Medieval Costumes for Men

Written by elaine anderson
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Medieval Costumes for Men
A knight is but one example of a medieval costume for men. (Knight on Horse with Feather image by Humza Tarar from Fotolia.com)

For Halloween, a play or festival, there are many options for medieval costumes. Whether you want to be royalty, aristocratic or a pauper, there is a costume to fit almost every class common in medieval Europe. In the rigid feudal system, a medieval man's clothing told anyone who saw him about his status in society.

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The King

Standards of a king's dress in medieval Europe included shoes resembling high slippers and long hose. The tunic and other trappings of a king's wardrobe varied depending on the time period. One thing that remained relatively constant, however, was fur as an ostentatious display of wealth. For your costume, faux fur will likely be more affordable and easier to come by.

Early medieval kings borrowed heavily from the Greeks and Romans and wore their tunics loose and belted around the waist. Later, beginning around 1000, caps began to denote rank; kings wore caps of velvet. A long cloak and pointed shoes also became popular around 1000. Between 1200 and 1300, gold and jewels became part of a king's ensemble. For a very regal look, add some fake gems or cheap broaches to your costume.

Of course, no king costume would be complete without a crown; one made solely of metal would be most appropriate for the period.

The Knight

While knights also wore sumptuous clothing to distinguish themselves as nobles, perhaps the most unique aspect of a knight's attire was his armour. In the early medieval period, a knight's armour consisted mainly of chain mail, which covered his entire body. Chain mail was made from tiny interlocking links in a chain that made up a larger protective adornment a knight draped across his torso. Chain mail, also used for a hood and leggings, was effective against arrows but not blunt weapons. Later, in the 13th century, plate armour was introduced, which provided much more comprehensive protection during battle.

For a costume of either chain mail or plate armour, you will likely not be using metal since it is very heavy, uncomfortable and expensive. For chain mail, consider either embroidered or printed fabric that resembles armour. Or make a plate armour costume from hard plastic pieces, painted and styled to resemble metal.

The Peasant

Male peasants most often wore shorter tunics, leather breeches, coarse cloaks and, perhaps, a hat made of wool in cold weather. Gloves and shoes, worn only for their practical value, were not decorative. A peasant tied his tunic at the waist with a belt, which held a purse, working tools and possibly a knife.

A peasant costume is one of the least elaborate and easiest to assemble. The basic requirements are a loose but short tunic, a belt, tights or leather trousers and some boots.

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