I've had this tab open for like two months. I keep thinking I'm saving it for someone but then forgetting who that is. If I already posted it here I apologize.
This is a piece from the British Museum about armor made from crocodile hide. At first glance that might seem pretty useless, but these guys have the animal version of armor plating.
This particular suit is about 1800 years old. Be sure to click the image so you can zoom in.
If you think this is pretty flimsy armor you should take a look at the history of armor. The Romans also used to use armor made of felt. That's right, felted wool, which could also be treated to protect from fire.
Proof positive that you didn't have to be rich to give yourself a modicum of protection.