Ancient history

Tips for the (first) medieval garb

In our shop, we often have customers who want to dress for a medieval market, a medieval wedding, a LARP event or something similar for the first time. We then go on a sort of exploratory tour together:Does the person want to represent a certain epoch, what does they feel comfortable with, what do they like, should it be simple or pompous, how much should and should it cost, and so on and so forth. Due to the distance, unfortunately not everyone can come to our shop, so we are giving you a few tips for your first medieval garb here on our blog.

A short note in advance:This blog post serves as a first orientation in the clothing jungle. We know that many people buy their first outfit based on taste and that's absolutely fine. But in order to raise awareness of historical clothing, we have peppered the article with a few tips. One could also go into much more detail, but that would go beyond the scope of a clear introduction.

Medieval clothing for men

Let's start with the gentlemen. The basics usually consist of a tunic / shirt, pants, belt and shoes. The rest is more or less freestyle and rounds off the clothing:bag, cowl/cape/surcoat, jewellery, headgear and accessories.

Tunic / Shirt

When deciding whether it should be a tunic or a shirt, it depends on what you want to represent. If you want to represent the Middle Ages or Roman antiquity, a tunic is suitable. You can then also choose between different designs, for example Roman tunics, Viking tunics or late medieval models. Also in LARP, a tunic is more suitable for most characters than a shirt.

You choose a shirt if you want to implement a Renaissance or modern representation, for example a pirate outfit. We are aware that not everyone who visits a medieval market wants to represent a specific era. As a rule, they are looking for a garment that is comfortable and fits into the ambience. This is completely right! If that's the case, then you can decide freely between shirt and tunic, depending on what you like and what you feel comfortable in.

As Christin already noted in the live stream:Please always try on the tunics and shirts with a matching belt, even if you have to dig it out somewhere first. It just looks a lot better. If you don't have one yet, we have very affordable belts with ring clasps. It's best to order them at the same time, you won't regret it!


Pants were cut very simply in the Middle Ages and played a secondary role for a long time. Why? As already mentioned, the men wore tunics and these usually went to the thigh, sometimes even to the knee. That means the pants were mostly covered. If calf wraps were put on with the tunic, they even disappeared completely. Tunics only became shorter in the High Middle Ages.

Trousers still had their justification, for example to protect the legs against the cold and against external factors such as friction when riding or abrasions when walking through thickets. Incidentally, opinions differ as to whether trousers were worn under the tunic by Romans and Vikings in summer at all when they weren't riding.

The best-known ancient/early medieval pants are the so-called Thorsberg pants, named after several finds from the Thorsberg Moor. The oldest finds of this kind were dated to the 2nd to 3rd centuries. However, their cut was still worn centuries later with slight variations, which is illustrated quite well by similar finds from Haithabu from the 11th century.

leg warmers

Leg warmers are usually counted as underwear, but since they can be worn as the equivalent of pants, they get their own consideration in this post.

The oldest find of leggings dates back to the Neolithic Age, namely from the famous glacier corpse Ötzi. That is why leg warmers are considered the forerunners of trousers. Leg warmers consist of two individual leg parts, which sometimes also cover the feet or have a narrow strip of fabric (bridge) running along under the feet. The leg warmers are fastened to the bra, a kind of underpants, or to the belt with ties.

Leg warmers are particularly suitable for a late medieval depiction, and are also available in two different colors. Since at that time the tunics were sometimes no longer worn for so long, you can see the leg warmers on a number of medieval depictions. Most leg warmers shown are red, followed by black and brown.

Incidentally, the term Beinling is a neo-German neologism. It was established because leg warmers in Middle High German as hose were called, which led to confusion in relation to our modern pants. In English they are still called hosen (sing.:pants). Incidentally, leg warmers are the reason why people still speak of a pair of pants even if only one is meant.


Underwear as we know it today did not exist in the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, undergarments were worn to protect the outer garment from bodily vapors.

If you are wearing your first medieval garb, you can of course wear modern underwear. Unless it “shimmers through” in neon colors, nobody will see it anyway. If you want it to be as authentic as possible, you can grab a bra and an undertunic. At high temperatures you will also find one or the other reenactor stripping naked under the tunic.

