We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Livery?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The term “livery” is used in a wide variety of ways, betraying its complex history. Today, the term may be found used in reference to uniforms, official insignia meant to identify something as the belonging of a person or corporation, and in the sense of a company which offers various methods of transportation for hire.

Livery is derived from the French word livree, which means “delivered.” It originally took the form of a gift from the master of a house or manor to servants and followers, and such gifts could take a variety of forms, including land, clothing, food, ornaments, and other goods. Often, servants stored these gifts in a “livery cupboard.”

Over time, many lords began to outfit their higher ranking servants in livery, for a variety of reasons. The ability to afford fancy outfits would have been a status symbol, indicating that a lord could afford to dress his servants, especially in a household where different liveries were used at different times of the day, and for different events. Liveried servants were also easy to identify, differentiating them from the residents of the house and making it easy to know who they were loyal to when they traveled. Liveried servants also, of course, would have looked very impressive to visitors.

Not everyone was entitled to livery. It was generally reserved for higher-ranking servants who would be seen by residents of the household, and there were ranks of livery which entitled servants to specific privileges. A servant's rank could be determined by the style he wore, and various insignia on the clothing. Female servants did not wear such outfits, although some attempts were made to design livery for women at various points in history.

The use of livery for servants faded out in the early years of the 20th century, replaced with more generic uniforms. Examples of livery can be seen in paintings and the form of preserved garments in museums, illustrating the range of designs and colors which could be worn.

Followers of royalty and lords might also wear livery, in the form of a badge or insignia which identified them to others. As a general rule, a follower had to be granted the right to wear such clothies; in other words, someone couldn't just decide to wear something which identified them as a follower of a specific person, they had to demonstrate loyalty. This type of outfit often appears in works of art in the form of badges, necklaces, and so forth.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.