The dress in medieval times was already a highly fashionable item. By this point, excellent quality fabrics from the Middle East were being “imported” into the West and thanks to the medieval crusades, many of them toured all over Europe and America.
It wasn’t just fabrics that became increasingly important, but dyes too.
For the first time, red was being introduced into medieval ladies’ wardrobe, green, which came from lichen, as well as royal blue were invented. Of course, only the nobility had access to them, as importing Mediterranean insects was an expensive business.
Usually, ladies of this century wore an undergarment called a chemise that was made out of linen. Over it, they had one or more ankle-to-floor tonics. Working women cut down the length to the waist and wore their dresses belted.
The bliaut girone was one of the “new in” items of medieval ladies back in the day. This dress was cut in two pieces, as it had a fitted upper and a low waistband portion. Most of the time, this beautiful garment was worn with a long belt.
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Married women often honored the tradition by having a veil over their hair which was parted down the middle and braided. Most of the time, they borrowed false hair or purchased some from the dead to make their own look more luscious.
The shoes they used to wear were complimentary to the dresses, as they were often time made for castle wear. Silk and velvet were their fabrics of choice, which was the reason why they couldn’t go out of the castle and onto the rocky roads (not that they would).
The dress as we know it wasn’t “just a dress”, it was an ensemble of having the right necklace to pair with the right type of shoe and have with the right veil on so that the ladies ended up looking fabulous through and through. Dressing itself was an entire spectacle in itself, as it usually took ladies an hour or longer to get into their attire.
Most often than not, working ladies didn’t have the luxury that higher-born royals did, so whatever the higher class wore was revered as “newest in fashion” and “couture”.
Would you like to know more about the history of the dress? Stay tuned for our next instalment!