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Fashion in the Middle Ages

Saturday, 06 March 2010

fashion middle agesThe fashion practiced in the times of Middle Age used to have more powers and authority than the current fashion flow ever. The key objective of the fashion of that time was the intention to expose the social status of the wearer. And serious scandals and intrigues were common in regards to the trends when the fashion trends were set on the highest level and it was common when the royal family appeared to be the major trendsetter.

In the times of the earlier Middle Age a dress for women was like a dress for men. The same tailoring, the same length, the same color and fabric for all dresses. And when the chain mail was replaced by the armour, the men’s fashion gave its first cries and made first steps. The armour put on over the dress is the garment to be liked by few people since it is extremely difficult to battle in such an outfit, and thus, long dresses were soon changed for short warm overcoats.

And that was only beginning. The tailors took experiments with the cut and they used to produce real masterpieces, the outfit that current couturiers would envy. And the doublet kirtle was invented on the base of blio, the outfit that was highly liked by the characters of medieval dramas. The upper garment for men was often decorated with embroidery and diamonds were not at all common for such clothes. As a rule, such kirtles were incredibly uncomfortable and heavy, therefore the underwear played its main role to protect the body from rubbing.

At the same time as with the men’s clothes, the fashion trends were set for women either. Aristocrats and noblewomen were dressed up to the nine, and any dress of a woman from high society cost a fortune for her family.

And the XIII century was the time when two most significant decrees about «fashion» were passed. First, women who came from middle or low classes were not liable to have two dresses made a year while the high society women could afford four dresses on the whole. Second, Philippe the Fair of France, passed the restriction for all women from lower societies to wear the miniver, gold belts and silk dresses.

Nevertheless, the women of lower societies could not afford buying gold belts, anyway. The difference between the societies was very significant and the clothes of the ordinary people undergone sea changes throughout many centuries. Most clothes were made from sheep’s wool and it was of rough grey color. If there were some more money in the family to spend for something luxury, the people used to buy clothes from dyed wool which was ten times more expensive. Such clothes were mainly put on holidays and for other functions.

In the mean time, the grand ladies boasted with fashion styles in clothes. They intrigued each other and each one made every effort to outdo the other in having best dresses. The royal family members appeared to be the trendsetters, as a rule. And all the fashion trends were accepted then by all the court and plain people. And the current mass media could envy the speed with which the trends were accepted and practiced.

The fashion symbol of the Middle Ages is the hennin, which is the cone-shaped hat with the trail, the permanent attribute of all fairies. In the meanwhile, the manufacturers launched an incredible range of hats of various shapes and structures. Most of hats were designed in the way that the hair was poorly covered and hence, the weird haircuts of the Middle Ages are quite understandable when women shaved the front part of the head having the high forehead till the very crown of the head.

Luxuriance was blooming in all its tendencies. A metal case was attached to the girdle which resulted in the bell-like skirt. A big roller was worn on the thighs to make the skirt resemble a barrel. And the skirts were presented in the incredible number and design and color. Darker skirts were for upper wear and lighter color skirts were assigned for underwear. The skirt train could be up to 11 meters.

And yet, the most recognizable dress from Middles Ages is the boilersuit with the high waist line just below the breast. A wide band on the skirt, while the sleeves were narrow and bell-shaped or wide embroidered with fur and contrasting fabric. The boilersuit was complimented with the legendary surcoat, which was the upper mantlet trimmed with ermine skin.

And finally, the genealogy was very easy to identify by estimating the fabric color, decorations, the size of hats and shape of shoes, as well as the occupation of the wearer. The social norms and laws fully governed the fashion trends with the only goal to have everyone in their place. And even the richest merchant could not afford a range of clothes that only the higher society was eligible to wear. And who said that the Middle Ages was not that austere? The dress code was a must have procedure. Those who used to break the rules and laws were arrested and prisoned and sometimes their fates were tragic to some extent. Fashion victim. The fashion verdict of the sever times.

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