Early Medieval Clothing

Early medieval clothing reflected the different social and cultural currents that Europe was facing at the time.

This was a time when the Roman Empire had fallen and Western Europe was being reinvigorated under wave after wave of different Germanic tribes.

fall of rome

It was ultimately the interactive dynamics of the Roman heritage with the culture of these tribes which defined the culture of the period, including the clothing prevalent at the time.

Like most other aspects of culture in the early medieval period, clothing styles and trends varied across different regions of Europe, also all shared some general features.

It is important to note here that the dresses of the elite and those of the common men differed significantly during the early medieval period.

Anglo Saxon Timeline

Early Medieval Clothing for Nobility

The rich and the nobility in early medieval Europe usually wore expensive and luxurious clothes, often importing them from other parts of Europe or from outside the Continent. Silk was commonly used in elite clothing and was usually imported from the Byzantine Empire.

Medieval Nobility and Medieval Nobles

Cotton was similarly a regular ingredient of the clothing of the rich and was usually imported from Egypt and Arab lands to the East. The rich also used wool and linen in their clothing as well as leather and fur which came from hunted animals.

A vast range of decorative features such as buckles, brooches, shoulder clasps, and belts was used in elite clothing, especially in Anglo-Saxon England.

Medieval Fashion of Nobility

The Tunic was the most common garment worn by men in the early medieval period. The basic form of a tunic is comprised of folded portions of linen with a neck hole. The length of the tunic usually defined the vocation or social status of a man.

Medieval KIngs Clothing

Medieval Kings Clothing – Robes and Tunics

Warriors and peasants wore a tunic of knee-length or even shorter so that it wouldn’t obstruct them in their daily work.

Richer nobility wore longer tunics with the richest sometimes wearing extravagantly adorned and embellished tunics that fell all the way to the feet and utilized colorful silks.


Templar Tunic

Sleeves were attached to the tunic as a covering for the arms. For the lower body, basic leggings together with laces were used. When venturing outdoors, the rich would complement this basic dress with an additional cloak or mantle.

Medieval Women Clothes

Women during the early medieval period usually wore a simple tunic dress with sleeves. The tunic was worn by women who usually carried a slit at the bodice where the slit was then kept together with lacing. Underneath this dress, a hose of varying lengths was worn in different parts of Europe.

medieval hairstyles girl plaited hair

Women also possibly wore an additional under-tunic in conjunction with the tunic dress. Like men, they further used a clock or mantle when venturing out.

Given the significant influence of Christianity on the culture of the period, it is not surprising to note that women also wore some sort of cape or kerchief to cover their heads in public.

Medieval Hair Styles

Medieval women andman Hairstyles

Clergy Clothes

During the early medieval period, the dress of Christian clergy in Europe moved from simplistic to that of increased sophistication.

It was during this period that ecclesiastical authorities began to use a wide variety of dresses, each strictly prescribed for a Church official of a certain status and position.

Among the types of dress used by the clergy during this period were the cope, pallium, sole, maniple, and dalmatic. Silks were also used extensively in the dresses of superior clergymen.

Medieval Pope Pius V

Medieval Pope Pius V

A Medieval Pope

A Medieval Kings is Crowned

Medieval Clothing Fast Facts

  • Men in early medieval Europe wore a tunic with sleeves and leggings for the lower body. A cloak or mantle was additionally used in winters.
  • Women in early medieval Europe wore a sleeved tunic, sometimes with an under-tunic and some sort of head-covering.
  • Wealthy noblemen in the early medieval period used silk and cotton in their dress, usually importing them from other parts of Europe.

medieval clothes

  • Commoners in the early medieval period usually wore woolen or linen tunics.
  • Jewelry items such as belts, buckles, shoulder clasps, and metal purses were also used as part of the clothing in the early medieval period.
  • In Western Europe, a cloak was worn as part of men’s dressing in the early medieval period. The style of the cloak reflected Roman influence.
  • Clergymen in early medieval England wore cope, pallium, maniple, and dalmatic as their standard dress.

Anglo Saxon Clothes