In mediaeval times diverse clothes could be found according to the dominator of the area. Franks were the most significant empire at that time. They wore trousers and a cloak-like coat. Anglo-Saxons mostly wore tunics. Social differences could only be recognised in the materials. The rich used silk or wool, the poor’s clothes were made of rough canvas. There was no remarkable difference between the wear of the two sexes. They tried to hide the individual and sexual distinctions. The Crusades had their effect on clothing as well. Jewellery and new fabrics from the East came to the fashion of upper social layers. Poor wore hooded robes.
The first tailories appeared in the XII.-XIII. century. The age of romance simplified the fashion, clothes became longer and rankly plaited. Popular fabrics were canvas, cotton, silk and baize. Colourful materials were decorated with embroidery. In men’s wear pants and legs appeared but tunics remained the same. Women’s wear consisted of a shirt, a garment in all one with a sleeveless overwear. Clothes were decorated with court-trains, plaits or jewellery. Their belts were made from expensive fabrics.
In the XIV. century real fashion appeared when the wear of the sexes became unjoined. Radical reforms took place. With the advance of arts individuality appeared in painting and in clothing as well. In late mediaeval times fashion was not only important because of society but also became a symbol of self-respect. If someone forgot about her social situation, people thought that she has forgotten ethics as well. Even so there were philosophers like Christine de Pizan who thought that the excessive love of fashion doesn’t make any sense as extreme innovations will decay anyway.
In the XV. century fashion was dictated by the Burgundian court. Clothes were sewn together which covered the lower body. Black appeared in these times ,which was very different from the other colours. Italian fashion showed the signs of early renaissance. Women’s overwear were simply-tailored and sleeveless. Baggy plait and the court-train gave the augustness of the customes. The décolléte was not so deep, but the lower neck was left free. Men’s fashion showed bigger boldness and libertinage. They were tights and short coats which set off the waist. The most popular were the two-coloured tights. Richness had its signs in materials, they used velvet or brocade padded with silk or fur.
In the European fashion of the XVI. century, the décolléte became deeper which was stressed by a collar-like edge. The contour of the costumes became softer, the line of the waist got lower. The upper body was shaped ideal by a corset. Slashed sleeves and trousers came into fashion. Slashes were eked out with silk of another colour. In men’s fashion new reforms took place again. Breeches and stockings replaced tights. Sleeves were sewn separately, so they became variable. The collar was standing and liny of which mill-wheel collars developed.
Women’s fashion went through several changes, skirts didn’t sweep the ground and the court-train have gone out of fashion too. They also wear shirts which ended in a gathered neck. First fans appeared. Furs around the neck also got into fashion which had a function of collecting the fleas from the hair. Black was popular in Spanish fashion. Men wore short, baggy trousers. The Spanish direction were spread all over Europe. In some areas only the direction of shapes and stiffening were taken. In England, Elizabeth I made it so radical that clothes often balked moving. In other areas instead of black, patterned fabric were still popular.
In the XVII. century France become the leading power in Europe. Spanish effects strongly influenced the fashion. They wore the Spanish kappe as an overwear which was a short travelling dress. Women’s upper wear became narrow and tight and didn’t indicate the breast the least. Men’s clothes were high-closed, they wore pointed collars and its size became bigger as well. Trousers became baggier, loosely embraced the leg and got longer too. Rhingrave came to fashion which were a skirt-like trousers and meant the top of baroque fashion. It was worn with a tight waistcoat opened at the front and an ample, long shirt. Other accessories to this dress were high-heeled shoes and a colourful tights decorated with ribbons. Moderately ample skirts replaced crinolines. They wore a high-buttoned coat with baggy sleeves which was extended with wings below the waist. The décolléte became deeper and square-shaped.
The fashion of the era of Louis XIV can be identified with the French fashion. Men’s fashion went through another simplification. Enchasements and ribbons went out of fashion. The most characteristic feature of the wardrobe was the regimental. In spite of the pure fashion of men, women’s wear became more confused and of course expensive. Popular wear of the era was the manteau which was a coatdress. Overwears were plaited and awry, made of hard fabrics, ended in a court-train. These were also richly decorated and at the front tacked in a V-shape. Sleeves were tailored at the elbow and richly laced. Later the facings became smaller.
In after years women’s fashion had lots innovations. Although corset remained, ample, comfortable dresses came to fashion which were similar to the dress of pregnant women. Customes rarely consisted of an overwear and a closed skirt, ladies liked opened shapes. Corsets were no longer used for hiding the breast but stressing it. They also liked small aprons made of the most expensive materials. Décollétes became larger. The bulk of skirts got larger and crinolines returned. These dresses were completely useless for working, so average people wore different clothes but these were also similar to aristocratic fashion. By the end of the 1780s women’s fashion became a bit manlike, but lively colours and various materials remained. Men’s fashion became comfortable, however trousers remained tight and narrow. Coats were only long at the back, so it let the deeply cut justeaucorps be seen.
In France the first fashion-magazines were published which gave an exact description of current fashion. Trendy clothes could be only bought by the rich, so they had their clothes sewn, while the poor made them alone. The designers of the era were such artists, who were proud of their creations. At that time fashion meant the culture and the sophisticated taste.
In the XIX. century English fashion replaced the French. Embroidery, expensive fabrics and flounces disappeared, their place was taken by simple lines, plain materials and colours. It was the fashion of rural English aristocracy. Instead of breeches, long trousers, boots, woolen jerkins and short waistcoats go into fashion. Women’s wear after the revolution was a bit similar to the antique style. White became the symbol of innocence and virginity, that’s why it became popular. At the turn of the century colours came to fashion again like azure and pink. „Genteel fashion” in men’s wear meant pure shapes and colours, they wore tight pantaloons and short waistcoats with standing collar. The dandy aimed elegancy, what he wanted to achieve with simpliness. Women’s dresses became a bit stiffer again. They started to decorate the lower parts of the skirts with flounces. Overwears were typically heart-shaped. They returned to corset to make their waists thinner. What also returned to fashion, was the huge collars and the baggy sleeves. Skirts became longer and more ample. Among women fragility was chic, so they wore so tight corsets that they could hardly breath in them. They wore lots of petticoats what made them look like a sandglass.