Was there a Viking fashion?
I did some research, and it turns out this is an easy one, “surely even the Vikings had some sort of fashion,” you must be thinking. And you are right. Men and women had their particular type of fashion; however, that type of fashion stayed quite the same and never really changed much. But that does not have to mean that Viking fashion is boring. To be honest, their fashion seemed to be surprisingly special.
Viking clothing often was not just for utility. They often represented a certain type of status. Some of the clothes even had the sole purpose of impressing the other sex… Since not many clothes have been found of that age, we often only know the material a body was wearing. Which is not enough, right? Well, most of the proof we have of how Viking fashion might have looked is art. But since we are constantly finding more art pieces from this period, we can assume that Vikings would wear fine and colorful clothes often made to impress. These clothing would have had patterns of which many have been lost, but the ones left behind in art hint us in a good direction.
Socks and underwear often were optional. There is no real proof of Vikings wearing underwear. However, Vikings wearing socks have been found. Socks were made out of wool and normally were not dyed. Socks are seen as an indicator for a Viking being of better status.
Shoes were often made of leather, on ankle height, which gave the wearer protection from the wet and cold Scandinavian ground. Some shoes that were found suggest that Vikings used tools to a certain amount to make their shoes. However, shoes like that are only found in the later period of the Viking age. It is hard to distinguish if they made those shoes by themselves or if they were traded.
Vikings wore caps often made of four triangular parts that were stitched together, some caps hat flaps on the side to protect the ears of the wearer. Caps were made of wool or leather and often had a filling of fur or pelt. But they would also use hood-like head coverings that would protect them from the worst weather.
Male Viking Clothes
Typically, the tunic would have been a long-armed shirt that only had a few or no buttons at all. This is often referred to as a kyrtill. They usually had a long cloak, covering their arm with which they would pull their sword. During winter, to withstand the Scandinavian winter, they would cover their back with a big pelt or a cloak fixed there with some sort of pin. These coats were mostly rectangular pieces of wool that would protect the Viking from rain, wind, and snow. Cloaks were not cheap at that time, so the cloaks’ length is accepted as an indicator of the wealth of a certain Viking. Since the material available at that time did not allow elastic fibers in your clothes, Viking men and women almost certainly wore a belt. However, we do not know much about their type of trousers that they have been wearing, but we can assume they were probably made out of the same material.
The Viking male would normally also carry a weapon ranging from an ax to round shields, lances, and of course swords to his clothes.
Female Viking Clothes
A typical Viking woman wore a strap dress with an undergarment, or often they would also use a smock underneath.
As I said before, even during that time, fashion was a thing. Under her lash dress, the lady wore underwear or coverall. Examinations show that Danish Viking ladies favored plain underpants, while Swedish Viking ladies wore creased ones. There was consequently even a component of design in underpants. Enough panty talk… The most common wear was cloaks or shawls, but sometimes we could also see a coat that builds an outer garment.
We have a better idea here of what Vikings would have been wearing as accessories. They often used “turtle” brooches; those brooches were frequently used to close their undershirts’ shifts. The brooches had different decoration types using glass, amber beads, and other jewelry to stick out. These brooches are found in many graves nowadays, so it’s hard to say if only wealthy Vikings were able to afford brooches like that, but what I can say is that they must have been beautiful.
So, to wrap things up.
Viking clothes were made of wool, leather, and animal skin, and they were often decorated with patterns of different colors. Usually, the more complicated the style of a Viking was, the more wealth he possessed. Brooches, socks, and cloaks are an indicator of wealth during that time.
So to answer my question: Yes, Vikings did have fashion. They loved clothes just like you and me, which isn’t surprising at all.
Disclaimer: I am not a historian or an archeologist. This information is collected privately. Please do your due diligence on the information provided.
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