Whether you are just starting out in the world of Middle Ages era re-enactment or you have been doing re-enactments for years, the one thing that should stick out in your mind is authenticity. There is nothing worse than showing up at a re-enactment in inappropriate clothes. It can ruin the entire mood of the situation.
During the Middle Ages, linen was a major component in clothing. For instance, leg hose, or stockings, both worn by men and women. In the early Middle Ages they were often made of linen.
Another important element of clothing in the Middle Ages was the chemise, or undershirt. Such undershirts were made of linen and worn by both men and women.
There are two 100% linen fabrics that are perfect to use for making an undershirt. Depending on whether it is a man’s or woman’s shirt, and if it will be worn alone or with a vest or dress over it, you should use either the light weight IL020 or the medium weight IL019. Since the top edge of the linen chemise was often visible, many times it was decorated.
Early in the era women used to wear a soft linen singlet. It came down to either their ankles or their calves. Since this garment is worn under the undershirt, lighter fabric can be used such as the IS001. The singlet later developed into a full chemise, with long sleeves, though the other style didn’t disappear entirely. Women still wore the singlets under close-fitting undershirts.
Meanwhile, in earlier times men typically wore just a loincloth. The loincloth was a soft, rectangular piece of linen that was wrapped around them and tucked into itself. Some men wore breeches instead. Breeches looked a bit like today’s boxer shorts, but they were made of linen and very loose-fitting. For both of these items, a fine fabric such as the IL020 is a good choice.
Later, men began to wear an under-tunic (chemise) made out of the medium weight un-bleached linen. Gradually, over time, the shape of the garment changed and it became a long-sleeved shirt.
So, the length of the linen chemise varied based on which sex was wearing it and exactly what time period it was. A chemise from the early Middle Ages looked much different from one later on.
If you’re planning to re-enact the part of a Middle Ages era monk, on the other hand, the importance of linen to you lies in the coif. Monks of the time wore mostly woolen habits. However, they wore linen coifs, for warmth. A coif is a white cap made out of medium weight linen that covered their ears. It was tied under their chin, similarly to a baby’s bonnet.
So, when you are looking for Middle Ages re-enactment garb, be sure to do your research thoroughly. It can be hard to make a modern day equivalent of the middle ages re-enactment garment, but, luckily you can find the exact linen match for your re-enactment project at www.fabrics-store.com.