What Did the Vikings Wear?: A Exploration Into the Roots of the Latest Viking Fashion Trend

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When we think of Vikings, the image often comes up of an unwashed man in grungy clothes and a horned helmet, but this image couldn’t be further from the truth. The horned helmet is actually a very modern idea created in the 19th century, about 8 centuries after the Viking Age.

This raises the obvious question of what did the Vikings wear? That’s being explored a little more these days since Viking-style clothing has come back into fashion. That being said, modern interpretations of older styles are never going to be entirely faithful, so we’ll talk about the fashion and reality behind it in this article.

1. Classes

Like most societies, Viking, or Norse, clothing depended to some extent on class. It is largely believed that there were three classes in Viking society: Thralls, Karls, and Jarls. The thralls were the lowest class, largely composed of slaves.

Karls were the middle class. They were farmers, herders. They owned their own land, but not enough to be considered wealthy.

The Jarls were the nobles. They owned large amounts of land and had enough money to live luxuriously. They often owned more jewelry and silver accessories.

2. The Role of the Weather

What did the Vikings wear? The answer is a lot of things. Scandinavia can get very cold, and back in the Viking Age, it was even colder.

The average temperature today is one degree higher on average that in the early 1900s. The early 1900s may have been even warmer than the Viking Age.

Simply put, the Viking world was a very cold place. This meant that wearing layers was essential. 

3. Men’s Clothing

Men’s clothing typically consisted of a a Viking tunic.  This was worn over an under-tunic.

These were often made from linen. Those who couldn’t afford linen used wool.

On  their lower bodies, men wore linen underwear, covered by linen trousers or leggings. Perhaps both were worn in some cases.

The Vikings also wore shoes made from goat leather. Goat leather is waterproof, which was useful during snowy, icy weather. It also came in handy since the Vikings were so fond of sailing.

4. Women’s Clothing

Viking women dressed similarly to modern women. They wore long underdresses of linen.

These dresses covered everything from the soldiers to the ankles, which is useful in colder climates. A shorter dress, often made of wool, was worn over that.

Men and women alike wore belts fashioned around the waist. They also had cloaks or robes that had hoods built into  them. Wool hats were another common part of the winter ensemble for both sexes. 

Vikings were also fairly hygienic, especially compared to their contemporaries. They bathed roughly once per week. That’s about as often as residents  of Victorian England bathed over 800 years later.

They also made brightly-colored clothes, combed and trimmed their hair and beards, and bleached them blonde. Blonde hair was a beauty standard among the Vikings.

What Did the Vikings Wear?

What did the Vikings wear? Tunics, pants, dresses, leather shoes, hats, and a lot of other things that many of us wear today. They made them out of different materials and in different ways, but they weren’t all that different after all.

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