Renaissance Clothing Research Paper Sample
Fashion today is all about styling clothes that look like they are from the thrift store. More and more trends are making cheap clothes popular, to get the street-style look. Way back in the Renaissance years, it was the complete opposite. With more detail and color, people showed their wealth, lifestyle, and job. Life in the Renaissance has a lot more to do with clothing than most people think. Whether it be rich or poor, men or women, there was a specific type of clothing that was worn in the Renaissance.
To begin, there are different types of clothing materials and colors. Most cloth was made by women (Langley 23), whether it be knitting, felting, weaving (Grimbly 8), or chainmail making (Langley 51). The women that twist wool are known as “spinsters” (23). Wool was taken to the next level with the twelfth and thirteenth century introducing the dying of wool cloth (Grimbly 7), making wool more common. More pastures and more machines started appearing, making mass-produced wool (Carnagie 599). Luxury cloth had “sumptuary laws” that would “limit the consumption of luxury items.” Sumptuary laws basically said who could wear what based on the shape and style (598). Green was the color of hope (Rublack 21) and yellow was popular (23). Heavy fabrics, drapery, close-fitting clothes, head coverings, pieces lined with fur, buttons, jewelry, fine lace, and gold thread were all considered expensive (Streissguth 80). Wardrobes reflected “expectations of what a person might look like and behave” (Rublack 25).
Rich fashion consists of many details. Expensive clothing (mostly silk and some heavy wool) were from Italy’s weaving centers. Spain and France also produced and imported cloth, but not as much as Italy (Carnagie 598). The materials from Italy could even be made into floral patterns for an extra touch (Streissguth 79). Tall and slender was the ideal body type. Italians even took it one step further and wrote about cosmetic surgery (Rublack 20). Gaining weight was considered equal to growing old (21).
Poor fashion was anything practical that they could get their hands on. If people mixed cultures in their fashion statements, it was morally unidentifiable and frowned upon. While at the same time, if people did not care about fashion at all, they were considered archaic (Rublack 23). Women wore long skirts and cloaks, while men wore linen breeches and wool jackets (Streissguth 80). Bailiffs, for example, wore a pointed hat to block the sun and drain water. Stirrups were also part of the Bailiff style, for a slender look in the legs (Langley 15). Peasants wore a “pewter badge” which was a cheap good luck charm, but that would have been the only detail they would have had (11).
Fashion for men then was pretty close to what women wear today. Broad shoulders stuffed with straw, lace ribbons called points, bright red colors, and tight-fitting clothes were all worn. Men would have servants to “tie up the points'' and fasten together their clothing. Guys would also have quilted fabric for their doublet (outer jacket) that sinches at the waist and are usually black color, traced with gold (Carnagie 599). Guildsman, for example, would have many outgoing qualities in their wardrobe as a craftsman. A big, obnoxious, black “borrelais” hat was worn with a wool coat (the thicker the wool, the more expensive) with fur trim. Jackets are worn under the wool coat, lined with double linen. As for pants, men wore brightly colored red “joined hose” made to measure, with a codpiece attached to them. Leather pieces usually have a design on them to indicate the price. Attached to a thin, colored leather belt, they have a fancy purse to hold belongings. Also, they wear mid-calf boots made out of the same material (Grimbly 51). The puffy doublets stuffed with straw have the look of wearing armor. Wearing hose was also new to men because their legs were out (Carnagie 600).
Fashion for women was very modest. Dresses had hemlines to the ground (Streissguth 80), the sleeves could be pinned on for special occasions. The dress was called a “kirtle” and is cinched at the waist. Women had linen headwraps, prayer beads on their belts. (Langley 23). Cosmetics, jewelry, headgear, and white powder makeup were all worn to enhance the feminine look (Carnagie 600). Corsets were worn so tight that breasts were tightly compressed (601). Ladies would even borrow their friends’ outfits to stay as fashionable as possible (Rublack 23).
The way people dress tells stories about what they did throughout their life. People nowadays could look homeless but could be a millionaire. As a society, we should not judge a book by its cover like they did in the Renaissance.