Period Pattern No 16
Tunics have been worn throughout Europe since earliest recorded history. Depending on the location and which century, the garment had many different names and variations but to keep this as brief as possible I will refer to them all as ‘Tunics’.
The practicality of this garment, combined with ease of construction and utilisation of precious fabric or furs, made it extremely popular by the 1st Century A.D. The basic rectangular shapes were used to create a garment that would range from hip to ankle length for men and ankle to floor length for women. Tunics were designed to be pulled on over the head and sleeves were mostly long, both loose and fitted although some had no sleeves at all. They can be worn loose or belted and men usually wore short Tunics over breeches.
Children were dressed in the same fashion as adults and there were, usually, only minor variances in the cut of those worn by the different classes of society.
Younger or less distinguished men wore shorter Tunics than older or higher ranked men, while women who performed manual labour might wear Tunics shorter than women more wealthy.
The main difference between garments within a particular culture was in the quality of the fabric and trimmings used in creating the garment.
Colours also played a role in class rank with the poor folk using black, rust, a variation of brown and certain blues while the wealthy could afford the expensive clothing dyes such as red and purple. The higher the quality of fur would also set class distinctions as did the trimmings.
Trimmings were anything from the simple use of another coloured fabric, cord, ribbon, to exquisite embroidery including metallic threads, jewels and pearls. Trimmings were usually limited to the neckline, hemline and sleeves and depended on wealth, taste and whichever fashion was prevailing of the particular period or culture.
The versatility of, combined with the endless variations that can be created from this Pattern makes the Tunic a definite ‘must have’ in any Medieval Wardrobe, Male, Female or Child.