1200–1300 in European fashion

Table of Contents

1200–1300 in European fashion

In the thirteenth century, European costume underwent a notable evolution, marked by simplicity in shape yet richness in color for both men and women. The Gothic style, permeating dress, architecture, and the arts, began its influential spread across the Roman Catholic world during this period. Male and female attire grew increasingly similar, with distinctions often limited to hem length, while the elaborate fanned sleeves of the previous century gave way to tightly buttoned sleeves. Although many garments remained relatively unchanged for centuries, the century witnessed a refinement in cuts, particularly among commoners, as imitation of noble fashion gained traction among the burgeoning burgher class. Wool remained the primary material for outerwear, with advancements in dyeing techniques leading to vibrant hues and the introduction of rare fabrics like silk. European silk production flourished, with embroidery techniques evolving away from Chinese influences, laying the groundwork for unique European styles in the following centuries. Predominant dyes included shades of red, basic yellows, greens, and the fashionable lapis lazuli-dyed intense blue, famously adopted by the Kings of France as their heraldic color.

Country : European


Men's Clothing

Men in medieval times typically donned a variety of garments, including tunics, cotes, or cottés layered over linen shirts. A surcoat, like the cyclas, was commonly worn over these layers, initially starting as a simple rectangular cloth with a head hole, eventually evolving into a sleeveless tunic. As time progressed, sleeves and hoods were incorporated, leading to variations such as the garnache, featuring cap sleeves and a matching hood, or the gardecorps, a generously sleeved robe reminiscent of modern academic attire. Formal occasions called for the addition of a mantle as a ceremonial wrap. Hose, shoes, and headwear completed the ensemble. Royalty distinguished themselves with opulent fabrics and sumptuous furs. Hairstyles were kept moderately long, often styled in a pageboy fashion, with curls framing the neck. Footwear, slightly pointed and embellished with embroidery, denoted status, particularly among royalty and high-ranking clergy.

13th century clothing featured long, belted tunics with various styles of surcoats or mantle in various styles. The man on the right wears a gardcorps, and the one on the left a Jewish hat. Women
13th century clothing featured long, belted tunics with various styles of surcoats or mantle in various styles. The man on the right wears a gardcorps, and the one on the left a Jewish hat. Women

Working Clothing

Men engaged in manual labor typically donned a short tunic fastened with a belt, offering flexibility and ease of movement. This tunic often featured a front slit, allowing corners to be tucked into the belt for added mobility. Beneath, they wore varying-length leggings or braies, sometimes visible as they worked with their tunic secured. Hose could be layered over these garments, secured by a drawstring or belt at the waist. Headwear ranged from round caps with slight brims to berets resembling modern French styles, complete with a distinctive tab at the crown. Additionally, workers commonly wore coifs, snug white hoods fastened under the chin, as well as straw hats, particularly favored among farm laborers. The chaperon, resembling a hood draped around the neck and over the shoulders, also remained prevalent. With the exception of aprons for specialized trades like smithing and simple clothes used for tasks like seed sowing, specific work attire was not customary during this period.

Style Points

A woman is depicted wearing a bliaut, a garment cut in one piece from neck to hem and laced at the sides, over a chemise with tight sleeves, while donning a mantle tied with a double cord. This attire is showcased in the Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d’Angers, dating between 1130 and 1160. Another variation, the bliaut gironé, features a finely pleated skirt attached to a decorative waistband at hip level and is typically accompanied by a knotted girdle or cincture, as observed in the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres from the same period. A closer look at the knotted girdle worn with the bliaut gironé reveals the waistband of the skirt above the intricate knotting.

In another scene, Eve is portrayed spinning while adorned in a long bliaut with straight sleeves and a linen veil, around the year 1170. Additionally, depicted in the Hunterian Psalter are two women showcasing differing styles. One woman wears a veil and mantle, while the other, possibly reflecting English fashion of the time, leaves her hair uncovered, and her bliaut sleeves widen at the wrist, suggesting a fashion trend around 1170. Lastly, Queen Leonor of England, positioned on the far left, is depicted wearing a veil that envelops most of her body, illustrating a royal attire choice of the era.

Work clothes
Work clothes
Tunics and mantles
Tunics and mantles

Women's Clothing

Woman in a barbette and coif, sleeveless surcoat, gown and mantle. Sketch by Villard de Honnecourt, c.1230
Woman in a barbette and coif, sleeveless surcoat, gown and mantle. Sketch by Villard de Honnecourt, c.1230
From the Morgan Bible, c. 1250: the wife of Manoah wears a veil and wimple. Note striped hose.
From the Morgan Bible, c. 1250: the wife of Manoah wears a veil and wimple. Note striped hose.