Undertunics are usually made of a rather light fabric, monochromatic (usually natural) and not decorated. Not only do they protect the outer garment, they also look great when they contrast in color. Undergarments were also sometimes worn as nightwear.


In the Middle Ages, men also usually wore something on their heads. Depending on what activity they were doing, it was a simple hood in everyday life or a padded hood under the helmet in combat or training. Headgear protected the head from wind and weather, dirt and parasites such as lice. The padded hood also offered the head protection against vibrations and ensured a more comfortable fit of the helmet.

We are aware that wearing a bonnet offers an unusual image. Many of our customers therefore do without it. If you still want to wear something on your head, possible alternatives would be a leather cap, a Birka cap, a hood, a felt hat or a beret.

Medieval clothing for women

Women even have it a bit easier when it comes to medieval clothing:a medieval dress, shoes, and a belt are basically enough.

The medieval dress

In the Middle Ages, women usually wore a dress. This often had a similar cut to the men's tunic of the century, except that it reached to the ankles. A cloak was sometimes worn over the dress. In the early Middle Ages, women wore an apron dress over the dress, later a so-called cotte or an apron.

First of all, you have the choice of whether you want a rather simple or a richly decorated medieval dress for your medieval garb. However, simple dresses are easier to combine and offer you the opportunity to decorate the dress yourself with decorative seams or borders, if you wish. In the early Middle Ages, the clothes of the nobility were not so different from the clothes of the lower classes, because the higher the rank was reflected more in the jewelry. From the High Middle Ages, however, this changed increasingly. While the lower classes continued to prefer simple cuts so that the clothes would not interfere with their work, the dresses of the noble ladies became more sophisticated in terms of cut, fabric, colors and decorations.

Please note:With medieval clothing, it is advisable to keep your legs covered at all times, as it was not appropriate for a woman in the Middle Ages to show her ankles. So if you wear several layers, for example consisting of a cotte, dress and slip, at least one layer should reach the floor.

Our tip:In the Middle Ages it was customary to wear a belt. On the one hand, it gave the dress a beautiful shape and offered the opportunity to attach belongings to it. It is best to always try on your medieval dress with a belt, because then it looks even better.

Blouse and skirt

Not all women want to wear a dress. Some people don't feel comfortable with it, others just don't like it that much. The blouse and skirt combination is a nice alternative if you want to visit a medieval market with it. However, this outfit goes more in the direction of the Renaissance, because according to current finds, only dresses were worn in the Middle Ages.

The advantage of a blouse and skirt ensemble is the multitude of possible combinations. Just exchange the blouse and the entire medieval garb looks completely different. When it comes to skirts, make sure they reach the floor. A short or half-length skirt may be very beautiful, but it is not very medieval.


Above all, our LARP customers prefer to portray combative characters, whereby both a dress and a skirt are very cumbersome. I need pants!

The same applies here as for men's trousers:They are usually kept rather simple. Because they are so simple, there are no medieval pants for women in our shop. Depending on your size, you can either look around at the men's trousers and then buy one size smaller (Hagen trousers usually fit quite well) or go for size 164 children's trousers (Thore medieval trousers).

Please be aware of this:If women wore trousers/men's clothing in the Middle Ages, this must have been the absolute exception. Basically, it was frowned upon and even forbidden by law. There are numerous known cases in the early modern period in which women disguised themselves as men in order to be able to practice a man's job (usually a soldier). In the Middle Ages it could also have existed in the mercenary armies, but this is hardly documented. Jeanne D'Arc is not a good example of this in the sense that she did not "disguise" herself as a man, but wore men's clothes in public as a woman (which was to be her undoing in the end). A few women were more or less tolerated in the military, such as Jeanne de Belleville and Joan of Flanders.


A woman's underwear in the Middle Ages was different from a woman's underwear living today. Fragments of a bra were found, but that may not have been the norm. Rather, undergarments were worn, which protected the outer garment from human vapors.

Should you give up underwear now? As for the men, the same applies here:What you don't see can definitely be modern. When you visit an event for the first time in medieval garb, you should feel comfortable. Underwear can sometimes help.

A little tip:If the medieval event takes place in spring or autumn, it is even advisable to wear thermal underwear. Of course, you can also let the mead warm you up, but that can end badly.


If anyone can hook you up, it's us! Joking aside, there were different types of headgear in the Middle Ages, since a married woman usually didn't go "topless" in public. This was considered extremely improper!

