Explore the History & Styles of Norman Clothes

Explore the History & Styles of Norman Clothes

The Normans, a group of people with a rich and complex history, have left an indelible mark on the fashion world. Norman clothes, characterized by unique styles and designs, continue to captivate fashion enthusiasts today. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of Norman clothes, exploring their significance and cultural context.

Norman clothing, also known as Norman dress or Norman attire, refers to the garments and accessories worn by the Normans, a group of people who originated in Normandy, a region in northern France. The Normans were known for their skill as warriors and their ability to conquer and rule over new territories. As they expanded their territory, they also brought their unique style of clothing with them.

Norman clothes were heavily influenced by a variety of factors, including Viking and Anglo-Saxon styles. The resulting fusion of different fashion styles gave rise to the unique Norman fashion that we know today.

Join us as we take a closer look at the history and styles of Norman clothes, exploring the influences that shaped them, the clothing worn by different social classes, and the lasting legacy of Norman fashion in the modern world.

So, whether you’re a fashion enthusiast looking to learn more about Norman clothes or simply interested in discovering more about this fascinating group of people and their cultural history, read on!

The Normans: A Brief Overview

The Normans were a medieval ethnic group that emerged in the 10th century in Normandy, France. They were renowned for their military prowess and aggressive conquests, which extended their territory across Europe and the Mediterranean. The Normans were also known for their distinctive clothing style, which reflected their unique cultural identity.

Norman clothing was heavily influenced by a variety of cultural traditions, including Scandinavian, Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon styles. The Normans also developed their own distinctive fashion, which combined elements of other cultures with their own unique designs.

As the Normans extended their reach across Europe, their clothing style spread as well. Norman fashion became a symbol of power and prestige, and it was adopted by other cultures, particularly in England and Italy.

In the following sections, we will explore the history and styles of Norman clothing, as well as the cultural significance of this distinctive fashion.

Influences on Norman Clothing

Norman clothing styles were not developed in a vacuum; they were influenced by various societal and cultural factors. The Normans themselves had a unique fashion culture, but they also assimilated styles and designs from their predecessors and neighbors.

Viking Influence

The Vikings played a significant role in shaping Norman fashion. The Vikings were known for their love for elaborate decorations and embroidery, and the Normans inherited this love for adornments. Norman clothes, just like Viking apparel, were adorned with decorative elements such as braids, embroidery, and fur, thus shaping Norman fashion.

Anglo-Saxon Influence

Another significant influence on Norman clothing was the Anglo-Saxon style. The Normans adopted the Anglo-Saxon tunic and the use of wool in textile production, which was a cheaper and more accessible alternative to the linen used by the upper class. The Norman attire had greater similarities with the Anglo-Saxon dress, for example, in the form of the long, loose tunic, which was worn as an undergarment.

The influence of the Viking and Anglo-Saxon styles on Norman clothing created an interesting hybrid style. Norman clothes, therefore, were unique and distinct from the earlier fashion trends and styles.

Clothing for Different Social Classes

Like many historical societies, clothing in Norman culture was a symbol of social status and wealth. The Normans were divided into different social classes, each with their distinct clothing attire.

High Society Normans

The nobility and wealthy elites of Norman society were the highest class and often wore clothing adorned with luxurious materials, such as silk and fine linen. Men wore tunics with long sleeves, sometimes decorated with fur or embroidered designs. Women dressed in long, flowing gowns with tight-fitting waists and wide skirts. They often wore elaborate jewelry and headwear, such as veils and pointed headdresses, to accentuate their status.

The Middle Class

The middle-class Normans, who were typically craftsmen and merchants, would wear simpler clothing than the nobility. Men wore short tunics, while women dressed in long skirts with a sleeved tunic or a blouse, with a headscarf for modesty.

The Working Class

The lowest social class in Norman society wore the simplest and most practical clothing. Men and women wore tunics made of coarse, durable fabrics for their work and daily activities. They were typically undecorated and in dark, earthy colors.

Overall, Norman clothing, although divided by social class, was functional, practical, and adaptable to the wearer’s needs and surroundings.

Norman Fashion Accessories

While clothing was the main focus of Norman fashion, accessories played a crucial role in completing the overall style. Belts, brooches, and headwear were some of the most popular accessories that adorned Norman attire.

