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Medieval clothing

Sunday, 21 September 2008

medieval clothing In the 12th century especially in France, Roman clothing looked like a religious habit was gradually changed by tight-fitting and more graceful clothes. In the 19th century the clothes finally acquired a secular appearance. Coarse clothes of the previous epoch without cutting up into pieces was changed to properly stitched and tight-fitting clothes, made according to tailoring laws. 

New dresses of the epoch made of new types of fabric, namely of light cloth of Flanders and Italian origin, softly covered a figure. Fabrics could be cut up easier and at the same time were firm enough and suitable for any drapery. Some of fabrics could change their color under the influence of light. These dresses appered in the 13 century, however, there are controversial opinins where they were tailored first: in Italy or in France. Both were considered a cradle of knightly culture, being expression of new esthetic ideals reflected in female and male fashion.

The image of an ideal man also was changed. Earlier it was a brave warrior dressed in coarse war trousers and pelts. But at that time the ideal m an looked rather effeminate: with long curly hair, decorated with flowers and dressed in womanlike clothes. Color combinations had deep symbolic meanings. The one who "served" a favorite woman was dressed in her favorite color. The proofs of such "service" can be found not only in French, but also in Czech literature, for instance: "I want to serve her truly and be close to a woman who brings me joy and wears the same color as I do."

Servants also wore the clothes of their masters' favorite colors: in this manner their friendly attitude was shown. The combination of several colors was also applicable. The most fashionable color of the epoch was yellow, and it was considered a male color. But morality and modesty adherents were against this color, as coloring clothes into yellow was expensive and luxury that, in their opinion, was demoralizing.

Gothic fashion with its tight-fitting clothes, peculiar body positions and the manner of clothes wearing can be observed in the facades and portals of cathedrals where saints and kings are displayed, and also in the artistic miniatures of medieval painters. Changed cut of clothes appeared in patterns of sleeves and in their connections with the shoulder. Tightly fitting to the shoulder, a dress followed the lines of the body making it visible. Sometimes sleeves widened in wrists, turned into corners in shoulders and flew down to the ground. A waistcoat was replaced by a cut out bodice made with the help of side seams and tucks.

In the 14th century to make the bodice tighter, it was furnished with lacing or rows of buttons. Buttons appeared in the first part of the 14th century, when the dress was so tight-fitting that it was hardly possible to move. Only then a loose blanket turned into a cut up intricate dress. At that period of time people bid farewell to a loose antique tunic. A waistcoat, which was closed in the 13th century, started to uncover the neck and later - the breasts. A skirt was lengthened to a tail, setting off hips. Outer garments with sleeves and without them, with a wide décolleté were put over this tight dress. Slenderness of the waist, wideness of hips and softness of the breasts was set off by a cut and decoration of outer garments. The raincoat of cloth made up with fabric of a different color or fur also belonged to traditional clothes. It was fastened by an agraffe or a usual clasp.

During this period it was fashionable to cover the head with a blanket, as Etruscan women did. Women covered their heads with blankets made of varied light fabrics, each with a special symbolic meaning. For instance, importance of a moment and sorrow was underlined not only by dark colors of clothes, but also by a blanket position - in this case it covered a face; and vice a versa, happiness and joy was characterized by bright colors and differently attached blankets. Curly hair flew down to shoulders: at that time frizzle for both men and women was a usual phenomenon. Frizzle was made with the help of hot tongs or special sticks, being objects of derision for morality adherents who considered frizzle the greatest sin. But in poetry, maidens' curly hair, decorated with golden chaplets, sparkling diadems and bright flowers, were praised. Married women covered their heads with expensive blankets.

In the 14th century hoods were very popular. It was mentioned in the Limburg chronicle of the year 1389 that hoods decorated one's head like an aureole. Harmonious and stylish Czech medieval fashion burst into blossom and overcame eccentric French fashion. In the pictures of that time we can see women dressed in sheer, fitting-tight shirts without sleeves, which fit close to the waist and breasts and uncovered the figure. These shirts looked like summer dresses of underwear of our time. Straps of these skirts were made of another material serving as decoration. A waist was covered with a ribbon, slightly moved to a side, made of a blue fabric.

Analogy between gothic fashion and architecture was mentioned in literature. Like in architecture, fashion of this period was characterized by straight lines: vertical ends of upper sleeves, sharp wristbands, groins, oblong hats and taper shoes perfectly underlined this tendency. At the same time gothic clothes kept the elements of the previous period: a raincoat, for example, which was modified in its own way, a blanket, made of new fabrics and acquired new functions. Roman fashion also was based on a shirt-like, non-fitting tight cut. Gothic cut absolutely suited a figure of a person, and it is often said that nothing could overcome it. It was a merit of tailors, who kept their methods in secret and were united into work shops, where only men were occupied with clothes production.

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