Top Ten Medieval Clothing Must Haves

The medieval period is a vast swath of time covering a myriad of different cultures and fashions. However, just like how there are some common threads (puns) between the suits of the roaring 20s and the business dress of the Covid 20s, there are some must have necessary elements of medieval dress every living history or reenactment impression should consider incorporating to be considered complete.

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Medieval Country Society

We have all learned about medieval feudal hierarchy in school, but there is a lot more to society than an easy to read pyramid chart. We can we learn from the nuances of peasant and noble perspectives and apply them to our living history and reenactment impressions. This is also a collaborative project with Andrew from Modern Medieval Man​ and his YouTube alter ego Popula Urbanum. My video focuses on the country, and his on how feudalism operated in the city as metropolitan areas started to buck the trend of rural feudalism.

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Unique Portrayals (I.E. Why I Don’t Want to Be A Specific Person)

When putting together a living history impression one must consider multiple elements, to include material culture as well as knowledge and skills. Each element must be judged on its own for accuracy and authenticity (a conversation for another article) and has to be relevant and coherent to the other elements worn, demonstrated, presented, or carried with the rest. The amount of effort the living history community will invest to reproduce the minutiae on historical elements is dizzying. From the choice of materials to the method of construction incalculable amounts of time and resources are spent on ensuring everything is correct for its place in time and purpose. Though the conversations continue about various shades of the authenticity versus accuracy subject, the subtext of what the community strives for is to have a reasonable aesthetic passable for normal in the time and place we portray. Our material culture should support this underlying goal. In everything I portray, my goal is: if I, in my living history kit, were to be flung back in time to the 1400s, I could walk down the streets of Nantwich or across the battlefield at Shrewsbury and (as long as I did not say anything, I do not speak Middle English) not raise a single eyebrow or garner a curious glance by looking out of place.

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Why 1396?

I have mentioned once or twice that the date range I’ve narrowed my impression down to is 1396 – 1420 (or, 1410 +/- 10 years). I have also mentioned that the 1420 date is mostly a convenient, group compliant, estimate and that the impression is probably more accurately in the 14 -teens. Why, then, if my end date is so vague, am I so specific about 1396? Because that’s the year the Turnip of Terror was the High Sheriff of Cheshire.

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