In the transition from the 12th to the 13th century, women’s fashion evolved to embrace a looser and more modest silhouette compared to preceding styles. This period, often referred to as the ‘elegant period’ in Gothic dress by Ortwin Gamber, witnessed a shift towards more refined and graceful attire. Women typically adorned themselves with a narrow belt, often embellished with intricate metal plating in hues like gold and green. The cyclas, a sleeveless surcoat, was a common garment worn over the belt, akin to the attire of men. Among the affluent, garments were further adorned with lavish embroidery, while mantles, secured by a cord across the chest, might feature luxurious fur linings. Women’s attire also included hose and leather shoes, which, like their male counterparts, could be intricately embroidered for special events and occasions.


In women’s fashion of the time, individuality found its voice primarily through hair styling and headgear. Among the distinctive elements was the barbette, a strap under the chin where various hats or headdresses could be fastened. One popular choice was the “woman’s coif,” akin to a modern pillbox hat, which could be plain or adorned with fluted edges. Hair was often secured by a net called a crespine, typically hidden at the back. As the century progressed, the barbette and coif evolved into slender fabric strips, with the crespine enveloping the entire hairstyle, creating a fashionable volume around the ears. These accessories were typically white, contrasting with the potentially colored or golden crespine. Meanwhile, reminiscent of the 12th century, some women, particularly older individuals and widows, continued to don the traditional wimple and veil still seen among nuns today. Additionally, long tunics extending to the ankles were commonly worn over shirts, adding to the overall ensemble.


Affluent women of the time frequently adorned themselves in garments adorned with fur linings, accentuating their wealth and status. Their attire was complemented by an array of extravagant jewelry, meticulously crafted to exude opulence. Rings and brooches, crafted from gold and silver, were embellished with uncut precious and semi-precious gemstones, adding a touch of luxury to their ensemble. Gold, in particular, was a symbol of elite status, reserved exclusively for the upper echelons of society.

Sumptuary Laws

The Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215 marked a significant turning point in the attire of Jews and Muslims in Europe. This decree mandated that Jews and Muslims must dress in a manner that distinguished them from Christians, leading to the transformation of the conical or pointed Jewish hat from a voluntary cultural symbol to a mandated identifier. Initially worn as part of traditional attire, the pointed hat became a symbol of enforced discrimination. In 1267, a law in Breslau enforced the wearing of these hats among Jews who had ceased to do so voluntarily. Concurrently, sumptuary laws regulating the attire of prostitutes emerged in the 13th century, echoing ancient Roman practices. These laws, such as requiring striped cloaks in Marseilles and striped hoods in England, gradually evolved into simpler forms like bands of fabric or tassels. These regulations reflected both the growing urban population’s need for control and the Church’s increasing influence in social matters across Europe.


During this period, shoes evolved with a pointed toe, albeit in a more subdued manner compared to the extravagant styles of the 14th century. Both men and women typically wore shoes that were open at the front, extending from the instep to the toe. Boots remained primarily a masculine fashion choice. Commoners relied on stockings with leather soles and wooden clogs for footwear, often supplemented with woolen garters for practicality and comfort.



Most frequent questions and answers

1. What was the Royal Fashion in the 1200s?

In the 1200s, European royal fashion epitomized opulence and refinement, reflecting the prestige and power of monarchs across the continent. Royal attire was characterized by sumptuous fabrics such as velvet, silk, and brocade, adorned with intricate embroidery and embellishments crafted from precious metals and gemstones. Men’s fashion saw the emergence of elaborate tunics and robes, often featuring ornate patterns and lavish fur trims, while women’s attire boasted voluminous gowns with exaggerated sleeves and intricate drapery. Royal garments were meticulously tailored to accentuate status and authority, with regal symbols and heraldic motifs woven into the fabric. Accessories played a crucial role in completing the royal ensemble, with crowns, scepters, and jeweled belts serving as symbols of sovereignty and majesty. Overall, royal fashion in the 1200s showcased the pinnacle of medieval craftsmanship and luxury, setting the standards for nobility and aristocracy throughout Europe.

2. What is European fashion style?

European fashion style is renowned for its sophistication, versatility, and timeless elegance. Rooted in history, European fashion draws inspiration from diverse cultures, art movements, and societal shifts, resulting in a dynamic and eclectic aesthetic. From the effortless chic of Parisian streetwear to the understated luxury of Italian craftsmanship, European fashion embodies a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation. With a keen eye for quality fabrics, impeccable tailoring, and attention to detail, European designers continuously push boundaries while maintaining a sense of refinement. Embracing both classic silhouettes and avant-garde designs, European fashion style exudes confidence, individuality, and a deep appreciation for the art of dressing.

