Medieval Tunics: Styles and Types

The medieval tunic has been a part of men’s fashion for centuries, dating back to the middle ages. Mens medieval tunics have come in many different styles and materials, and have been worn by everyone from peasants to knights.

Short Sleeve Tunics

In this article, we will be taking a look at the different types of tunics worn by medieval men, their materials, and when they were first worn.

We will also discuss if medieval tunics were worn by women or just men. So buckle up, and let’s get started on a journey through the history of the mens medieval tunic.

The Peasant’s Tunic

During medieval times, the peasant class wore the simplest form of the tunic. This type of tunic was often made from wool, linen, or hemp, which was usually undyed, but sometimes dyed with natural dyes to create different colours.

Clothing of a Peasant Villein
Medieval Peasants Clothing

The tunics were usually thigh-length and loose-fitting with a drawstring or belt at the waist. The neck and sleeves could be either round or v-shaped, depending on the design.

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Hemp Plants

The peasant’s tunic provided the basic template for other types of medieval tunics worn by all classes. For example, linen tunics were a popular choice among peasants, as they were light and airy during the summer months.

Similarly, there were many types of medieval tunic styles such as

Tabards, Cottes, Bliauts, Surcoats, and Jerkins.

Each style had its own unique look and design, but all were still based on the peasant’s tunic.

How to Make a Medieval Tunic

How to make a medieval tunic was usually a simple process – two rectangles of fabric were sewn together and then finished with a drawstring, belt, or ties at the waist.

The Knights Tunic

The knights’ tunic was the most popular type of tunic worn in the Middle Ages. It was usually made of linen, with either short or long sleeves depending on the occasion and style.

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These tunics were often embroidered with gold thread and decorated with jewels and precious metals to signify the wealth and status of the knight wearing them.

Knights also wore their surcoats over the tunic, and this was often a colourful garment featuring the knight’s coat of arms.

Dubbing Ceremony
A Squire is knighted at a dubbing ceremony

To make a medieval tunic, tailors had to pay attention to details like how the fabric was cut and how it fitted the body. This ensured that the tunic looked its best and that the knight could move freely while wearing it.

What Were Tunics Made From?

In the Middle Ages, tunics were often made of wool, linen, or a combination of the two. Wool was favored by the wealthy and linen was used by the lower classes. Wool was especially popular as it was warmer and more durable than linen.

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Wool from Sheep


In some cases, the material used to make a medieval tunic could be quite ornate, with decorative trimmings and embroidery. Some of the most common types of medieval tunic styles included the belted tunic, tabard, kirtle, surcoat, and cappa clausa.

Medieval Knights Surcoat
The earliest recorded instance of knights wearing surcoats was in the 12th century. According to historical sources, around this time the medieval European knights began wearing surcoats

These were all made of either wool or linen and could vary in length from ankle-length to knee-length. For a more detailed look at how to make a medieval tunic, there are many helpful resources available online that provide step-by-step instructions for creating these types of medieval garments.

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Ankle Length Tunic

When Were Tunics First Worn in Medieval Times?

The earliest surviving examples of medieval tunics date back to the 8th century when they were often made of linen or wool and worn long, reaching the ground.

Medieval Tunic History

Medieval Tunics began to appear In the 8th Century

By the 12th century, shorter tunics became fashionable and these were usually made of wool and lined with fur or velvet.

medieval peasant clothes
Short and Long Tunic

By the 13th century, people began to wear sleeved tunics as well, and they would also have a wide neckline that was often decorated with embroidery.

These tunics would be tailored to fit their body shape, with fitted arms and a tailored waist. This type of medieval tunic was particularly popular with knights, who would often have their tunics lined with silk or velvet for added luxury.

Medieval Squire & Knight
A medieval Squire was taken under the wing of a medieval knight

The most common fabrics used for making medieval tunics were linen and wool, although more expensive fabrics like silk were also used for more luxurious garments.

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It was also common for people to make their own tunics, either from scratch or by altering an existing tunic.

Instructions on how to make a medieval tunic can be found in manuscripts from the period, offering detailed instructions on how to cut, sew and finish a range of different types of the medieval tunic.

Were Tunics Worn by Women or Just Men?

Tunics were an integral part of the medieval wardrobe, with men, women and children all wearing different types of tunics.

Norman Clothing
At the time of Norman Conquest of England in 1066, for instance, Normans wore woollen tunics made in a close-fitting style, sometimes together with a waistband to keep the tunic in place.