13th Century Peasant Clothing: A Historical Look

13th Century Peasant Clothing: A Historical Look

Welcome to our exploration of 13th-century peasant clothing, where we delve into the captivating world of medieval peasant attire. Step back in time with us as we uncover the significance and intricacies of the garments worn by these resilient individuals.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the social hierarchy of medieval peasants and how their clothing reflected their place in society. We will also examine the fabrics and colors commonly used in their attire and the various outerwear options and layering techniques employed to combat the elements. Join us on this captivating journey through time as we unravel the secrets of 13th-century peasant clothing, offering an enriching glimpse into medieval life and culture.

The Social Hierarchy of Medieval Peasants

Medieval peasant attire offers valuable insights into the social structure of the time, highlighting the distinct differences between the attire of lower-class and higher-class peasants. The clothing worn by peasants served practical purposes and signified their social status and place in society.

In the medieval era, the social hierarchy was clearly reflected in the garments worn by peasants. Lower-class peasants primarily wore simple and utilitarian clothing made from coarse fabrics such as wool or linen. These garments were designed for durability and functionality, allowing them to withstand the rigors of labor-intensive work in the fields.

Authentic peasant dress for lower-class peasants typically consisted of loose-fitting tunics, often sleeveless or with short sleeves. These tunics were paired with practical, sturdy lower-body garments such as breeches or hose. The focus was on functionality rather than fashion, as peasants needed garments that allowed for easy movement and provided protection from the elements.

On the other hand, higher-class peasants, who possessed more wealth and social standing within the peasant community, had access to a wider range of clothing options. Their attire featured greater craftsmanship, finer fabrics, and additional embellishments.

The upper-class peasants’ authentic peasant dress often included more elaborate and tailored tunics and surcoats adorned with decorative trimmings and embroideries. Additionally, the higher-class peasants could afford to wear garments in more vibrant colors, indicating their status within the community.

The Attire of Higher-Class Peasants

  • Tunics and surcoats adorned with decorative trimmings and embroideries
  • Garments made from finer fabrics, such as silk or velvet
  • Richer and more vibrant colors indicate social status
  • Possible inclusion of accessories like belts, brooches, or pouches

Understanding the distinctions in medieval peasant attire allows us to better comprehend the social dynamics and hierarchies present during this time. It illustrates how clothing was a practical necessity and a visual representation of one’s position in society.

In the next section, we will delve into the specific fabrics and colors commonly used in 13th century peasant clothing, further illuminating the intricacies of their everyday wardrobe.

Fabrics and Colors of Peasant Clothing

One of the defining characteristics of 13th-century peasant clothing was its use of rustic fabrics and traditional colors. Peasants primarily relied on natural materials such as wool, linen, and hemp for their garments. These fabrics were durable and accessible, making them ideal for the harsh conditions of medieval life.

Wool, obtained from sheep, was the most commonly used fabric in peasant clothing. It provided warmth during colder seasons and was spun and woven into various weights and textures. Linen was another popular choice made from flax plants for its lightness and breathability. Hemp, derived from the cannabis plant, was a sturdy alternative and often used for lower-class peasants due to its affordability.

The colors of peasant clothing were also influenced by nature and the availability of dyes. Plant-based dyes, extracted from roots, leaves, and flowers, produced earthy hues that reflected the rustic lifestyle of peasants. Colors like earthy browns, muted greens, deep reds, and natural off-whites were commonly seen in their attire.

Fabrics commonly used in peasant clothing:

  • Wool
  • Linen
  • Hemp

Colors commonly used in peasant clothing:

  • Earthy browns
  • Muted greens
  • Deep reds
  • Natural off-whites

By understanding the fabrics and colors used in 13th-century peasant clothing, we gain insight into the simplicity and practicality of their attire. These clothing choices not only served a functional purpose but also reflected the close connection peasants had with their natural surroundings.

Outerwear and Layering Techniques

When it comes to historical peasant garments, outerwear played a crucial role in the attire of 13th-century peasants. Even though the focus was on functional clothing for their everyday lives, peasants also needed to stay warm during colder seasons. This section explores the outerwear options available to them and the layering techniques they used.


Cloaks were a common outerwear choice for peasants in the 13th century. Made from durable fabrics like wool, these garments provided protection from the elements. Peasants often wore simple and unadorned cloaks, which could be fastened at the front with a brooch or a pin.


Similar to cloaks, capes were another popular outerwear option. Peasants would wear capes over their shoulders, providing additional warmth and protection. Capes could be shorter in length compared to cloaks, making them more practical for everyday tasks.


