Medieval clothing history traditionally begins with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476. The transition from classical to the medieval clothing was more gradual. The Byzantine Empire continued for another thousand years, with both sexes of the upper classes wearing the tunic as the basic garment. In the West, the invasions from the north brought trousers, fitted tunics, and hoods, but it was almost three centuries before any recorded Western style evolved from the interaction of Roman and northern European forms of dress.
Court ladies wore a long tunic put on over the head with a super tunic worn over it and hitched up by a girdle to show the tunic beneath. The super tunic was often bordered at the neck, sleeves, and hem. A cloak, fastened in front below the chin, was worn, usually full length, and a cloth veil concealed the hair. These garments essentially made up the basic wardrobe of the European aristocracy throughout the Middle Ages and survived with few changes in the lower classes into the Renaissance clothing ages.
Charlemagne did not wear the hood, the characteristic head wear of the people, which has origins far back in the Bronze Age and survives today mainly in ceremonial form and foul-weather gear. Fashion did not change much over the next three centuries.
Some influences from the East, mainly a diversity and richness of material, reached Europe with the Moorish invasion of Spain and south-western France and through the Norman conquest of Sicily, but changes in fashion were not frequent during the larger part of the Medieval clothing period. The great and startling effect on fashion occurred in the 12th century, after the start of the Crusades.
Crusaders, including women, brought back new materials and new styles. Luxurious Oriental fabrics such as silks, satins,