Like everything else in medieval times, fashion and clothing were dictated by power and money held by individuals. The Middle Ages is known for its feudal system – similar to the caste system still prevalent in India to this day, this means that people that stood lower in the system simply didn’t have the possibility to stand out in the way they dressed. The rich and powerful on the other hand, to be quite fashionable and to show their status in society used dress in silk and other exotic materials.
The Medieval Sumptuous Laws of Clothing
According to the Sumptuous Laws of Medieval times, there were seven different social categories, which distinguished every member of the society by their clothing and status. That kind of law dates back to the old Roman era that restricted ordinary and poor people.
Clothes for Medieval Women
In the beginning of the Middle Ages, Medieval women’s clothes were influenced by the elegance of Greek and Roman style, which was hard to copy due to tightness of Medieval dresses and clothes. Greek and Roman women wore several layers of tunics. That was adopted in the Medieval fashion, with its long cloaks and closed pointed shoes.
From the 1200s to 1300s, fashion changed and gold, silver, precious stones and pearls were used extensively. After that period, women started to wear coats and fur coats that trailed on the ground, along with embroidered and lacy hats with wire frame. After the 1400s, dresses’ sleeves became longer, rich with embroidery and fringes.
Moreover, women’s dresses became shorter, but varied from one European country to another. For instance, in Italy, all the dresses were more grandiose. In Switzerland, Holland and Germany, most of the clothes and garments had a massive and quite heavy appearance. England sought elegance and decency in clothes and garments. Spain was still influenced by Gothic style in arts and architecture, so they partly took inspiration from German noblemen and women. Capricious, fickle and changeable, French fashion was always modern, new and innovative even at the time.