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Posts Tagged ‘renaissance clothing’

As usual in the world of fashion, people with an abundance of influence, control, and power tend to set the current trends and styles.  This has always been true since the dawn of time.  The only difference that back in the Olden Days the monarchs set these trends, while now it is usually celebrities.

English: Tudor Rose as a Royal Badge of Englan...

Although numerous monarchs influenced Renaissance fashion, the Tudor monarchs of England had perhaps the most important impact on Western European fashions of the 16th century.  And out of these monarchs, the most influential were Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Henry the VIII was, during the younger part of his life, active and reportedly handsome, extremely vain, and a symbol for all things manly.  The Venetian ambassador described him in 1515 (when Henry would have been 24) as this: “His majesty is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an extremely fine calf to his leg, his complexion very fair and bright, with auburn hair combed straight and short,…his throught being rather long and thick.”  He also had a wide girth and large proportions that he enjoyed accenting with doublets stuffed at the shoulders, duckbill shoes, and codpieces.  He was also never lacking in an abundance of fur and jewels to showcase his wealth.  He reportedly spent 16,000 ducats on clothing annually, which would be about $3,140,000 today.  He was also described as being “the best-dressed sovereign in the world: his robes [were] the richest and most superb that [could] be imagined: and he [put] on new clothes every Holyday.”

Subsequently, his styles became fashionable throughout the Western European empires.  Methods, such as slashing & puffing and stuffing sleeves & shoulders, that enlarged the figure became wildly popular during his reign and remained even after his death.  Even women’s clothing exhibited more fur and larger sleeves.

His six wives also made some considerable contributions.  Katherine of Aragon from Spain introduced the Spanish farthingale to England.  Anne Boleyn made French fashions of crescent caps/French hoods and tight, square-necked bodices popular in royal courts (although not French herself, she spent a few years there serving as maid of honor to Queen Claude and lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Marguerite).  Anne of Cleves introduced Flemish styles the English court, including leg-of-mutton sleeves.

King Edward VI, Henry VIII’s only son and heir, continued in the fashions of his father.  However, he used those styles to attempt to hide is small, slight figure rather than to accentuate his manly features as his father did.  All though the rule of Lady Jane Grey lasted only nine days, she did manage to bring more high-necked, Spanish-style surcoat gowns into style.  Queen Mary was not particularly popular, so did not have much influence on fashions of the time, although she was reported as wearing very ostentatious, bejeweled clothing.

And now we come to Elizabeth I.  She was very fond of clothing, so much so that when she died she had over 3,000 gowns and headpieces in her wardrobe.  Although she was never considered a great beauty, her style was widely admired and mimicked.  She was a tiny woman–small-breasted and small-waisted.  consequently, fashions accented a silhouette of a long, flat, narrow torso.  Even men wore corsets to try to make their bodies fit this mode.  Her pale complexion and high forehead caused women to wear even more white powder/paste on their faces than before and pluck their foreheads and eyebrows (Elizabeth actually died from lead poisoning from the lead that was in the white makeup she used to cover her smallpox scars).  She also loved elaborate clothing just as much, if not more, than her father.  Her outfits were always lavished with jewels, embroidery, ribbons, and lace.  Her particular favorites were pearls, representing her image as the “Virgin Queen.”  The below painting is her “Rainbow Portrait” and depicts the color and embellishments always decorating her gowns and headdresses.

This next portrait is her “Armada Portrait,” painted shortly after the defeat of the Spanish Armada.  It portrays the styles she made fashionable, including the ruff, wasp waist, and leg-of-mutton sleeves, as well as her love of pearls.

Queen Elizabeth was one of the most loved monarchs of all time, and her influence in the realm of fashion is a good example of her influence over people, as well as their devotion to her.

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Once again I shall make a glossary of clothing terms, this time from the Renaissance.  Some of the terms I defined for Medieval clothing were also used during the Renaissance and I will most likely use some of those terms in current posts, so their definitions can be found here.

basquine — boned bodice made of whalebone and leather, gave the appearance of wider shoulders tapering to a tiny waist (women)

beret— thin, loose hats that usually tilted towards one side of the head

Renaissance beret

bombasting — stuffing for trunk hose, peascod-belly, and leg-of-mutton sleeves, composed of rags, flock, and other materials

bourrelet — wider version of the farthingale adapted in France, more cylindrical in shape rather than conical (women)

bum roll/bolster — roll of padding tied around the hip line to hold the skirt out from the body, less restrictive than the farthingale (women)

camicia — undershirt usually made of white linen (men)

canions — upper stocks worn from the doublet to the knee (men)

chopines — shoes that elevated the wearer, eventually developed into high heels

crescent cap — circular/heart-shaped cap worn towards the back of the head with a velvet veil covering the rest of the hair

codpiece — padded triangle of fabric worn laced to the front of the trunk hose over the groin (men)

copotain — high bell-shaped hat

doublet — man’s bodice

duckbill shoes/scarpines/ox-mouth shoe — large, wide, square-toed shoes often decorated with jewels or slashes (men)

enseigne — disc-shaped hat ornament, usually extremely detailed with jewels/carvings (men)

farthingale — topmost petticoat, hooped to give shape to the skirt (women)

finestrella sleeves — sleeves where the outer fabric was slit horizontally and the sleeves of the undergarment were pulled through (women)

flat cap — flat hat with soft crown and moderately broad brim (men)

funnel sleeves — sleeves that were fitted at the upper arm and ballooned out, fitted tightly around wrist

gorget— neck ornament

Kennel or Gable Headdress

jerkin— short velvet or leather jacket, usually sleeveless (men)

kennel/gable headdress — pentagonal piece worn over the top of the head with veil/bag cap of dark velvet attached to the back and covering hair (women)

leg-of-mutton sleeves — puffed sleeves that extended the entire length of the arm

neck wisk — a falling ruff that was open at the front, resembling a collar

nether stocks — trunks worn under breeches, long enough so that the bottoms could be seen (men)

pantofles — wooden platforms attached to the sole of the shoe with pieces of fabric to protect them from rain, snow, and mud

peascod-belly doublet — doublet rounded at the abdomen to give the appearance of a filled-out belly (men)

points — resembled shoelaces, used to attach trunk hose to doublets or sleeves to doublets or bodices (lacing/trussing)

pokes — apron-like pockets tied to the doublet (men)

ruff — starched (often with different colors) and wired collar pleated into ruffles, could be made of lace or jeweled, usually had matching cuffs

shoe rose — decoration usually made of lace or jewels that was worn at the front of the shoe

slashing and puffing — slits cut in a garment with fabric from the undergarment pulled through to form puffs

stomacher — stiffened triangular piece worn at the front of the bodice, reaching from neckline to lower abdomen (women)

supportasse — frames of silk-colored wire pinned underneath the ruff to keep it in place

trunk hose/pumpkin hose — ballonish-looking breeches that extended from the end of the doublet to about mid-thigh (men)

Venetians— full breeches that reached the knee

Wings on the Shoulders

verdingale/farthingale frill — stiff wheel of fabric, often pleated, worn between the bodice and the skirt (women)

wasp waist — deep V-shaped waistline that extended over the skirt

wings — rolled fabric worn vertically around each shoulder, between the sleeve and the bodice

wisk/Medici collar — fan-shaped pleated collar, stiffened with wire and open at the front

zipone — buttoned tunic that reached the knee worn over the doublet (men)

zornea — cape with wide sleeves, belted at the waist (men)

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