An Overview of Gothic Period Fashion

The height of Gothic style was between the 10-11th centuries and the 14th century.  Byzantine culture was a prominent influence in Gothic dress in the east while styles in the west were always 25-30 years behind.  Because of this, Western Europe began to create their own fashion during the Middle Ages.  One of the biggest innovations, inspired by the Crusades, was using buttons to fasten clothing.  The Middle Ages also brought about the emergence of the tailor which in turn took clothing construction from primarily being a woman’s job to being a man’s job as well.

Gothic Clothing:

During the Middle Ages, individualized style came into view with the wealthy wearing distinct patterns and crests identifying the family name.  However, most people wore simple clothing as opposed to elaborate attire and until the 14th century, there was little differentiation in class styles.  Basically, all people wore the same clothing in all seasons, which comprised of long flowing cloths that completely covered the body, due to Christian influence.  Both genders wore long cloaks as outerwear with an over tunic and an under tunic.  Upper class garment often had fur, silk, or gold lining.  The peasant class wore shorter garments as to not distract movement when working.  And guilds would wear clothing with emblems indicative of their trade.

Gothic Leather Bodice:

Gothic Leather Bodice

Gothic styles for men were characterized by class and trade.  Layers were the fashion of the day, specifically during the 13th and 14th centuries with a knee length, long sleeved tunic worn under a loose, wide sleeved gown, which was worn under a sleeveless, ankle length garment called a “surcote” that hung loose on the body.  Other clothing pieces occasionally worn were the ganache, a loose fitting article with slits in the side and the berigault, a cloak gown.

Gothic bodices:

Gothic Ensemble Coat:

Gothic Ensemble Coat

Gothic women’s styles mirrored that of the men initially and gradually branched out.  Skirts and dresses were extremely long and heavy and drug on the ground and were worn by wealthy women.  Waist lines were high, reaching to the chest, and sleeves were fitted and large.  During the years of the Black Death, women’s fashion became a bit more eccentric with lower necklines, higher hemlines, tightly fitting, and more decorative and colorful.  After the threat of the disease had vanished, women’s style returned to being modest.

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