3. What was fashion like in the 1550s England?

European fashion in the 1550s England epitomized the opulence and grandeur of the Renaissance era. The silhouette of the period was defined by elaborate and structured garments, reflecting the social hierarchy and status of individuals. Nobles flaunted extravagant attire crafted from luxurious fabrics such as silk, satin, and velvet, adorned with intricate embroidery and lavish embellishments like pearls and precious stones. Women’s gowns featured exaggerated cone-shaped bodices and voluminous skirts, while men donned doublets with padded shoulders and slashed sleeves, paired with fitted hose and embellished with intricate embroidery. Accessories played a significant role in completing the ensemble, with elaborate ruffs, jeweled belts, and feathered hats adding flair to the attire. Fashion in 1550s England was not merely a means of self-expression but a reflection of power, wealth, and social standing in a society deeply entrenched in hierarchy and tradition.

4. What is European men’s style?

European men’s style embodies a sophisticated yet effortless aesthetic, blending timeless elegance with contemporary flair. From the streets of Paris to the boutiques of Milan, European fashion for men exudes confidence through tailored pieces, attention to detail, and a keen sense of individuality. Embracing both classic and modern elements, European men effortlessly mix and match high-quality basics with statement pieces, creating looks that are refined yet approachable. Whether it’s the impeccable tailoring of Italian suits or the laid-back coolness of French streetwear, European men’s style emphasizes quality craftsmanship, subtle luxury, and a nonchalant attitude that sets it apart on the global fashion stage.

5. What is the European style of English?

The European style of English encompasses a unique blend of linguistic influences, shaped by centuries of cultural exchange and linguistic diversity across the continent. While rooted in British English, European English has evolved to incorporate elements from various European languages, reflecting the rich tapestry of cultures within the region. This style is characterized by its clarity, precision, and elegance, with a preference for formal expressions and nuanced vocabulary. Moreover, European English often emphasizes grammatical correctness and adherence to standardized spelling and punctuation conventions, reflecting a commitment to linguistic excellence. Overall, the European style of English serves as a testament to the continent’s linguistic heritage and its ongoing contribution to the global linguistic landscape.

European Fashion

European fashion is renowned for its sophistication, innovation, and timeless elegance, setting trends that reverberate across the globe. From the haute couture houses of Paris to the avant-garde designers of Milan, European fashion embodies a diverse range of styles that cater to every taste and occasion. With a focus on quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, European fashion seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, offering a curated selection of clothing and accessories that exude luxury and refinement. Whether it’s the understated chic of Scandinavian minimalism or the opulent extravagance of Italian glamour, European fashion celebrates individuality while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sartorial excellence. Embracing both heritage and innovation, European fashion continues to captivate and inspire fashion enthusiasts worldwide, cementing its status as a global powerhouse in the industry.

6. What was Queen Elizabeth’s fashion?

Queen Elizabeth I’s fashion was iconic and influential, reflecting the grandeur and elegance of the Elizabethan era. Her style was characterized by elaborate gowns adorned with intricate embroidery, jewels, and lace collars, known as ruffs. She favored vibrant colors, such as rich reds, deep blues, and luxurious golds, to signify her royal status. Elizabeth’s fashion choices were not only a reflection of her personal taste but also a means of asserting her power and authority. Her extravagant ensembles set the standard for European fashion during her reign, inspiring trends that endured for generations.

7. How tall was Elizabeth 1st?

Elizabeth I, the iconic queen of England, stood at an impressive height for her time, towering above many of her contemporaries at approximately 5 feet 10 inches (178 cm). Her stature not only commanded attention but also influenced the fashion trends of her era. Elizabeth’s regal presence set the stage for European fashion, as her court became a hub of sartorial innovation and extravagance. Her preference for intricate gowns adorned with jewels and elaborate ruffs sparked a craze for opulent attire among the nobility. This period witnessed the emergence of sumptuous fabrics, intricate embroidery, and voluminous silhouettes, all reflecting the grandeur associated with the Elizabethan era. As a trendsetter and style icon, Elizabeth I left an indelible mark on European fashion, shaping the aesthetic sensibilities of her time and leaving a lasting legacy that continues to inspire designers and fashion enthusiasts to this day.

8. Why did Queen Elizabeth the first wear makeup?

Queen Elizabeth I’s use of makeup was not merely for vanity but also served strategic and symbolic purposes in the context of European fashion and politics of her time. During the Elizabethan era, pale skin was considered a mark of aristocracy and refinement, as it signified one’s distance from outdoor labor. The queen’s application of white lead-based makeup, which gave her skin a starkly pale complexion, was not only fashionable but also served as a visual representation of her royal status and purity. Additionally, her use of cosmetics, including vibrant lip colors and rouge, allowed her to project an image of youthfulness and vitality despite her advancing age. Moreover, the elaborate and theatrical makeup worn by Queen Elizabeth I reflected the grandeur and spectacle of the Elizabethan court, reinforcing her authority and power over her subjects and foreign dignitaries alike. Thus, her makeup choices were as much a political statement as they were a fashion statement, solidifying her iconic status in the annals of European history.


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