Fashion of Costumes in 11th Century

Written by anne cagle
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Fashion of Costumes in 11th Century
Garments were simple in the 11th century. (Rosslyn Chapel image by Peter Helin from

In the 11th century, fashions in Europe were slow to diverge from earlier centuries. The fashions were based on Roman Empire clothes with minor modifications. These fashions were plain, unadorned and of rough materials to endure the hardships of work, daily life and war. The simplicity of these garments makes them easy to recreate.

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Men wore a loose tunic made from wool because the material was sturdy. Women wore longer tunics laced up the back to give a tight fit that hugged the body. However, wealthy men and women may have had silk tunics imported from Asia. Only the well-to-do and royalty had silk, because it was expensive to import and dye with various colours. Tunic wearers gathered their clothes at the waist with a band. The tunic had an opening on each side cut down to the hip for easy movement. The tunic styling was simple, with the neck slit open in a V called the vente, and wide elbow-length sleeves. Often the vente was embroidered with bright colours. A shirt of white fabric and long sleeves was worn under the tunic and the cloth showed at the vente opening. Over the tunic, during the cold months, both men and women wore mantles of wool held in place by a metal brooch or secured by drawing a fold of the mantle through a ring attached to the garment shoulder.


Men wore white linen trousers called braies. Men wore stockings called chausses made from wool. Chausses were bound to the leg with leather or cord cross-garters and banded at the ankle and knee.

Women wore a linen shift under their clothing. They did not wear braies but may have worn tight-fitting drawers and pads of linen layers or linen pads stuffed with wool during menstruation.


On their feet, men often wore low leather boots that rose about 2 inches above the ankle. Shoes for both men and women were yellow, green, blue or red with rolled-over tops that were decorated with coloured bands. The shoes rose above the ankle and the toes were slightly upturned.


Men wore hats that were round and brimless, sometimes with a peak in the centre of the crown. The Phrygian hat, with its peak turned forward, was popular. Men often wore hoods under their helmets.

Women wore wimples, or linen veils, that covered their hair. This garment was wound about the throat and held to the brow by a headband made of cloth or leather. Women sometimes embroidered coloured thread or beads on the band.


Men wore their hair cropped close. The king's hair was shaved at the back of his neck. Men, depending on the geographical region, either wore beards and moustaches or were clean-shaven. Women wore their hair long.

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