The Renaissance period is said the be the Great Chain of Being. The clothing style keeps changing every year. No one knows what to expect next. The people of today never had rules to follow. The people wear whatever they want. Back in the Renaissance period though, they did have rules for each of the classes of men and women. The children to the nobilities had different ways of dressing.
The Renaissance people had some rules they had to follow for the classes they were in. They have a mandatory dress code for each class. The person could not dress above his or her station. The royalty wore true purple, the middle class could not wear gold or silver trim, and the nobility wore black. If one walked by, he could tell what station the other person was in just by looking at him. It is said that it made life easier. Proper behavior to a person above or below them is very important. If one would touch a nobility, he would get a beating of his life would be on the line (Ohio Ren. 36). For weddings and special occasions this was an excuse to wear expensive silks and damask, velvet, and taffet. The clothes were an important mark of class distinction. The wealthy family would distribute smart clothes to servants so the whole family would give a good impression in public (Cavendish 20). Men and women shared equally in color and splendor of clothing (Cavendish 41).
The peasant men did not have the best clothes to wear. Peasant men usually wore a shift of shirt with breeches and jerkins over that. It was made of leather and wool. There was a pouch on the belt to carry personal belongings. All but the poorest man
would wear socks and shoes of leather. The hats were supposed to keep his hair out of his face (Ohio Ren 37).
The men in the lower class dressed similar to the peasants, but they had a few extra belongings. The men in the lower class wore a shirt or shift and breeches of some kind. He might wear laced-up, buttoned jerkin (vest) with or without sleeves. They wore a hat with biggins underneath to keep the shaggy hair out of his eyes. All but the poorest would have cloth hosen (stockings) and shoes if they had no hosen (Winter 16). In cold weather, they had a pouch to carry oddments and a small knife for eating purposes. The lower class men wore clothes with dirt, holes, or patches. Their bodies were seldom clean. They had to spin their own yarn and weave their own clothes. From hunting, they sometimes wore skins of rabbits and squirrels (Winter 17). Trims on their clothing were simple and consisted of embroidery or plain strips. The clothes barely matched, and everyone only had one outfit. Once the clothes were worn out, they were thrown out.
The clothes were combined with others and would be recycled in one form or another until fibers fell apart (Winter 18).
The lower middle class was the same as peasants but cleaner, neater, and less well worn. They owned more than one set of clothing. The shirts may have ruffle on the collar. The jerkin fit less like a sack (Winter 18). Ribbon or rows of embroidery are at the edges of the garments. The clothes are always colored but not silver or gold because of the cost and prohibitive laws. The jewelry was flat out and semi-precious stones in settings of brass or pewter. Pins are the most common (Winter 19). The men wear a coif
with a flat hat or straw over that. In the cold weather, they wore a fur trimmed cape to keep warm (Winter 18).
The middle class clothing was suitable to social/financial standing. It was made of merchant or petty nobles. Only moderately successful men wore clothing similar to peasant but with finer fabrics and neatly kept (Ohio Ren. 36).
The upper middle class had finer clothing. The shirts were made of fine linen and cotton with neck and wrist ruffles. A touch of blackwork embroidery on the collar and cuffs edges the ruffles. Sometimes they would have lace if they could afford it. Over the shirt they wore a close-fitting doublet with long or short skirting. It ended somewhere between the upper thigh and the knee. The length depended on the age. Men wore breeches of sloped, trunk hose or upperstocks with the lower half decorated. The hosen, knitted silk, reached up all the leg. The shoes were decorated with buckles or ribbon shoe-roses. The garter ties were fringed at the ends and embroided. A pouch hung from the belt with a dagger, and a gold chain around it to donate wealth. The fabrics were wool and linen but much finer than before.
They wore a flat tall crowned cap with feathers and fancy hatband. They had modern choir robes that had deep collars and revers of black velvet or fur. For winter, the garments were completely lined with fur (Winter 20). The colors were brighter jewels. They wore black for most of the formal occasions (Winter 21).
The nobleman was the peacock and fashion settler. The clothing was heavily pearled, jeweled, and embroidered. The shirts were made of fine linen, cotton, and silk
with lace-edged neck and wrist ruffs. If the guy was pot-bellied or stout, he wore a courset to give a slender look (Winter 21). The breeches now reached to the knees. The hosen was knitted of the finest silk. The garters were embroidered with gold or silver thread. Court shoes were made of velvet or soft leather and decorated with jeweled buckles or shoe roses. The men either had a flat cap, high crowned, or a narrow brummed creation. Small fortunes were on decorations of the hatband. The men spent less on feathers that were on the hat. The cap was decorated and lined with rare animal fur. The pouch on the belt held a sword and dagger, a fan, and gloves that were scented. Their gloves had slits at the knuckles so the people could see their rings. They also wore gold chains with jeweled buttons and brooches (Winter 22). The kings clothes were cloth of gold, velvet, silk, lace, damask, furs, and embroider undershirts (Gorsline 42). Mens clothing was entirely new except for hose and codpiece, and the latter became increasingly evident (Gorsline 42). The rich fabrics could not be washed. They also had sleeves that were detachable (Nunn 30). The nobles always wore velvet and satin (Broucher 196).
