They are, therefore, wearing their best clothes, including shoes and hats.