Women's Medieval and Renaissance Costumes

When the Medieval period started, women wore tight-fitting clothes, but the female form was draped in many different layers of dress. By the end of the Renaissance, women had started wearing gowns with tight-fitting bodices and full-bodied skirts. If you are going to an event like a Halloween party, then make sure to consider authentic Medieval costumes or Renaissance costumes.

What Medieval costume pieces can be worn to a party? 

There are many Renaissance costume or Medieval costume clothing items to consider when choosing a costume for a special event.

  • Smock: Medieval rural women often wore smocks cut with lots of material across the back and breast with tube sleeves. This clothing item for women was often heavily embroidered with images taken from where the woman lived.
  • Hose: Women made socks of wool or linen in their homes because only Medieval pastors were allowed to knit.
  • Kirtle: This clothing item was made in several different styles, but all either laced or buttoned. All were long-sleeved, and Medieval women wore them over smocks and under gowns.
  • Houppelandes: Gowns were usually worn over a kirtle with the bodice folding back to reveal elaborate embroidery on the linen kirtle. These Medieval clothing dress gowns often had slits cut for the arms with large pieces of fabric near the neck that could be folded up or down. Many linen Medieval gowns had long trains behind them. Skirts were seldom worn.
  • Surcoat: These Medieval clothing outer gowns came in two basic styles. Many surcoats were lined with fur depending on the weather. This dress item was often reserved for special occasions. A woman's wealth could be determined by how fancy a Medival surcoat she wore.
  • Girdle: Girdles were belt-like strips of fabric, leather, or embroidered fabric that were as elaborate as possible because this clothing item reflected a woman's wealth. Most Medieval women wore this clothing item low on the hips and tied them in the front with the rest of the girdle hanging down the front of the houppelandes or dress surcoat.

What did colors used during the Medieval period mean?

If you are looking for a time-appropriate piece, then you might want to consider choosing the color based on the character you want to present. People during the Renaissance saw the colors of clothing that they wore as very significant, including:

  • White: Pureness and innocence was represented by those who wore of white.
  • Black: Almost everyone wore black as a symbol of mourning while some farmers wore it regularly because it did not show dirt as much.
  • Red: Victory, power, and strength were represented by red attire.
  • Blue: Faithfulness was often represented by blue attire, along with some royal families choosing this color after the ability to make purple was lost.
  • Yellow: Traitors wore yellow, with some courts actually requiring those in trouble with the law to wear this color.