If you would like to do the same as the ladies in the Middle Ages, then you have the following options:

a) You can wear a headscarf. This was, for example, placed over the hair as a veil and fastened with a headband. For work, however, it was better to tie the scarf tightly around the head, for example as a pennant.

b) Coifs were very popular in the Middle Ages. They were either elegantly pleated or simply cut. They could be closed under the chin with two straps. Even if the sight sometimes seems a bit strange to us today:In medieval depictions you can see most of the covenant hoods closed.

Medieval clothing for children

In the Middle Ages there was no clothing specifically designed for children. They wore the same cuts, fabrics and colors as the adults, just smaller. Especially in poorer families, clothing was passed on from child to child, which sometimes meant that it did not fit properly.

If you are looking for clothing for your child, then you can proceed in exactly the same way as you would for clothing for adults. You can find our children's clothing here:

Boys wear a tunic or shirt, trousers, shoes, possibly a cape and children's calf wraps. Girls wear either a dress or a combination of blouse and skirt, plus shoes and possibly also a cape and calf wraps.

For belts, we recommend our simple belt with a ring clasp. On the one hand, this can be wrapped twice and, on the other hand, it can be easily shortened with scissors.

There are two different versions of medieval shoes for children:children's shoes with laces and children's shoes with straps.


Medieval leather shoes are usually the most expensive part of a garment. Many people who go to a market in medieval garb for the first time therefore use ambient-looking shoes from the shoe market around the corner. That's perfectly fine to start with. But please take the time and look around for simple leather shoes to lace up. Because sneakers are really not marketable. It would be a shame if you put so much effort into your first outfit and then ruined the image with kicks.

Some also go to the market barefoot. Of course that is also possible, but please be careful and prepare for pain if you are not used to it. Stones prick on gravel, it gets extremely hot on asphalt when the sun is shining, and sometimes broken pieces are hidden in the lawn. Everything was unfortunately already there. Be sure to pack plasters and "emergency shoes".

If you would like to reach for adequate medieval shoes, then you have the choice.

  • Turned or not turned
  • With straps (from the High Middle Ages) or for lacing
  • Nailed or not nailed

We will dedicate a separate article to the shoes, so we will leave the topic here for the time being. But we would like to give you one more thing:The soles of authentic shoes (especially the turn-sewn shoes) do not meet our current standards. They're a lot thinner. If you decide to wear these shoes, you should cushion them with a thick insole if necessary. Don't buy the shoes too small, because thick socks are very popular in bad weather.


Jewelery was already very popular in the Middle Ages and many finds testify to a very pronounced craftsmanship. In the Middle Ages, jewelry was used to indicate the (wealth) status of the wearer, and the valuable gems were also used as a kind of investment. Not everyone could afford bronze, silver-plated or even gold-plated jewelry, so it was reserved for the better off. We deliberately do not speak of nobility or clergy, since a successful merchant or a free farmer could also bring prosperity.

If you would like to complement your medieval garb with jewellery, then all doors are open to you:

  • Necklaces
  • Bracelets
  • Finger rings
  • Fibulae/robe clasps
  • Beard beads / hair beads

You will find medieval jewelry of different colors with us. Some pieces of jewelery are replicas of certain finds, others take up historical symbols and patterns. Particular attention is paid to the themes of Celtic and Viking Age culture. From Thor's hammer, representations of the fertility goddess Freya or the world tree to representations of ravens, snakes and wolves, the selection is very large.

Our tip:Do you prefer it simple? It is often enough to wrap a simple leather strap around your wrist several times. You can also tie artistic knots in the straps and then wear them as a necklace.

Gugle / cape / cloak

Capes and coats are really great and undoubtedly enhance medieval clothing. Not only do they look great, they also keep you warm and can be used wonderfully as a blanket or seat pad. Cloaks were worn throughout the Middle Ages and changed little over the centuries.

The cape's little brother is the hood. It is much shorter than a cloak and only covers the head and shoulders. There are closed and open hoods, both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Both capes and open hoods usually have two straps with which they can be closed. If you like it and it suits your portrayal, robe clasps are also wonderfully suitable as clasps, for example our twisted ring brooches.

