The Middle Ages - Dress

The Lord The Lord wears a shirt as his underwear. This shirt is plain, light and made of linen to keep his skin from itching. On his legs, he wears warm "hose" (like tights) made of wool. Next, the lord wears a heavy, decorated gown called a houppelande. These gowns are sometimes made of velvet! Most important men wore a belt with a purse attached. He would often have a pendant (like a brooch) and a belt buckle made of jewels. A lordís gown would have "bagpipe" sleeves, which were very baggy but tight around the wrist. Some lords would wear a hat called a chaperon. These hats had long "tails" that were called liripipes. During cold weather, the Lord would wear a heavy cloak lined with fur. Pointed leather shoes were very popular for these men to wear.
The Lady Clothing worn by "royal" people was brightly coloured and made of soft material. Ladies usually wore woolen gowns that were very long. In the early Middle Ages the gowns often had sleeves that could touch the ground! Over top of the gown would be a robe called a surcoat. Embroidery (special sewing stitches with bright coloured thread) was very popular and much of the clothing had this. A jeweled belt was often worn as well. A lady would likely wear a cloak with a fur inside, that would be fastened with a decorative cord or jeweled clasp around her shoulders to keep her warm in the cold castle. Women in the Middle Ages usually had their heads covered. Coverings ranged from a wire circle holding a piece of cloth called linen, to the "cone-shaped" hats with a veil of "filmy" material. How a lady covered her head was a sign of her age and how important she was. Ladies of this time wore expensive jewelry to show others how rich they were. "Pattens" were shoes with high wooden bottoms. These could be worn over top of a ladyís leather shoes when it was muddy outside.
A Merchant A merchant would wear a bulky piece of clothing called a surcoat that ends just above his knees. It would be a bright, "rich" colour and might have a trim of fox fur. A belt would be worn at the waist with a purse attached. Sleeves on the surcoat are called "bagpipe". Stockings or tights would be worn to keep warm. A merchantís shoes would be very long and pointed. Sometimes the shoes worn by important men were so long, that the tips of them had to be fastened to the knee with jeweled chains.

A Serf

Serfs or peasants work long, hard days in the fields. This means that they must dress for this kind of work and do not wear fancy clothing at all. A male peasant wears a rough tunic made of thick fabric to keep him warm. He would also have a cloak over the tunic but it would not be lined with fur like the lord and merchant, but with sheepskin. Long strips of cloth would be worn around the legs. Serfs could not afford leather shoes so they wore cloth ones. If it was muddy in the fields, they would work barefoot. In the winter they would wear heavy clumsy shoes made of wood called clogs. A female peasant would also wear a tunic made out of rough material. It would be heavy and have no shape. To keep the front of her skirt from dragging in the mud in the field, she would tuck it into the belt she wears around her waist.

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