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Life in a Medieval Village

Wardrobe: Men

Men

As in the previous centuries, two styles of dress existed side-by-side for men: a short (knee-length) costume deriving from a melding of the everyday dress of the later Roman Empire and the short tunics worn by the invading barbarians, and a long (ankle-length) costume descended from the clothing of the Roman upper classes and influenced by Byzantine dress.

Underclothes consisted of an inner tunic (French chainse) or shirt with long, tight sleeves, and drawers or braies, usually of linen. Tailored cloth leggings, called chausses or hose, made as separate garments for each leg were often worn with the tunic. Striped hose were popular.

During this period, beginning with the middle and upper classes, hose became longer and more fitting, and they reached above the knees. Previously, they were looser and worn with drawers that ranged from knee- to ankle-length. The new type of hose was worn with drawers that reached the knees or above, and they were wide enough at the top to allow the drawers to be tucked into them. They were held up in place by being attached to the girdle of the drawers.

The better fit and girdle attachment of this new hose eliminated the need for the leg bands often worn with earlier hose. In England, however, leg bands continued to be worn by some people, both rich and poor, right up to the reign of Richard I. After 1200, they were largely abandoned.

Men of the upper classes often went hatless. However, rural lower classes had a few hats to choose from. The chaperon in the form of hood and attached shoulder-length cape was worn during this period, especially by the rural lower classes, and the fitted linen coif tied under the chin appeared very late in the century. Small, round or slightly conical caps with rolled brims were worn, and straw hats were worn for outdoor work in summer.



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