Celtic Clothing: It’s Complicated

Gaining an accurate picture of Celtic clothing tends to be a bit tricky because the majority of material used for apparel construction has decayed over the centuries.  The best that historians can do is piece the evidence together from manuscripts and other documents, as well as tracking styles from nearby civilizations.  Based on what has been found, it can be deducted that ancient Celts wore garments derived from natural fabrics such as wool and linen.  Perhaps other types of fabrics were also on the scene, but who knows for sure.

Starting with the basics, Celtic women would have worn layers consisting of ankle-length tunics known as leines, dresses, and cloaks.  Celtic men would have worn leines and cloaks, but it would be a safe assumption to say that they skipped the dresses.  Generally, these were the primary pieces of a Celtic wardrobe, pretty simple.

Celtic Chemise:

Celtic Chemise

Taking a deeper look at these pieces, let’s begin with the leine (or tunic).  As the main cloth for this garment was linen, it was lightweight and often sleeveless.  The neckline was round, square, or V-shaped.  Maybe the Celts were the ones who inspired the modern day V-neck trend.  A belt accompanied the leine, which allowed the attire to be shortened by pulling it up above the waistline…a very resourceful way to adjust the length!

As an outer layer, the Celts sported a rectangular shaped cloak, also known as a brat.  Resembling a shawl, it had multiple layers of fabric folded over at the shoulders.  These articles of clothing provided warmth when climates got cold and sometimes they even came with a hood.  Cloaks came in bright colors and were usually accented with a trim of contrasting color.

If you were a Celtic woman, you had a bit of variety when it came to dress selection.  One could choose a formal style with long sleeves and a v-shaped neckline, made of wool.  Then there was the casual dress with half sleeves and an open v-shaped bodice.  And last, but not least, was the high necked modest dress with full sleeves and a skirt.  Each of these dresses was reflective of a woman’s social status.

Celtic Decorated Chemise (Linen):

Celtic Decorated Chemise (Linen)

And thus concludes the overview of Celtic clothing.  With little information to go on, there is not much more to be explored in terms of fashion.  However, the minimal amount of historical findings on these people and aspects of their lives does indeed make them intriguing and a continual hot subject of interest.

To see our collection of Celtic clothing and other offerings, visit http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/.

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