Medieval Italy: The Fashion That Trended In The 14th And 15th Century

During the 14th and 15th centuries, Italian fashion closely resembled that of England, Germany and France. However, Italian fashion was more distinct because of its lavish nature and use of expensive materials. This is not to say that everyone in Italy could afford this type of lavish wear.

In places like Florence, only the businessmen and richly endowed members of the public could be able to dress in this manner.

There even reached a time when numerous laws were enacted in order to restrict the adornment of lavish wear (see interesting facts about Italy); however, just like in other countries around the world, these laws remained unsuccessful. Let me take you through the various fashion trends that highlighted the 14th and 15th centuries. 

Men’s Fashion

“These dresses were either close-fitting from the shoulders down or widened from the shoulders all the way down.”  

Men in Italy wore short over dresses from the 14th and into the 15th centuries. These dresses were either close-fitting from the shoulders down or widened from the shoulders all the way down. These dresses were mainly made from fur trimming. Italians are generally a creative lot and these dresses proved this because they varied from person to person in shape and finish. 

One of the pieces of fashion that trended for men was the sleeves. There was no prescribed style, hence people were free to experiment with whatever pleased them. On the other end, the high neck also got considerable attention during the period. However, low necks also were common among the locals with most of them being cut in a deep V-shape both at the front and at the back. 

Their coats were also long with a short dress sewn at the bottom edges. The trend started with close fitting clothes during the 14th century but by the 15th century they were already out of fashion. Men started to prefer widened coats.  

During the second half of the 15th century, men started to prefer long wide over coats.

These came in different shapes and varieties with some reaching the feet and others just half way down the ankle. The coats were never tight and they were at times worn with a girdle. Just in case one wore a girdle, they made sure that it was richly ornamented. 

“The dresses were made in such a way that they started to widen from the bust downwards.”

Women’s Fashion

Women’s dresses went through many alterations throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. The dresses were made in such a way that they started to widen from the bust downwards. The highness or lowness of the neck was a matter of preference. Old women usually preferred to wear high necks whereas young women preferred low necks with V shapes at the front.  

The sleeves on the other hand were either close fitting or moderately wide. At times they could be attached to the arms by using small buttons sewn short distances apart from each other. Some dresses had short sleeves reaching to the elbow with others having no sleeves at all. 

Women hardly used girdles but when they did, it was used in order to ensure that they could tuck up the dress upwards if the dress happened to be too long.

The 15th century also saw the use of patterned silk and velvets for making dresses. They were at times interwoven with silver or gold in order to make the dresses look more lavish.

However, these materials proved to be quite heavy and usually interfered with movement. This prompted the cut of the dress to be altered so that the material’s stiffness could not interfere with movement. 


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