Some people put fur over their shoulders for aesthetic reasons or because it's cold. If you like it, do it! However, there is no evidence that this was worn in the Middle Ages. On the other hand, it goes very well with many medieval fantasy depictions.


Nowadays belts are worn on trousers, but you will look for belt loops in vain on medieval trousers. Because in the Middle Ages people wore the belt over the tunic/dress. As already written, you should always try on these garments with a belt. They lie much better as a result and it looks more authentic overall. Simple belts with ring clasps are available from us for little money and the purchase is really worth it. By the way, you can already find a post on our blog on how to tie a long belt with a ring clasp.

Belts were worn throughout the Middle Ages. Unlike today, however, they were much longer, so that the ends were left hanging loosely. At least if you could afford it, because leather was an expensive commodity in the Middle Ages. Basically one can conclude that the length of the belt said something about the prosperity of the wearer. This went so far that in the 12th century it became fashionable to wear the belt so long that it had to be wrapped around the body twice.

In addition to the simple belts with ring clasps, there are also elaborately decorated belts. These often not only have a magnificent buckle, but also a strap end fitting – usually similarly decorated. The latter provides additional weight at the end of the belt so that it "falls" well.

For women we have a number of bodice belts that conjure up a great waist. However, these are more likely to be assigned to the Fantasy Middle Ages.


Most medieval bags and pouches attach to the belt. In the Middle Ages they were indispensable, because trousers and dresses did not have sewn-in pockets. Everyday items that you wanted to take with you were kept in a belt pouch.

For someone wearing medieval garb, such a bag offers plenty of space for belongings. At the same time, you hide modern knick-knacks like car keys and hygiene items in it. The size of your bag depends on the storage space you need.

If you have a lot of things that you need, you can also grab the shoulder bag. Our Haithabu bag is recommended for depictions of the early Middle Ages and Vikings. From the High Middle Ages we recommend the pilgrim's bag.

Accessories for your medieval garb

Your medieval garb is ready, shoes, belt, bags, everything is there. Basically, you have everything for now, but if you're looking for more inspiration, you might like these ideas:

Calf wraps

Calf wraps are great for an early medieval depiction, for example of Vikings or Slavs. They look great and keep you nice and warm when things get a bit uncomfortable. There are different ways to tie them. Once they are wrapped, you can either close them with pretty decorative hooks or simply push the end into the wrapped fabric.

A utility knife

A nice detail that rounds off your medieval garb is, for example, a historical utility knife on your belt. Like the bag, knives were also worn on the belt. In the Middle Ages, everyone who could afford it had their own and brought it with them when they were invited somewhere. If you want to carry your historical knife on your belt, make sure that a leather sheath is included when you buy it.

Small props

Depending on what you want to portray, you can get a few more props.

  • a small leather book
  • Bone Cube
  • a telescope for sailors (modern depiction)
  • a clay or horn cup (if you want it to be authentic) or a drinking horn (fantasy)

Short digression:Colors in the Middle Ages

Contrary to what is made clear in various films and series, the clothing of the Middle Ages was not only characterized by dark, earthy tones. With the simplest of means, i.e. plants from the region, even poorer people could (theoretically) dye their clothes, for example with birch leaves or onion skins. Whether they always did is another question. Because even if they had the opportunity, the dyeing was both time-consuming and material-intensive. You needed a relatively large pot, a lot of water, firewood and usually a large amount of coloring material.

Nevertheless, it can be said that if you are aiming for a more authentic representation, you can boldly reach for colored fabrics, both as a man and as a woman. The higher your rank, the more colorful your robes.

Black and Yellow

Again and again there are discussions about the colors black and yellow. The former is said not to have existed in the Middle Ages, the latter was said to be the color of prostitutes.

Let's look at black first. Since there was black wool, why shouldn't there also have been black textiles? We could end the discussion here, but we would still like to note that coloring black was also possible. There were even different procedures that were of different value. Dressing in black, outside of the clerical costume, must have been rather unusual.

Let's get to yellow. Was it the color of the prostitutes? In medieval Europe, a period that lasts at least 1000 years, certainly not permanently and not everywhere. In most cases, those affected wore a yellow ribbon rather than a fully colored robe. If in doubt, you should research how this was handled in the region at the time of your presentation. In addition, it could be the case that you are repeatedly confronted with this opinion at medieval markets, which may at some point diminish your desire for yellow.