Heraldic Clothing, the Tabard

Heraldic Tabard
Originally the Tabard was a loose fitting item of clothing popular with laborers and casual workers, similar to a modern day smock.  The nobility commandeered the Tabard and  made it their own by customizing it with the coat of arms embroidered on the front and back as well as on the sleeves. The Tabard extended to a little below the waist and had rounded or square sleeves which reached almost to the elbows. This basic Tabard design has been in use for the last 700 years and can be found worn by Heralds at official events to this day.

Herald’s wore the royal coat of arms on their Tabard and this enabled them to be recognized from a distance and allowed to pass without incident when carrying messages back and forth in times of conflict.  The custom of bearing the armorial bearings on a Tabard led to the word “ Coat of Arms “ being used for the first time, another part of heraldry that exists to this day.
Tabard from the Court of Phillip II

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