Medieval Womens Clothing

Medieval Women’s Clothing in Europe underwent various changes during different eras.

During the early medieval times, the influence of Roman and Greece fashion was still prevalent but with the passage of time, more stylish and fashionable clothes began to be introduced for women.

This was because of the increasing trade with other countries and improving economies.

Medieval Women’s Clothing History

Before the fourteenth century, medieval women’s clothing hardly had any style and was pretty simple.

However, during later medieval times medieval women’s clothing underwent several changes and tighter-fitting garments with low necklines became more popular.

Clothing components such as the corset, surcoat, and gown became an increasingly common form of clothing during this time onwards.

Early medieval womens clothing

Early medieval clothing for women

Medieval women’s clothing and sumptuary laws

Sumptuary laws were introduced in late medieval times in order to ensure the maintenance of the class structure.

These laws forbade certain kind of clothing for the common people as it was not considered appropriate for their class.

The colour, fabric, and design of medieval women’s clothing according to these laws depended on their rank and social standing.

Styles of Medieval Women’s Clothing

The styles of medieval women’s clothing were relatively simple during the early medieval times. Long tunics reaching to the heel were popular which was fastened at the waist and were worn with or without sleeves.

During the middle medieval times, the lower part, neck and borders of the sleeves began to be trimmed with ornamented bands.

The styles for medieval women’s clothing during the late medieval times included gown with tight bodices, massive belts of gold and elegant hats.

  • Early medieval women’s clothing closely followed the designs of ancient Greece and Rome
  • Distinct changes in women’s medieval clothing came in the Norman period with the sumptuary laws
  • Medieval women’s clothing fashion also change dramatically after the 14th century
  • Sumptuary laws restricted in the Colours and styles of clothing medieval women could wear
  • Medieval women’s clothing symbolised their standing in medieval society
Medieval Womens Clothing

Italian Medieval Fashion – Medieval Womens Clothing

Materials Used for Medieval Women’s Clothing

Class distinction was also maintained when it came to the material used in medieval women’s clothing. Medieval women’s clothing among the lower classes made use of wool, linen, and sheepskin.

For upper classes, a variety of expensive materials were used including velvets, furs, silks, cotton, and others.

The use of expensive materials became widespread with increasing trade with the rest of the world during the late medieval times.

Medieval Peasant Women’s Clothing

The most common form of medieval women’s clothing for peasant women was a knee length tunic which was fastened at the waist. Other commonly used clothing included linen shirts or rough woolen shirts.

The most common materials used for medieval women’s clothing for peasant women were wool, linen, and sheepskin.

Clothing for Noble Women

Common elements of medieval women’s clothing for the women of nobility included trousers called bliauds, tabards, and surcoats. It was common to cover the clothes with full-length cloaks.

These cloaks were fastened at the shoulder using a broach and were trimmed with expensive fur.

Medieval Fashion For Women

Fashion in medieval women’s clothing mainly existed for the nobility. For underclothes, the common medieval fashion was to cover the underclothes with an underskirt made with yellow or white linen or silk.

Rich use of expensive materials was made for stylish gowns and it was common to decorate them with gems and lace.

Medieval Women’s clothing Summary

During the early medieval times, medieval women’s clothing was relatively simple and consisted of loose fitting dresses. However, during the middle and late medieval times, tight-fitting dresses became more popular and use of expense materials also became increasingly common.

  • Medieval women of the lower classes commonly wore wool, linen and sheepskin clothing
  • Velvet, fur, silk and cotton were common materials used in upper-class medieval women’s clothing
  • As trade with the rest of the world increased so did the availability of different women’s clothing materials
  • Medieval noble women often wore a full-length cloaks over their clothing
  • Fashion existed for medieval women from noble families but not for medieval peasants and commoners

This article on medieval women’s clothing gives facts and information on the clothing that medieval women wore in all sectors or medieval society, if you’d like to learn about the medieval clothing worn by other people in medieval society please take a look at the links below at the bottom of this medieval women’s clothing page which will take you straight to other articles on medieval clothing and medieval clothing accessories.