View Full Version : Online source for medieval-style clothing?

11-16-2009, 02:12 AM
I've just realized that maybe I should describe my fantasy characters' clothing a bit better, to give a better sense of culture, resources, and such.

Is there some historical recreationst website with a lot of pictures for me to draw clues/inspiration from? So I know, say, how a character's goatskin jacket looks like, or what kind of dyed colors you'll get with 11th century technology?

11-16-2009, 02:15 AM
Did you Google "medieval clothing?"

11-16-2009, 03:11 AM
There's a bazillion or so. Unfortunately, when I had the great computer crash of aught-nine, I lost my bookmarks, but I hadn't looked hard to find them.

Seek medieval mixed with terms like clothing, dresses, commoner, plus the word authentic. A lot that's medieval in appearance is just cool but nothing like what people really wore.

One thing to remember is that only the wealthy could afford tailors or dressmakers. Everybody else did their best, using no patterns. A lot of medieval clothing was baggy shifts of various lengths, cinched in as needed to stay out of the way. It was also practical (leather, for instance, doesn't burn readily, so if you made swords or shoed horses, with the attendant sparks, you wore a leather apron or vest) and tended to be plain, often the natural color of whatever fiber it was made from, like linen or wool, or dyed with whatever colorful crop might be abundant, like berries, beets, or indigo.

Maryn, who's got medieval costume patterns (most not authentic)

11-16-2009, 03:31 AM
Here's (http://www.periodperceptions.com/danish.html) a very good online source.

Also, museums that do historical reenactments will probably have a very knowledgeable costumer on staff.

11-16-2009, 03:51 AM
The best source for this kind of information? Go to Amazon.com and look for books published by Dover. Put 'medieval' in the title or in the subject and it should pull up a hundred listings for inexpensive books (if you buy used from a third-party seller, not directly from Amazon) they're royalty-free clip art books written for every time in history.

I see old Dover clipart books from the 1960's almost every day, and they go into the reject pile - the used book company I work for doesn't sell them, because the old ones aren't worth enough money. In fact, here's an Amazon link to one of those less expensive Dover titles (they don't come with a CD-ROM because the books were printed so long ago). Try this link:


11-16-2009, 04:03 AM
The Costumer's Manifesto site is my first stop for any costume research. It was invaluable to me when I was in the theater and even more so now, with costumes going from the Sumerians and ancient Babylonians to extensive latter century information including patterns, fashion plates, photographs of existing authentic clothing and contemporary art pieces for each era. www.costumes.org (www.costumes.org)

11-16-2009, 04:12 AM
Also, medieval covers over a thousand years, and well over a hundred very different cultures.

Pick a an era, at least 100 years, and at least a general geographic area, if not a culture/language

Manuel Royal
11-18-2009, 04:05 AM
Another good source: Karen Larsdatter's Medieval Material Culture Linkpages (http://www.larsdatter.com/).

11-18-2009, 06:09 AM
I wish I could find a good source for mid-late 15th Century Hungarian and Romanian clothing, with pictures. But I have searched and searched and have found very little. Especially with pictures.

11-19-2009, 02:54 AM
Tepelus, that's a tricky one. This book (http://www.amazon.com/Medieval-Costume-Armour-Weapons-Eduard/dp/0486412407) covers Bohemia from 1350-1450, which is sort of in the general region. It's a Dover reprint, which means that some of the original author's ideas and theories may have been shot down by now, so you should probably read it with a certain amount of scepticism if you're aiming for strict historical accuracy.

I also ran across this reference (http://openlibrary.org/b/OL18098933M/Istoria_costumului_de_curte_%C3%AEn_%C5%A3%C7%8Eri le_rom%C3%A2ne_secolele_XIV-XVIII)while trying to remember the name of the other book. I think the title says A History of Court Costume in Romanian Lands, 14th to 18th Centuries. I've never seen this one, but the catalogue says it comes with 203 pages of plates, so even if you don't read Romanian it could be useful.

11-19-2009, 10:03 AM
You might also look amongst the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms) for costume resources and references. They require that all costumes be as historically accurate as possible. This isn't always (often) true, but the diehards are very strict on themselves. Wikipedia might also have a stub or two you can use to fuel a Google search for pictures. Find something you know or suspect is what you want and follow the links on Wiki. Be careful-it's very easy to wander off on an interesting tangent when doing so. Not that I'd have personal experience with that.

11-19-2009, 07:56 PM

This is a online store but it's a good start as it does separate by different times and countries. It also provides a little history as well. Good for visuals. Again, mostly for visuals and starting points than actual history.