A Glimpse into Medieval Fashion: From Tunics to Socks

Fashion has evolved significantly over the centuries, and today's emphasis on individuality and expression in men's attire finds its roots in the rich tapestry of medieval fashion. As we take a trip down memory lane, let us venture into the fascinating world of fashion during the Middle Ages, where what one wore was heavily influenced by social class and occupation.

Woman dressed in medieval dress

Social Class and Attire

In medieval times, clothing was a symbol of social status. Wealthy individuals had the privilege of adorning themselves in finer materials and longer garments, signifying their elevated position in society. On the other hand, soldiers and peasants chose shorter tunics that allowed them to work in the fields without hindrance. This divide between the clothing of different social classes can still be observed today, albeit with a shift towards designer labels and clothing quality as markers of affluence.

Vibrant Colours and Socks

Natural products like crushed insects, nuts, tree bark, and plants were commonly used to dye clothing during the Middle Ages. Bright colours were particularly associated with wealth and status, allowing the upper class to display their affluence through their attire. Long trousers were a staple, and vibrant socks worn underneath added a touch of flair to their ensembles.

Drawing of medieval man

Sock Evolution

Socks, known as puttees in the 5th century AD, held various meanings during the Middle Ages. Holy men wore them as a symbol of purity, emphasizing the importance of these humble garments in religious contexts. Throughout history, sock lengths evolved from long tights to the shorter socks we commonly wear today, highlighting a shift towards practicality and comfort.

The 1920s witnessed the trend of Argyle socks, which was influenced by the fashion-forward Duke of Windsor. Although the trend waned over time, it has recently made a resurgence in modern times, with men donning Argyle socks to complement their suits and formal attire, showcasing how fashion trends from the past can find new life in the present.

Accessories and Symbolism

In medieval fashion, accessories played a significant role, each serving distinct purposes. Women often wore head coverings not only for modesty but also as a means of resisting temptation, reflecting the deep-rooted societal values of the time. On the other hand, leather was extensively used to craft armour, belts, and shoes, showcasing its versatility and durability.

Extravagant Pointed Shoes

One distinctive trend that gained popularity in the 12th century was the use of pointed shoes. By the 15th century these shoes grew to grandiose lengths of up to 24 inches, becoming an extravagant fashion statement. However, practicality won over fashion for warriors, as they found such elongated shoes impractical for battle and had to trim their points.

Medieval soldier standing in a field


Delving into the fashion of the Middle Ages provides valuable insights into how clothing choices were influenced by social class and occupation. From the distinct lengths of tunics to the symbolism of bright colours and the evolution of socks, historical fashion had its unique charms. Moreover, discovering the parallels between past and present fashion trends offers a deeper appreciation for the ever-changing landscape of style and the timeless pursuit of individuality. By looking back at history, we can better understand the significance of self-expression through clothing and how it continues to shape our diverse and vibrant fashion choices today.