Essay on Clothing of the Franks

Submitted By matthewphillips92
Words: 1725
Pages: 7

When looking into clothing through the lens of history it is important to distinguish the trends of a brief period with over arching defining characteristics of a people. When one looks at the people of Britain we would not say that just because in the Elizabethan period a firmly structured wide collar was popular that it defined the dress of Britain forever. That trend was only a blip on the clothing development of a countries timeline. The byproduct of influences acting upon the dress of a people. To dedifferentiate the defining characteristics of a people and the momentary shifts one needs to understand the difference between fashion and style

Style is the way of dress that is indicative of a culture group or geographic location. For example the headdress of ancient Egypt would be the style of dress for Egyptian pharos and priests. The style of a people shifts some but is a gradual change, unless of course a huge upheaval I modernization comes along and revolutionizes the garment industry. The styles of cultures tend even in their different stages to bear some commonality of shape, material, or means of construction.

Fashion on the other hand is fast changing and always on the move. Fashion shifts constantly jumping to extremes either with the realm of style or against it but always in context of it. Taking our example of Egyptian head dress we can extrapolate on fashion. If the headdress represents an Egyptian style then the shift from the cone like pieces of the early pharos is one style then comes along Nefertiti with the flat top model, possibly to conceal her very long head, and the fashion shifts. Fashion is a form of expression within the context of style while style, on the culture level, is a sort of unconscious branding.

In early history the separation of style and fashion was miniscule because clothing was handmade, expensive, and needed to be functional. If one was outside in the forests of modern day France and flowing dress would hinder ones ability to survive, this is evident in the barbarians.

The term Barbarian brings to mind many negative connotations in our western vernacular. We (the western world) have ascribed such designations such as uncivilized, or backwards. These assumptions however are not attributed to the original people they represented. The original term barbarian simply meant a non-Greek or roman living within or on the periphery of the roman empire. tribes from the near east, most likely modern day Germany, and parts of Russia started to migrate into the roman empire as early as 300 BC (tortora). These tribes were pushed out of there homelands by invading Huns. Many of the Germanic tribes would die off through war or be absorbed by the Romans or other tribes. One tribe that did not die off was the franks. Founded by the Chief and later king Clovis the franks conquered most of modern day France. Clovis married a Christian bride and converted to Christianity himself, as a sign of his conversion he adopted a Byzantine-style of dress for his court(tortora). His clothes would have included a knee length tunic decorated with embroidery or woven decoration.(fig 1) The lavish jewel decoration common in the high ranks of Byzantium were unavailable to these people. As a status symbol the king of the franks would have his hair long while those of lower rank would keep there hair short. The dress of the common frank of this period would not be dissimilar to that of the king. Men wore loose T-shaped tunics sometimes decorated with broad bands of various colors. Some tunics were of horizontally stripped material. Other sources mention fitted tunics among the Franks(tortora). The gonelle was a knee-length tunic with long or short sleeves. It was generally edged with braid and belted at the waist. In the 7th and 8th centuries it is often shown with wide folds. In the 10th century it is shown with a thick roll at the neck . The camisia or under tunic comes from classical times as…