Peasants also utilized hoods as part of their outerwear ensemble. Hoods were typically attached to cloaks or capes, providing warmth and shelter for the head and neck. These hoods were often made from the same fabric as the outerwear garment, creating a coordinated look.

Layering techniques were essential for peasants to combat the cold weather. By layering different garments, they could trap heat and stay insulated. They would often wear a combination of tunics, shirts, and undergarments, with the addition of outerwear like cloaks, capes, and hoods.

By understanding the outerwear choices and layering techniques of 13th-century peasants, we gain insight into their practical clothing approach and ability to adapt to varying weather conditions.

Headwear and Hairstyles

Peasant attire in the 13th century included garments and various types of headwear that played a crucial role in completing the authentic peasant dress. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of peasant headwear and hairstyles that added charm and practicality to their overall appearance.

Types of Headwear

The medieval peasants wore a range of head coverings that shielded them from the elements and reflected their social status. Two common examples were coifs and wimples.

  • Coifs: Coifs were close-fitting caps made of linen or wool. They were worn by both men and women and offered protection for the head and neck.
  • Wimples: Wimples were fabric pieces that covered the neck and chin and were typically worn by women. They were secured under the chin with a pin or tied in a knot at the top of the head.

In addition to coifs and wimples, other headwear options for peasants included simple linen or woolen hoods and caps.


The hairstyles of 13th-century peasants were influenced by practicality and societal norms. Women often wore their hair covered by head coverings, making their hairstyles less visible. Men, on the other hand, tended to have shorter hair.

It was common for men and women with exposed hair to see simple hairstyles such as braids or loose waves. Access to elaborate hairstyling tools and techniques was limited, so most peasants opted for functional and easy-to-manage hairstyles.

Understanding the headwear and hairstyles of medieval peasants provides valuable insights into their daily lives and the importance they placed on functional and practical clothing choices.

Upper Body Clothing

In 13th-century medieval society, peasant attire played a significant role in defining their social status and identity. The upper body clothing of the peasants consisted of various styles, each with its own distinct characteristics. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of 13th-century peasant fashion and explore the tunics and surcoats that were commonly worn.

Tunics: A staple garment in medieval peasant attire, tunics were simple, loose-fitting garments that extended from the shoulders to varying lengths, depending on the individual’s social standing. Lower-class peasants typically wore shorter tunics that fell above the knee, while higher-class peasants had longer tunics that reached below the knee. These garments were usually made from durable, natural fabrics like linen or wool, providing comfort and protection during hard work in the fields.

Surcoats: For special occasions and colder weather, peasants would layer their tunics with surcoats, long garments worn over the tunic. Surcoats were often made of high-quality fabrics and featured more elaborate designs and embellishments. They were a symbol of higher social status and were primarily donned by wealthier peasants. These garments not only provided additional warmth but also added a touch of elegance to the peasant’s overall appearance.

Peasant clothing was also adorned with various accessories, such as belts, brooches, and buttons, which served both practical and decorative purposes. Belts were used to cinch the tunics at the waist, enhancing the peasant’s silhouette and allowing for ease of movement. Brooches and buttons were used as fasteners to hold the garments in place and add a touch of personality to their attire.

In summary, the upper body clothing of 13th-century peasants consisted of tunics and surcoats, each representing different social standings within medieval society. These garments were functional and allowed peasants to express their individuality through various styles and embellishments. The attention to detail and craftsmanship in the construction of these garments showcase the rich history and cultural significance of authentic peasant dress.

Lower Body Clothing

When it comes to lower-body clothing, medieval peasants had a variety of options that provided both functionality and style. Let’s explore some of the garments that formed a crucial part of their authentic peasant dress.


Breeches were a common choice for peasant men. These loose-fitting trousers reached just below the knee and were often made of durable linen or wool fabric. Breeches provided ease of movement and were secured with a drawstring or simple fastenings.


The hose was another essential lower body garment for both men and women. These close-fitting stockings were typically made of wool and could be worn on their own or under other clothing. Peasant women often paired their hose with a longer tunic or skirt.

Functional Aspects and Construction:

Peasant lower body clothing was designed with practicality in mind. These garments were made to withstand laborious tasks and daily wear and tear. Stitching techniques such as running stitch and whip stitch were commonly used to construct the garments. Additionally, the choice of durable fabrics and the absence of unnecessary embellishments ensured the longevity of these functional clothes.

Lower body clothing played a crucial role in completing the overall peasant attire, providing comfort, mobility, and durability for individuals working in various fields. By understanding the nuances of these garments, we gain a deeper appreciation for the authenticity and historical significance of peasant dress in the medieval era.

