Men’s fashion has always been . . . well . . . second place to women’s in most time periods. You slap on some pants and a shirt and your done! But the Middle Ages did offer some things that make men’s fashion more then just a shirt and tie.
For example, the tunic. A simple undershirt which was standard for men and women during this time period. Men’s tunics ranged from waist, to knee to floor length. Longer lengths were popular in early centuries while later in the 1300’s the hem line began to rise to the knee and above. Some fashionable men’s tunics were so short and their leggings so tight that it left nothing to the imagination of court ladies!
Surcoats went over the tunic. These could be short sleeved – with the tunic sleeves flowing out from underneath – long sleeved and sometimes hooded. Knights would wear surcoats over their armor with their coat of arms displayed. Surcoats would fall about calf length with slits in the front and back for leg mobility, and could have sleeves or be sleeveless.
Of course leggings were worn underneath all of this. In the early Middle Ages men’s leggings were similar to women’s knee highs worn today. Each legging was held up with leg bands or a garter. However, leg bands fell out of fashion after 1200. Striped leggings or bright colors were very popular. In later times leggings were fitted with leather soles and were intended to be worn without shoes. At this time leggings began to be more “pant like” as they are now and were held up with a belt.
Medieval Accessories for Men
A chaperon is a type of headgear that was popular through out the Middle Ages. The chaperon started as a simple hood and cape but began to be wrapped around the whole head in elaborate ways, resembling more of a turban.
There was one hat we all know, called the Robin Hood or the Peter Pan. Its name is actually the Bycocket. It is a product of the later Middle Ages, and was worn by both women and men. A great on-line source for all things Medieval including headgear is Kats-Hats.
Belts were worn below the waist line and pouches were attached to the belt. This held coins and other objects of value. Men also attached things like daggers to the belt and wore them to the front of their bodies.
Shoes were simple, made from leather called a turn shoe. However, men of high fashion in later periods began to wear shoes called Crakows or poulaines. They were long pointed shoes that are said to have come from Poland. They became fashionable in the 1300s. While they were worn by women, they were more of a man’s shoe and could reach impractical lengths. For great shoes or boots for your man visit By the Sword or Wulflund.
Liripipes were the long tail end of a hood that was rolled up into a hat. Eventually liripipes became very decorative and very long. Of course gloves were also worn. You can find some that have chainmail – if your man will be wearing that – and also decorative leather ones.
If you are having your man be a “knight in shining armor” here are some things to consider. Full plate amour was not worn until in the late Middle Ages and did not reach it’s peak until the late 15th and early 16th century after which it saw a rapid decline. The Armory has full suits of armor for sale but be prepared to pay!
The Bascinet was a helmet that had the face open and chain male covering the chin and neck. Nasals were the beak like facial visors that covered the face. This was the most popular form of helmet in the later Middle Ages. However, they are not exactly pratical and your man will be thanking God that he really was not a knight in the Middle Ages after wearing one of these!
Chainmail is the base of all Medieval armor, and really all ancient armor. It dates back thousands of years. Chainmail is exactly what it says; it is made from chains. Blacksmiths would make thousands of small hoops that were then chained together to form shirts and leggings. Not the lighests of materials as even a small chainmail bracelet can weigh close to ten pounds.
The Hauberk is a shirt of mail. It should fall to half way down the thighs and have long sleeves, reaching from the elbows to the wrists. It’s main purpose was to protect the throat and the neck and had been popular around the world. It lost popularity in Europe in the 14th century when plate armor became popular.
Chainmail is much less expensive to purchase than plate armor and the hauberk can look very sharp with a surcoat over top. A good website to browse is The Chainmail Guy along with The Very Merry Seamstress catalogue.
This has been fun and I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring Medieval fashion and accessories for men. I’ll leave you with one fun collage of men’s Medieval fashions and next week I’ll tell you about some venues where you can hold your Medieval wedding and what might be on the menu.