There are not many archaeological and historical traces left, and those remaining can lead to different views on the topic. However, some facts are certain – Vikings wore their clothes according to sex, age, and social status. The clothes were made of local fabrics, such as wool and flax, woven by the women.

Members of the higher social ranks also wore more exotic textiles, like silk, that would sometimes be decorated with extra threads of gold, showing luxury and a sort of glamour to the garment. 

Such textiles were imported from the eastern countries. In combination with elaborated pieces of jewelry and fur from different animals, they would communicate a higher social ranking of a person who wore them.

Keeping it simple

When it comes to the everyday clothing of an average Viking, men would usually wear tunics and trousers, and women would wear dresses with straps, with an undergarment underneath. These were the basic pieces, which would then be completed with additional ones.

Women wore the so-called strap dress, which was fitted over the chest and held by straps over the shoulders, and the undergarment was worn under it. The strap dress was sometimes decorated with beads, and the undergarment sometimes had some decorations. They wore belts around their waist, and the belts contained small purses containing different small things needed in everyday life – needles, thread, and lighters (a curved piece of iron to produce sparks).

Men wore tunics and trousers, and usually a cloak. Tunics were knee-length shirts with long sleeves, while the trousers were usually worn in combination with leg warmers. Leg warmers were pieces of linen or made of wool, wrapped around the calves to keep legs warm. Viking men wore belts around the waist, and just like their women, they wore little purses on the belt, where they kept different things, such as combs, nail cleaners, lighters, and coins. The cloak was fastened with a brooch, both a decoration and a functional object, and was worn over the tunic and trousers.

Both women and men wore simple but very durable leather shoes. Speaking of durability, harsh winters in areas inhabited by Vikings demanded warm mittens and socks made of wool, produced by a special technique that made those pieces almost indestructible.

Women often wore the so-called strap dress, which was fitted over the chest and held by straps over the shoulders. Illustration: Liliya Grek / Unsplash

Modern-day Viking clothing

With the modern revival of the Viking culture and increased interest in Viking culture and history, one of the most obvious ways to express interest is through clothing and accessories. 

In everyday life, this doesn't necessarily mean returning to tunics, cloaks, and strap dresses, but more of a reinterpretation of that type of clothing, with added details. For men, this usually includes T-shirts or hooded shirts with different prints echoing traditional symbols, such as runes or other symbols from the old Viking times. 

Women often choose simple dresses, but with elaborate decorations made of leather, beads, and fur, embroideries resembling those that Viking women used to wear on their undergarment, which was specific for the Viking women of the area of Sweden, back in the old days.

Another important aspect of such an image is silver jewelry, both for men and women, including statement rings, necklaces and armbands, beads, and different decorations for hairstyling. Tattoos are another key part, usually depicting runes. However, one should be careful when picking a specific tattoo in order to avoid showing disrespect to this old culture and its rich heritage.

Women usually have long hair with different types of braids, making an elaborate yet very functional hairstyle, and men grow a beard and sometimes style it in a traditional way, i.e., braiding it. Those men who choose to wear long hair sometimes use braids to style it, and sometimes wear a combination of a modern haircut with a side cut and braids.

Viking cosplay

Modern-day Vikings, enjoying the so-called cosplay, try to revive the old Viking ways of clothing as accurately as possible, including weapons and shields, but also the clothing styled with lots of details such as hooded cloaks with detailed brooches.
 
Both women and men also wear fur, usually silver jewelry, and leather belts with those small purses the old Vikings used to wear. The outfit also includes leather shoes made to look like in the old days and sometimes helmets or leather caps, plus the inevitable shields and swords to create a complete image and the atmosphere of the "glory days."

We get to provide readers with original coverage thanks to our loyal supporters. Do you enjoy our work? You can become a PATRON here or via our Patreon page. You'll get access to exclusive content and early access.

Do you have a tip that you would like to share with The Viking Herald?
Feel free to reach out to discuss potential stories that may be in the public interest. You can reach us via email at hello@thevikingherald.com with the understanding that the information you provide might be used in our reporting and stories.