Footwear and Accessories

In the 13th century, peasants had a humble yet functional approach to their footwear and accessories. Let’s take a closer look at the types of footwear and accessories that completed their rustic medieval clothing.


When it came to footwear, simplicity was key for the hardworking peasants. They predominantly wore two types of shoes – simple leather shoes and wooden clogs. Leather shoes, typically made from cowhide or sheepskin, provided durability and protection for their feet during laborious tasks. On the other hand, wooden clogs with leather straps were commonly used for working in muddy or wet conditions, providing stability and elevating the wearer from the damp ground.


While peasants focused primarily on practicality, they still incorporated a few accessories into their traditional peasant clothing. Belts were a popular accessory for holding up their trousers and carrying tools, pouches, and personal items. These belts were often made of sturdy leather and were embellished with simple metal buckles.

Pouches, known as scrips, were essential accessories for peasants. They were typically made of leather or fabric, and peasants would use them to carry small items like food, coins, and other daily necessities. Scrips were worn either attached to the belt or slung across the shoulder.

Other accessories like simple jewelry, such as rings or bracelets, were occasionally worn by peasants, though sparingly due to their limited means.

In conclusion, the footwear and accessories of 13th-century peasants were characterized by simplicity, practicality, and functionality. Their rustic medieval clothing was completed with modest leather shoes, wooden clogs, and practical accessories like belts and pouches.

Everyday Peasant Clothing vs. Special Occasion Attire

Peasant clothing in the 13th century varied depending on the occasion. While everyday attire was practical and designed for daily tasks, special occasion attire allowed peasants to showcase their social status and participate in festive events.

Everyday Peasant Clothing

Everyday peasant clothing was characterized by simplicity and functionality. Peasants, who predominantly engaged in agricultural work, needed garments that provided comfort and ease of movement. These garments were typically made from durable fabrics such as wool or linen, allowing peasants to withstand the rigors of their daily activities.

  • Tunics: The tunic was a staple garment for peasants. It was typically knee-length, loose-fitting, and made from sturdy fabrics. Peasants often layered their tunics for additional warmth during colder seasons.
  • Breeches and Hose: Peasants commonly wore breeches, a form of loose-fitting trousers that reached just below the knee. Hose, on the other hand, were long stockings that covered the legs from the knee to the ankle. Together, these garments provided practicality and protection against the elements.
  • Simple Footwear: Peasants opted for simple leather shoes or wooden clogs as everyday footwear. These shoes offered durability and comfort while navigating uneven terrain.

Special Occasion Attire

For special occasions such as weddings or religious festivities, peasants would don their finest attire, reflecting their aspiration for upward mobility and desire to be recognized within their community.

  • Finer Fabrics: Special occasion attire often featured finer fabrics, such as silk or velvet, reserved for more prosperous peasants. These luxurious materials added a touch of elegance to their outfits.
  • Rich Colors and Embellishments: Peasants would choose vibrant colors such as deep blues, reds, and greens to adorn their special occasion attire. Embellishments like embroidery or decorative trims would further enhance the overall aesthetic.
  • Distinctive Headwear: To elevate their appearance, peasants would wear more elaborate headwear, such as adorned caps or jeweled headdresses. These accessories served as symbols of wealth and status.

By comparing everyday peasant clothing with special occasion attire, we gain insight into the diverse aspects of medieval peasants’ lives. Understanding the differences in materials, colors, and embellishments provides valuable knowledge about the social dynamics within peasant communities and their aspirations for higher social standing.


In conclusion, exploring 13th-century peasant clothing provides valuable insights into the fascinating world of medieval life. The clothing worn by peasants during this time period not only reflected their social status but also showcased the craftsmanship, materials, and colors that defined their identity.

By delving into the fabrics, colors, and styles of peasant attire, we get a glimpse into the daily lives of these hardworking individuals. The rustic and traditional clothing choices, made from natural materials and dyed with plant-based colors, showcased the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the era.

Understanding the different garments worn by peasants, such as outerwear, headwear, upper-body clothing, lower-body clothing, and footwear, gives us a comprehensive view of their daily outfitting. Layering techniques and functional accessories added practicality and style to their attire.

To truly appreciate the rich history and culture of the 13th century, exploring peasant clothing is essential. So, delve into the realm of authentic peasant dress and immerse yourself in the vivid world of medieval life. The story of 13th-century peasant clothing is an important chapter in our history, waiting to be discovered and appreciated.