A Knight’s Wardrobe – What’s Underneath?

When you think of a knight’s attire of the medieval times, you most likely envision one in shining armor galloping in on a white steed to save the day!  But here’s a shocker…knights actually wore more than just armor.  Crazy, huh!?!  As battle was dangerous and armor could be penetrated, knights required layers underneath for protection.  Generally, a knight’s wardrobe was practical, but on occasion left room for a bit of style.

When it came to clothing, the main concern for the knight was protection.  Because these valiant guys fought in the sun, armor could get quite hot and could burn the knight without padding underneath.  In addition, the feel of fabric was no doubt more comfortable than metal armor rubbing against the skin.  Thus, knights wore linen undershirts and linen underpants called gipouns.  The underpants had laces that tightened the garment securely around the body, preventing armor from touching the flesh.

Gambeson:

Gambeson

To ensure extra comfort, knights wore a long quilted coat, stuffed with linen or grass.  This garment could be referred to as a doublet, aketon, arming, gambeson, or heketon.  There was also a cheaper, and sometimes more accessible, garment called a fustian for those of lower wealth.  To shield from the rain, knights were sometimes seen in long cloaks as well.

Atop their armor, knights wore long robes called surcoats.  These garments were fastened at the waist and were accompanied by long bands on the sleeves.  To give the knight some breathing room, this attire was open at the bottom.  Surcoats played a huge role in knights’ armor, as they showcased the coat of arms, identifying the knight on the battlefield.  The coat of arms was also seen on a matching shield.

Knights Templar Costume:

Knights Templar Costume

Because the Middle Ages were not like the days of ancient Rome, knights definitely did not wear sandals.  Instead they wore flat closed toed shoes, usually made from tanned leather or tawed skin.  They also wore woolen stockings to insulate their legs and feet.  Other attire of note was hats (which distinguished rank), belts, and pouches.

So, the next time you see a knight, be it on film, in a photograph, or live, remember that there is more than just armor to these guys.  To see our collection of knightly garb, go to http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/.

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