The short garment exposed the leg which made the hose tighter (Boucher 195).
The peasant women dressed similar to the peasant men. For the peasant women, they had fabrics coarsely woven by lower classes. The colors for dying were made from vegetable sources. The shifts/shirts are not dyed because they are washed a lot (Ohio Ren. 36). The long sleeved shift had two skirts over that. The upper shirt was always kept out of dirt. The hair was usually braided. The women had a belt with a pouch and a
basket on it. During cold weather, they had a shawl or a cape to wrap them in (Ohio Ren. 38). The women over thirteen had hair covered by headgear (Winter 75).
Lower middle class women had a little bit better clothing. The women in the lower middle class owned more than one shift that was less coarse. The skirts started to fit better with matching fabrics. The skirts were made from richer material. There was care on the hats with several designs. They had a belt with a pouch and an eating knife on it. They also had a basket to carry things in (Winter 76). They had knee length hose to keep up the garters the women wore. If they were lucky, they would have some kind of shoes (Winter 75). For the lower middle class, the women also had a hat and pouch that might be embroided to match the rest of the garments. A bunch of keys were carried on the belt for many different things. Hosen and shoes were nice but simple (Winter 77).
The upper middle class had finer clothing. Wives or daughters of knights were the women of upper and middle class. The neck and wrist had ruffs that were embroided and lace edged. Married women wore chemise that was closed down the front, and the single women wore chemise that was open down the front (Winter 77). The women usually wore wigs, hats, and headdresses. They had knitted hoses with ribbon garters. The shoes had low heels that were similar to dancing slippers. Outdoors they had chopiness that were wooden clogs to keep shoes clean. Everything was decorated with jewels. Household keys and a feather fan are carried on the belt. For what jewelry she could afford, it was gold or silver (Winter 79).
The upper class women had clothing fit for Queens. In the upper class, the women arose in the morning and removed the bedgown and nightcap. Petticoats were
also worn. The hosen were hand knitted of silk. They owned soft leather shoes with one- inch or two-inch heel. The low heels were made of velvet.
They too wore wigs (Winter 79). The hats were flat cap, french hood, affifet, and tall crowned. The scented gloves were made of soft leather with slits at the top of the fingers to show the rings off. Gold chains, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, rings, strands of pearls, and earrings were some of the jewelry (Winter 80).
The women had accessories and some of the clothes are the same for all classes. The womens clothes were tight fighting (Nunn 38). The low-cut dresses emphasize the bust covered with transparent fabric or left bare. The gowns were made of heavy silks. They had full-flowing shapes that were richly embroided and worn with bold jewelry (Warne 17). Shells, beads, teeth, and feathers were some of the accessories. They owned handkerchiefs edged with lace, diamond studded buckles on shoes and human hair of the wealthy (Warne 18).
I know some women who have more heads than the devil.
everyday they put on some new headgear. I see some wearing
them shaped like tripe, some like a pancake, some like a
dish. If you could only see yourselves, you look like a
lot of owls and hawks. Laws were passed in many cities
against such extravagance. (Cavendish 20)
Gowns were stern and simple, tight fitting, long-waisted bodices, and long skirts that were flared to the ground. A long cloak was tied at the neck with dangling cords (Gorsline 42). Womens clothing generally followed the mens patterns (Gorsline 43). The undergarments were silk with sleeves with low-cut necks. The blanchet in lined in
fur (Boucher 198). Womens clothing set the styles, and men copied it. The outstanding characteristic was the ruff (Gorsline 44).
The children had different styles of clothing by their age. The childrens clothes were designed like their parents. The babies wore swaddling clothes that changed in a day or two. When the babies began to crawl, they wore long shirts like the peasants. They wore dresses until they were toilet trained. When the babies wore long skirts it was easy on the mother to change the diapers (Winter 169). After the toilet training, they start to dress like small adults (Winter 168). Young boys and girls dressed alike in skirts and coifs or a bonnet. At age three or four, boys started dressing more masculine; the girls wore the bonnet until the ninth year (Nunn 46). Kids wanted to start dressing like kids.
After the people think about it, he really would not want to have rules for clothing or dress a certain way of what class you are in. One can see what the people of the Renaissance period had to go through. If they did not follow the dressing rules or dress the way you station should dress, one would get punished. Would a person want to live like that again?