Fashion History – Clothing of the Middle Ages in Western Europe

The Middle Ages encompasses the time from the Fall of the Roman Empire in 400 CE until the beginning of the Renaissance, around 1500 CE.

Clothing of the Early Middle Ages, or Dark Ages, was basically a tunic and under tunic, both sewn from a cross shaped piece of fabric that was folded and hand stitched. Later, the tunic was cut in two pieces, then four piece for a better fit.

Peasants and serfs made their clothes at home of wool and hemp. The shearing, and cleaning of the wool; the spinning, and weaving was a long drawn out chore before the invention of the spinning wheel and the horizontal loom. But the garment were durable and long lasting. One garment could last a life time.

While the upper classes and aristocracy wore basically the same type of clothing, their under tunics were made of linen which was made for them by workers. Upper class women sewed tunics at home and some were made by professional tailors.

Due to the loss of trade that followed the end of the Roman Empire, trade was minimal, so the importation of fine fabrics was expensive and rare. But finer weaves, borders, and embellishments made for better clothing for the elite.

After the invention of the horizontal loom and spinning wheel, the manufacture of clothing became easier. These technological improvements made finer clothing more available and affordable. The Crusades introduced silk, damask, and other luxurious fabrics and designs into Europe. And when Marco Polo's adventures heralded a new interest in the Far East, trade increased, creating greater availability of textiles, design ideas, and new patterned fabric to Europe.

Clothing worn by the nobility and merchants began to change, introducing the concept of fashion. While the Church dictated certain aspects of dress for modesty, such as veils for women, alterations in the in the types of fabrics used varied the styles that became popular. Women wore veils made of sheer muslin, interwoven with golden threads. Gowns became more ornate with variations in the neckline, sleeves, and hem lengths.

The establishment of guilds and improvements in the manufacture of clothing created an upwardly mobile middle class able to emulate the clothing styles of the upper class. New styles emerged including the elaborate head dresses of the later Middle Ages. The head dresses that looked like horns were wildly popular for a generation, as was the classic fairy tale princess style of hat called a hennin. A hennin was a tall, conical hat worn with a veil, a style much identified with the Middle Ages.

The later Middle Ages saw women's gowns grow trains, and sleeves elongated so that long flaps reached the ground.

The changing of style and middle class interest in emulating the clothing styles of the elite created what we think of today as fashion.

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The Middle Age Women of Today

Up until this point, life has probably been about taking caring of and making everyone else happy. You have been putting everything into making your marriage successful, and you have poured your energies into making a happy home for your children.

At some point, you've put your career on hold for the benefit of others, and you have had to make decisions that you did serve your happiness. It is part and parcel of your existence, and that's just the way it is for many women.

There's no better time than now to take control of life and start doing more for yourself than now.

Doing More for Yourself

You're at midlife, enthusiastic, flourishing, and ready to tackle life. It's time to kiss guilt goodbye, and embrace what you love. It's time to do something new, whether you want to learn a new language, how to play the piano, or you have always wanted to learn how to dance the waltz.

Your midyears are the perfect time to step outside your comfort zone and throw yourself into something new.

It's time to embrace your confidence!

There's nothing sexier than the confidence that life experience brings. While aging might sound scary, living in fear will hold you back from living a full life. So, keep moving forward, learn every day, and listen to your heart.

Don't be afraid to be bold, present, brave, and fearless.

"Once you become fearless life becomes limitless."

Hobbies Make the Woman

Whether your interests are in arts, sports, in the home, on the water, or in the gym, you should feel free to dive in headfirst. You can take up a hobby that allows you to socialize with others, or to enjoy time on your own. They can be as cheap or as expensive as you want them to be, and they will help shape your lifestyle, and connect you with likeminded people, and energize you.

When it comes to hobbies for women in midlife, there is no limit. From book clubs, painting, gardening, golfing, and sewing to swimming, dancing, or jazzercise, playing an instrument, and calligraphy, whatever your point of interest, there is a hobby that will bring out the best in you and give you new meaning .

Finding a hobby that you love and that provides you with social engagement is vital to your mental health and overall happiness, especially if you don't get to experience a lot of socializing with your family and friends.

Letting Go of What Matters Less

Saying Goodbye to Judgements

Remember when you were young and you would get dressed thinking about what others may think of your outfit? Versus now, when chances are you aren't too worried about what other people think of how you are dressed or what you are wearing, you're concerned much more with whether you like it or how you feel in it. This is so liberating, a new mindset where you dress and how you look aims to satisfy you and promotes …