Category Archives: Clothing

Purses and pockets

Containers must sometimes be portable. While large supplies are kept at home in barrels, jars, and chests, small things need carrying containers for errands and journeys. Medieval containers included little bags to carry things around in; they were generally called … Continue reading

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Clothing at the end of the Middle Ages

There’s no firm line for where the Middle Ages end and the Renaissance – Early Modern begins. The conventional date is 1453, when the Turks conquered Constantinople. I’ve argued at times for the Black Death, a full century earlier, as … Continue reading

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New fabrics: cotton, indigo and velvet

Cotton is native to India. When Muslims conquered northern India, they found cotton fields and production into cloth, which they sent back to Damascus. Egypt and Spain were growing cotton by the 10th century. Europeans at first used cotton only … Continue reading

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14th century: short and long

Men’s fashion in the 1300s ran to extremes. Shoes often had extremely long points in the front, such that “pattens,” the wooden strap-on platforms used to keep leather feet out of rain and snow puddles, required long extensions to support … Continue reading

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14th century: evolution of the single-layer gown

Until about 1350, getting dressed meant putting on something colorful over a white linen gown. The design of the outer garment changed, but the basic idea was always the same, until the outer garment became more or less vestigial. The … Continue reading

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The importance of heraldry

People have a tendency to emphasize and celebrate things once they have ceased to be important in an urgent, primitive way, because it’s only then that these things can become socially important. For example, when the railroads were first built, … Continue reading

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13th and 14th centuries: men’s hats

Men’s hats in the 14th century flourished, with some rather odd quirks that persisted into the next century. Men still wore the linen coif, the close-fitting cap that now most resembles a traditional baby’s cap. (Of course the baby’s cap … Continue reading

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13th to 15th centuries: ladies’ hair and hats

Until the 13th century, Northern European ladies’ hair had been styled fairly simply, usually in a long braid. By the middle of the 1200s, this was changing, and by the mid-1300s, upper-class hair was styled in fiendishly complicated ways. It … Continue reading

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13th Century: Coif, Barbette and Wimple

As the Cyclas made its way into women’s fashion too, head coverings were changing very much from the 12th century’s hoods. While hoods were still much worn among many social classes (and continued to be worn for several centuries), men … Continue reading

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13th Century: Cyclas and Gardcorp

In the 12th century, men had mostly covered their basic tunics with cloaks that were some variant of a circle: semi-circle, 3/4 circle, or oval. It draped around their shoulders in grand idleness, made of heavy, rich fabric. But in … Continue reading

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