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Medieval and Renaissance period Costumes

Medieval Period:

Medieval costumes reflected the social status of the individual. The noble men for example wore a light shirt made of linen as their undergarment. A belt with a purse attached was worn with a belt buckle made of jewels. The gown had bagpipe sleeves, which were baggy but tight at the sleeves. The medieval hats called chaperons were favored by the lords, the hat used to have long tails called liripipes. Pointed shoes were preferred and during winter a heavy fur lined cloak was worn. The medieval knight wore tunic with attached cape, pants, shirt, hood, boot tops, gloves and belt.


Clothing worn by the people of the royal household was brightly colored like blue or burgundy and made of soft material like velvet poly cotton. The medieval queens usually wore full-length gowns often with draped sleeves and gold colored accenting whereas the princess wore dress with flowing medieval sleeves, lace-up bodice & gold trim. Rolled headpiece with veil and gold accents where also in vogue among the royal ladies. A coat called a surcoat was worn over the gown and had their clothes embroidered. Fur lined cloaks were worn to keep warm- these cloaks were fastened by a decorative cord or jeweled clasp around the shoulders. Heads were kept covered either by a linen cloth held in a wire circle or conical hat. Pattens, shoes with high bottoms, were wooden shoes used when it was muddy outside.

A rough tunic to keep warm was worn by the peasant and a simple cloak lined with sheepskin was used over the tunic. Shoes used were of clothes or wood. The medieval maidens would wear simple cloak (Vest Overskirt) over tunic fitted with a belt to tuck in the skirt. The main materials used were wool, linen, leather, fur sometimes silk and velvet. Silk dresses were used by the aristocracy. Velvet was favored by the royalty in Spain and Italy

The costumes of the common people were not very colorful, seldom going beyond gray and brown but the nobility could afford differently styled and dyed fabrics. Married women in medieval times wore veils; if unmarried she let her hair loose.

Renaissance period:

Renaissance costumes had a more natural appearance compared to the Gothic style followed in the medieval period. Renaissance noble men, wore hats of various shapes, richly decorated to match their splendid costumes like vest with gold-color accenting, mock shirt and knickers. The renaissance unisex white, poly-cotton pull-over shirt with billowy sleeves and tie-up front was a big rage among men and ladies alike. There was the robe, a dress with attached bodice and skirt. Men wore short doublets. Renaissance beauties had their hair elaborately trimmed with thin veils, ribbons, and jewels instead of the peaked head dress of the Gothic period. The use of lace and perfume also was very common during the Renaissance.

With brief, wide gowns, men wore hose and short breeches that were padded for added fullness. They also wore broad toed shoes and wide-brimmed caps. Skirts often made of crushed velvet were voluminous and pleated or were topped with a pleated apron with lame sleeves. The neckline was finished with a standing collar called foamed collar.

You can see and buy a good selection of medieval and renaissance costumes and clothing right here

Here are some Medieval and Renaissance resources that you might find useful:

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