Medieval fashion history

4. October 2021
Medieval fashion

© / blitzmaerker

Year after year, season after season, designers and experts search for the hottest fashion trends, for the “next big thing”, the latest craze for the day after tomorrow. In the course of our lifetime, fashion developed rapidly. What was hot yesterday is already out today and will celebrate a highly acclaimed comeback the day after tomorrow at the latest. But how was it actually in the past? Fashion has always been important and has changed in fascinating ways over the centuries, developing from representative garb for the nobility to a style indicator for everyone. In the Middle Ages, however, fashion for the general public was not yet to be thought of.

Byzantine beginnings

Today only pictorial traditions are known of medieval fashion, which mainly focus on aristocratic clothing. Little is known of the lower classes. In the early Middle Ages, Byzantine influences dominated the fashion landscape. Clearly influenced by the Romans, the clothing, made largely of linen, was quite loose and enveloping. Higher classes and church dignitaries could afford expensive silk fabrics, while the poor population was mainly wrapped in wool.

In the early Middle Ages, rich men and women mainly wore tunics, only hairstyle and jewelry were used to distinguish them. Coats, such as the hooded overcoat Paenula or the thrown-over Sagum, could not be missing either. However, with the enactment of a dress code in 808, with which Charlemagne set the clothing budget for every citizen, any attempts at further fashionable developments were nipped in the bud. France, on the other hand, saw the rise of the Bilaud in court clothing – a body-hugging piece for both sexes, the top of which was made of the finest silk.

Burgundian High Middle Ages

With the onset of love culture in the 11th century, medieval fashion changed even further. Roman tunics moved more and more into the background, while body-hugging silhouettes for women and men – especially minstrels and knights’ clothing – slowly but surely found their way into the scene. The starting point for these developments was the Burgundian court. Here, for example, the Hennin, which is still worn in Carnival today, was developed, a hood with a veil that tapered to the top. Married women had to wear a white band around their chin, ears and top of the head when they went to church.

In addition to the classic knight’s armor, upper garments with slits on the sides and reaching to the ankles and the check, a short overcoat, became the main components of the male wardrobe. At the same time, the tailoring trade experienced a great boom in the middle of the 12th century. The cut was developed in order to be able to sew increasingly narrow clothes accordingly. Opulent lacing and decorations as well as bright, bright colors became more important. It was not until the end of the Middle Ages that the differences in fashion became greater. While national costumes were developing on the one hand, poorer sections of the population were gradually able to participate in the fashion, wearing doublets or checks.

From fashion history to fashion that makes history: The Brandboxx trade fairs regularly present the hottest fashion trends in a wide variety of sectors. Whether casual or evening wear, whether sporty or for children – trade visitors can already see today what will be trendy tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Get an overview of all upcoming trade fair dates and contact us for exhibition and accreditation questions !

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