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What clothes did medieval peasant women wear?

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Clothing, like every aspect of life, changed considerably during the very long medieval period.

In general terms, poor women wore a shift of natural unbleached linen - this was a full-length undergarment with long, tight sleeves reaching the ankles. It was the only underclothing worn by women.

Over this was a simple full-length dress of wool, belted around the waist. When doing washing, gardening, collecting firewood, mucking out the animals, milking and so on the dress might be hitched up each side and tucked under the belt, leaving the legs covered by the shift - linen was much easier to wash and dry than wool so it did not matter if the shift got dirty. Wool was generally coarse, hard-wearing and bought in drab colours: browns, greys, dull pale blues and russets.

An apron of linen might be worn to help keep the dress clean.

A linen cloth might be tied around the head or used as a veil; the hair was generally covered by most adult women.

Shoes were expensive and might be removed if working in bad conditions; they were of black or tan leather and were made inside-out, stitched together, then turned the right way (hence "turn shoes").

The popular image of women in skirts and frilly white blouses is nothing to do with reality.

The links below take you to images of peasant women in different times during the medieval era:
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