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 Difference Between a Chinese and a Western Wedding Ceremony

Since the cultures of China and Western countries are quite different to each other, the weddings are quite different too. With the development of the technology, people know more about each other. And the world becomes smaller than usual. People have been influenced by each other. And they have to change their customs day by day. But there are still some differences between the Eastern and Western people.

The traditional Chinese wedding ceremony is quite complex. There are several important things should be done before the wedding. A matchmaker is needed to help the marriage. After the parents of the boy and girl made an agreement, the man should send bride-price gift to the girl's family. Bride-price is something like money or gold jewelries.

Before the wedding, the bride and the bridegroom could not see each other. Or there is something unhappy to occur. Both the families should prepare a lot for the wedding. And they would choose a lucky day to hold the wedding ceremony. The bridegroom should invite the relatives and friends to take part in his wedding ceremony. And the family of the bride should prepare amounts of things as the bride's dowry. In the past, parents would prepare some daily necessities for the new couple to start their new life. Now they would like to give the new couple money or house as the dowry.

At the wedding day, the bridegroom should go to greet the bride with a traditional band. The bridegroom is quite charming to ride on the horse. He must wear red robe and in a red hat. Unlike Western wedding, the bride wears black suits. Red in China shows happiness and good luck to the new couple. Then the bride leaves her parents to go to the bridegroom's home in a sedan which was carried by men. The bride wears a red Chinese style wedding dress and a Phoenix coronet. And there are several persons take her dowry with her.

Then the wedding ceremony should be hold at the lucky time. The couple would get down on their knees to thank for the God. Then they get down on their knees to thank for their parents. And they would ask their parents to drink their lucky tea. And the parents would give them some gifts in red envelopes to show their blessings. Finally, they would get down on their knees to thank for each other. Then they will be sent to their wedding room.

Chinese wedding is quite different from their traditional one now. Only some ethnic minorities will hold such a traditional wedding. Most of them would like the one between Chinese and Western style. They use the car to carry the bride instead of sedan. They do not get down on their knees on the wedding ceremony. Even some Chinese would choose the Western style wedding ceremony. Most of them do not wear the traditional wedding dress any more.

They keep the tradition to send the gifts to the new …

The Difference of Western and Eastern Clothing Culture

When we talk about eastern clothing culture, what reminds of us is traditional Chinese clothing. However, to western clothing, it seems that we know fewer things. What we will think of is either western-style suit or luxurious noble clothes. Actually, the difference of western and eastern clothing culture is not simple. A clothing culture of a nationality is based on the culture of this nationality. After long history of culture, western and eastern clothing culture form unique characteristics and systems of each other. Now let me tell you something about that.

The first is the difference of color. On the one hand, the characteristic of a nationality revers the love of colors. In ancient China, black was regarded as the imperial color. The colors of imperial clothes in ancient dynasties were black. With the development of feudal central power, people worshiped the earth instead of the god. Therefore, color of clothing was mainly in yellow. On the other hand, in west, white and purple were the most popular color in Roman times. People held the view that white was pure and honest while purple represented elegance. However, since the Renaissance, clothes developed faster and faster. With the development of luxury, bright colors were popular with people. People of Spain like rose and gray while people of England like black.

The second is the difference of the shape. In one hand, Traditional Chinese clothes emphasized the vertical feeling. This design can make people look thin and tall. The most important is that this design can make up the short stature of easterners. In the other hand, classical western clothes emphasized lateral feeling. Extravagant outline of shoulder will have radiative effect. What is more, this design was fit into the passionate temperament of westerners. In the meanwhile, this design was fit into the tall and strong stature of westerners.

The third is the difference of pattern. On the one hand, we can see many patterns in Chinese clothes. People hold the view that lucky patterns show the propitious wish. From ancient time till today, propitious patterns were used widely. No matter expensive silk or common printed cloth, these patterns can be seen easily. These patterns not only show the totem worship but also express the feeling of descendants of the dragon. On the other hand, with the development of history, patterns in western clothes changed continually. In ancient time, people liked to use flowers and other plants. However, in recent generations, animal patterns were popular.

These are three main difference of western and eastern clothing culture. Wish they are useful for you.

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