Belts: Belts were commonly worn by both men and women and were often made of leather or fabric. They were used to cinch in oversized clothing and create a more fitted silhouette. Belts were often embellished with studs or intricate designs to add extra flair to an outfit.

Brooches: Brooches were an essential accessory for both practical and decorative purposes. They were used to fasten clothing together and also added a touch of elegance to an outfit. Norman brooches were often made of precious metals and adorned with precious stones or intricate designs.


Headwear was another significant aspect of Norman fashion. Women often wore veils or headdresses, while men adorned their heads with hats or helmets. One of the most popular headwear options for men was the helmet, which was used for battle and also served as a symbol of status. Women’s headdresses varied depending on the occasion, with more elaborate and ornate styles worn for formal events.

Overall, Norman fashion accessories reflected the society’s wealth and status. They were used to enhance the clothing and communicate an individual’s position in society. Today, fashion designers continue to draw inspiration from Norman fashion accessories, incorporating similar styles and designs into their collections.

Regional Variations in Norman Clothing

The Normans conquered much of Europe, including England and Italy, and their clothing styles varied depending on the region. In Sicily, the Normans adopted Byzantine clothing styles, while in England, they integrated Anglo-Saxon and Viking influences into their fashion.

In the south of Italy, Norman clothing was heavily influenced by Arabic and Byzantine styles, reflecting the multicultural nature of the region. The wealthy elite donned luxurious, flowing robes made of silk and embellished with gold thread and jewels. Headwear was also a significant aspect of Norman clothing in this region. Women wore veils or headscarves, while men donned turbans or tall, cone-shaped hats.

In England, Norman’s dress was more practical and rugged, reflecting their warrior culture. The typical Norman outfit consisted of a tunic, trousers, and a cloak, often adorned with embroidered designs. Over time, Norman fashion in England became more sophisticated, and the upper classes adopted more elaborate attire, such as tunics with fitted sleeves and longer hemlines.

Regional Variations in Norman Dress: The Influence of Climate

The climate in different regions of Norman-ruled territories also impacted clothing styles. In colder climates, such as England and Scandinavia, Normans wore heavier materials, such as wool and fur, to keep warm. In the south of Italy, where the climate was warmer, Norman clothing was lightweight and made from breathable fabrics like linen.

The Normans also adapted their clothing for outdoor activities, such as hunting and horse riding. In England, they wore sturdy leather boots and thick cloaks to protect themselves from the elements, while in Sicily, they donned loose-fitting clothing to allow for ease of movement while riding on horseback.

Overall, Norman clothing was diverse and varied depending on the region, climate, and social status of the wearer. These regional differences allowed for a unique blend of styles that still influences fashion today.

Norman Clothes in Everyday Life

Norman clothing was not only fashionable but practical for everyday life, with different types of attire worn for various activities and routines.

For example, the clothing worn by working-class Normans would have been more durable and functional, suitable for laborious tasks such as farming or blacksmithing. Meanwhile, the clothing of the upper-class would have been more ornate, often made with expensive fabrics such as silk and embroidered with detailed designs.

Norman garments were also influenced by climate and weather conditions. During colder months, thicker woolen fabrics were worn, while lighter fabrics, such as linen, were worn during the warmer months. The Normans also used furs for warmth, with the most luxurious pelts reserved for the nobility.

Norman outfits were also highly dependent on the occasion. When attending formal events such as banquets and feasts, nobility would dress in their finest attire, with women typically wearing long dresses or robes. For battle, Normans would wear chainmail and helmets, with coats of arms and colors signifying their allegiance.

Overall, Norman’s clothes were a reflection of their practical nature and societal norms, with attire worn based on class, occasion, and weather.

Norman Fashion Influences and Legacy

The fashion of the Normans has left a lasting impression on fashion history, influencing styles and trends for centuries to come. The unique combination of Viking, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman styles shaped a distinctive look that continues to captivate designers and fashion enthusiasts alike.

The Influence of Norman Fashion

Norman fashion influenced fashion trends across Europe, with a particular impact seen in England. The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 meant that Norman fashion became the fashion of the elite, and this influence continued throughout the Middle Ages. Normans introduced new styles and designs, such as the bliaut, which became popular throughout medieval Europe. Norman fashion also influenced the development of Gothic architecture and the use of decorative elements, such as arches and ribbed vaults.

