Scotlands History

Clothing

There were strict rules, some enforced by Acts of Parliament, governing who could wear what in medieval and Renaissance times. Fashions changed across the centuries.

The general rule was that the poorer someone was, the simpler their clothes were: a simple belted tunic for peasants, shorter for men and longer for women, generally made of wool or linen.

Men wore ‘braies’ - large baggy underwear - beneath their tunics. Women wore long slips known as ‘kirtles’. Both men and women wore ‘hose’ - leggings like long stockings without feet.

Nobles had access to any fabric they liked, including the exotic silks and velvets brought back by crusaders and merchants, but only royalty were permitted an ermine trim.

We can get a picture of what people wore from medieval stone carvings in churches and on grave slabs, and from figures in ‘marginalia’ - small paintings on the edges of pages in medieval books.

  • Photograph of carved stone image of a man in medieval clothing

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  • A man dressed as a medieval bronze caster in his workshop

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