The Middle Ages
Welcome to the Middle Ages!
This period began with the fall of the Roman Empire, around the 5th Century and merged into the Renaissance or the 15th Century. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages. Because of this wide range of time (1000 years!) it wasn't very easy to make a selection.
Fashion was dictated by the sumptuary laws, it was an easy way to identify social rank or status. Peasants or lower class people wore simple and practical clothing. Wealthier people or higher society wore more accessories, fur and expensive fabrics.
(1)Bliaut - (2)Surcoat
This was the time of elongated elegance (like the gothic churches). The ideal body was elongated. Woman wore the BLIAUT - long dresses with very long sleeves, together with long (fake) braids to help elongate their silhouette or the wimple - a headdress to cover their hair.
They started with a lot of layering. First they wore a kirtle, above it a surcoat with very deeply cut sides which hang quite loose. As headdresses they wore the Crespinette - a decorated hairnet, in many variations (with veils etc.)
Surcoat - miparti + cotehardie - Houppelande V-neck
The shape and fit of garments changed: clothes were being tailored to fit the body form. In this time there was the invention of the BUTTON. Woman wore the COTEHARDIE dress, with a lot of buttons and a low-scoop neckline. Men wore the Doublet, a Hose (verrry tight to the body) and the Poulain (shoes with very long toes..).
Later on there was the Mi- Parti fashion, constructed out of two different fabrics often in very different colors.
Houppelande + collar
Fashion got very extreme or extravagant in this period. The big garment of this period was the Houppelande. It was an outer garment with enormous sleeves (you could even trip on them).
There was also the invention of the COLLAR.
Mid/Late 1400 Century, things calmed down a bit. The look of the Houppelande changed into the V-neck line and high waistline. You can also see the kirtle beneath, so there's still a lot of layering, but more sophisticated... except maybe their headdresses. They were in all different kinds of sizes and forms (Bourrelet, Hennins).
If you want to know more about the Egyptians and Romans, it's right here.
Or go back to Historical appearances.