The Legacy of Norman Clothes

The legacy of Norman clothes can still be seen in modern fashion, with designers drawing inspiration from the unique styles and designs of the Normans. The use of chain mail, for example, is still popular in fantasy and historical costumes. The mantles worn by Norman nobility also continue to influence fashion, with contemporary interpretations of the garment being seen on runways around the world.

The Norman influence on fashion has also extended to art and literature. The Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman Conquest of England, is famous for its depictions of Norman fashion. The tapestry has inspired countless artists and designers and has become an important cultural artifact.

Modern Adaptations of Norman Clothing

The style and fashion of the Normans may have originated in the Middle Ages, but their influence can still be seen in contemporary fashion and costume designs. Modern adaptations of Norman clothing are often characterized by their vintage appeal and unique style.

The Norman Style in Modern Clothing

The Norman style has made a comeback in recent years, particularly in the form of vintage-inspired dresses, blouses, and skirts. The use of rich fabrics, intricate embroidery, and historical silhouettes evoke the elegance and sophistication of Norman attire.

Designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood have also drawn inspiration from Norman fashion, incorporating elements such as leather into their designs. The result is a modern interpretation of the Norman look that seamlessly blends historical influences with contemporary sensibilities.

Norman Apparel in Film and Television

The popularity of historical dramas and period films has led to an increased demand for Norman-inspired costumes in the entertainment industry. From epic blockbusters like Braveheart and The Last Kingdom to television series like Game of Thrones, the influence of Norman clothing can be seen in a range of productions.

Costume designers often use authentic historical references to create realistic costumes that accurately reflect the fashion of the time. This attention to detail has led to a renewed appreciation for the art and craftsmanship of Norman clothing.

The Future of Norman Fashion

As fashion continues to evolve, it is likely that the influence of Norman clothing will continue to be felt in new and exciting ways. From haute couture to streetwear, the unique style of the Normans has proven to be a timeless source of inspiration for designers, artists, and fashion enthusiasts around the world.

Whether you’re drawn to the vintage appeal of Norman dresses and blouses or the edgier look of modern adaptations, there’s no denying the lasting impact of Norman fashion on the world of style and design.

Cultural Significance of Norman Clothes

Norman clothes played a significant role in representing the cultural values and identity of the Norman people. The attire worn by Norman men and women not only distinguished them from other cultures but also served as a symbol of their status and societal roles. Clothing was used to convey messages about occupation, gender, and social status, making it an essential aspect of daily life.

Norman’s attire also reflected the cultural norms and values of the time. Modesty was highly valued, and clothing was designed to cover the body adequately. This reflected the Norman’s Christian beliefs and the importance they placed on modesty and chastity.

Additionally, the materials used in Norman clothing were representative of their region. The Normans were known for their production of high-quality wool, which was used to create a variety of garments, such as cloaks and tunics. Other materials, such as linen and silk, were imported from other regions and were reserved for those of higher social status.

Furthermore, the designs and embellishments on Norman clothing were heavily influenced by cultural exchange. The Norman conquest of England brought about a fusion of styles, with Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon designs merging with Norman styles to create a unique fashion. Additionally, the Crusades brought about an influx of Eastern influences, particularly in the form of intricate embroidery and patterned fabrics.

Overall, Norman clothes served as a representation of the cultural identity of the Norman people. From the materials and designs to the way they were worn, clothing served as an essential aspect of Norman’s daily life, reflecting societal roles and values. The lasting legacy of Norman clothing can still be seen in contemporary fashion and costume design, proving the lasting impact of its cultural significance.


From the Viking and Anglo-Saxon influences to regional variations and social class distinctions, the history and styles of Norman clothes are fascinating and complex. Understanding the significance of these garments can provide insights into the identity and cultural values of the Normans.

Moreover, the influence of Norman fashion can be seen in contemporary adaptations, from runway shows to costume design. This speaks to the lasting legacy of Norman clothes in the fashion world.

Overall, exploring Norman clothes is not only interesting from a historical and cultural perspective but also provides a window into the evolution of fashion throughout the centuries.