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Medieval Costume


Another day begins at Knaresborough Castle. It's the winter of 1435 and outfits for both a regular day, and a festival with a neighbour, have already been taken from the chest.


The Lady of The Castle

A simple tunic is all that is needed for the daylight hours. The silks and other rich materials will make their appearance for the upcoming Medieval banquet, however.

Spinning is the main task on The Lady's agenda, so common wool and linen is the material of choice for her Medieval dress. To provide warmth for her head, a linen scarf will hide her hair. A long woolen dress, again for warmth, trimmed in linen and decorated with a bit of embroidery, will suffice as she sits by her loom. Soft woolen, flat-heeled shoes will help to keep her feet warm.

For the festivities at Skipton Castle this evening, it will be necessary to enfold herself in silk, albeit her surcoat will be of ordinary, but highly embroidered, wool. This sleeveless overcoat will help provide warmth.

The latest invention - a corset - will help to emphasise how well she has kept her figure. As Medieval costume becomes more and more tight-fitting, the corset is a welcome addition to The Lady's wardrobe.

Ankles are never on display, so The Lady's garment will be very long. This means that as she walks the gown will be bunched in front of her for easy steps. Covering her entire ensemble will be a cloak, with the fur turned towards her body to keep out the cold winter air.

A simple linen scarf won't do for this evening's function. The Lady's medieval costume will be finished with a hennin, this steepled head-dress being a sign of wealth. Only the rich can afford the long trailing material this head gear requires.


The Lord of The Castle

Sorting important documents is the order of the day for The Lord. As with The Lady, his Medieval dress will consist of wool.

A very simple, knee-length, belted tunic will meet woolen leggings which will keep his legs warm. A cloak, fastened with a plain brooch, will rest around his shoulders. As with The Lady, his feet will be covered with wool slippers.

For the evening's festivities, a velvet houppelande will be the focus of his Medieval costume. This features wide sleeves which end in scallops at the cuff, and a tall collar. The revelers' eyes will then be drawn to his hose-covered legs before coming to rest on his poulaines - extravagant, long and pointed shoes which have taken Medieval society by storm.

As for his head gear, the liripipe had just come into fashion and this is what he'll be wearing. This is a hood with long trailing ends which is effectively made into a turban by looping these ends on top of the piece and augmenting the effect with padding.


The Lord and Lady of the Land

Serfs and peasants do not enjoy clothing of fancy materials. Whether male or female, toiling in the fields requires the durabilty of a rough tunic.

The men wear leggings - cloth wound around the legs and kept in place by strips of material. Cloaks are part of the Medieval dress, but tend to be lined in sheepskin, and not fur. Woolen hats help to keep the head warm.

Women have to contend with the long tunic, although it's customary to tuck the front up under a belt. In their case, showing the ankle was absolutely necessary or the fields would just never get worked. For their head gear, a scarf helps keep the ears warm.

There are opportunities to dress up, however. Weddings and feasts are great occasions and it's during these times that special, more delicate shoes (cloth in summer, clogs in winter) and clothing are worn before being carefully stored for the next such event.


The Children of Both The Castle and The Land

Medieval costume is the same for both the grown-ups, and the children of all classes. Play clothes are an unknown part of children's wear during this, the Medieval period. Children's fashion is driven by what the adults are wearing. Children are regarded as miniature adults and so are dressed in a similar vein.

Article by "Tudor Rose"

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