The Middle Ages is one of the most interesting, scandalous, and favorable by a lot of people period in our history. So many of us know at least something about medieval traditions, clothing, and lifestyle. A lot of reenactors study this era. But there are still dozens of myths regarding everything medieval. Partially because this period was a long time ago, but also, we don’t have nearly enough available info and what we have is often distorted and misleading. Anyway, let’s bust some myths about medieval clothing!
Baggy pants in medieval Europe
People in medieval Europe didn’t wear baggy trousers or hose. There were only a few exceptions, which only confirm the rule. In the Middle Ages in Europe, people didn’t wear pants at all for a long period – they dressed in long tunics and robes, and later, when tunics became shorter, they wore 2 separate tight-fitting choses and a looser sort of shorts called “braies”. Only in the late medieval time, those items were transformed into pants, and even then, the trousers were rather tight-fitting.
Prostitutes wore yellow hoods in the Middle Ages
This is only partially true. In some regions, prostitutes really used yellow hoods or other clothes. Sometimes, they were obliged to do so by the local law, and sometimes, they just purchased yellow clothing because it was cheap (as the yellow dye was comparatively easy to produce). In different countries and even regions of the same country, there were different distinctive features of prostitutes showed off in clothes – striped outfits, headdresses of specific colors, armbands with certain marks, bells, etc.
Medieval attire could include only 1 layer of clothing
No way. Any medieval outfit, no matter male or female, designed for a poor or wealthy person, was always multilayered. Underwear, a tunic, a cloak or coat, and so on. The reason is not only the period’s clothing traditions (when men and women never went in public scantily clad) but also the climate. In the Middle Ages, it was a lot colder than today, so people wore warm woolen clothes to keep their bodies from hypothermia. Natural fabrics can’t protect you from cold as sufficiently as modern innovative fabrics, so medieval citizens always needed a few layers of linen, cotton, and wool.
There were no black fabric in the Middle Ages
It is true that a black dye is harder to naturally obtain. But it’s not impossible. Of course, this color wasn’t too common in the medieval period, but it was present, still. Natural black dye fades rather quickly to gray, and that’s another minus. The easiest way to make black clothes was to take the wool of gray or brown sheep (often, their wool looks almost black naturally) and dye it further to obtain solid and dark black woolen fabric.
Medieval people wore several belts and multiple pouches attached to them
Actually, medieval people didn’t need as many things as we usually carry with us today. Look inside any female clutch or purse, and you’ll find a whole lot of small items there. But in the Middle Ages, they didn’t need as many things in daily life. So, they wore only one belt (warriors could wear 2 belts – a weapon belt and a functional belt). The number of pouches and belt bags was also limited, 1 or 2 was enough. Usually, people didn’t travel far from their home every day, so they didn’t need to carry all their belongings with them.
Medieval clothing and shoes were uncomfortable
There are some qualities of modern clothes and footwear that are much better and easily achieved today, with our modern technologies and fabrics. Like waterproof garments or protective shoe soles, etc. But natural materials are usually very comfy to wear. Nothing can be as breathable and cool to the touch as linen, no synthetic fabric can be as hypoallergenic as cotton or linen, and no shoes are more comfortable and favored by people even today as fine leather footwear. If to talk about wool, it is a magnificent material. Woolen fabric can be diverse – from thick and coarse to fine thin wool used even for underwear. A lot of the best modern dress suits are made from fine wool. There were even techniques invented to make woolen cloth waterproof, though it was harder to obtain than just to buy gore-tex in a store, but not impossible. So, medieval clothing made entirely from natural materials weren’t uncomfortable at all, they were comfy and good for health.