Elizabethan Era Fashion Essays

Elizabethan Fashion

The Elizabethan Era was a time that reflect the mood and values of the 16th

century though the use of fashion. It was a period in which a lot of originality

and creativity was evident was used to create new styles of dress (Black &

Garland 16). The Fashion in Elizabethan England at this time reflected the

values and Ideals of the era. It was an Era that based everything on the Great

Chain Of Being; which was a concept that everyone had a position in the

social standings of society that was given to him or her by God (Leed 1). The

citizens in England during the 16th century had their ordered stations in life,

and their clothing reflected who they were in society. Society was broken up

into three major categories; peasants, middle class and nobles. If your

clothing reflected the status of a different class then yours, you would be fined

under Sumptuary Laws (Leed 1). Elizabethan Society was a society very

different from today, but like today, the fashion reflected the mood and

influences on society. The Fashion that was displayed in Elizabethan England

was shaped by the impacts of Queen Elizabeth, the Spanish influence,

Christopher Columbus, their desires for youth and beauty, and the strict

social order. With these five influences the difference of the style of clothing

worn in upper and lower class society stood out. The wealthy were able to

afford the luxurious items the new founding in the world brought with it. The

foreign look was the look that society wanted to achieve during the

Elizabethan era, for it reflected the values of Queen Elizabeth, who happened

to be the ideal women of the era. Things that are not controllable sometimes

have an influence on society that is not expected. One effect that should have

been expected was that Queen Elizabeth would have an impacted on the

society that she gave her name to. The one thing that wasn't expected

however was the extent to which Queen Elizabeth would influence fashion.

Queen Elizabeth was passionate about fashion and she spread her love for it

through out the kingdom. One of Queen Elizabeth's talents was her ability to

use any situation to her political advantage (Boucher 17). She wanted to be

seen as a person with power and capability and she thought rich cloths would

help obtain that opinion. The rich fabrics and jewels displayed incredible

wealth, power and prestige (Leed 1). Wealth and power were not the only

thing Queen Elizabeth achieved with her wardrobe. She had a great fondness

for foreign dress and this had an incredible impact on English fashion of the

times. England admired Queen Elizabeth's style and tried to imitate it to their

ability. She set the stance for what fashion should be, and most upper class

women followed her lead. This gave Queen Elizabeth the ability to create a

piece of fashion that would always be associated with her era. The Spanish

farthingale belonged to Katherine of Aragon, even though it was

predominantly scene through out the 16th century, but the Ruff belonged to

her (Contini 130). She made them a masterpiece of the own making them

higher and larger. She had the technological advances she needed in order to

give her era the credit it desired for the advances she made in fashion.

England became the country know for its lace making, and the invention of

starch helped her achieve great height on her ruffs. By the time of Queen

Elizabeth's death, the look of fashion had changes entirely. The Tudor style

had disappeared and the International look had arrived. Queen Elizabeth paid

great attention to detail in every item she wore. She consulted many designers

and sent patterns all over Europe in order to have outfits that reflected the

whole of Europe and gave her an incredible sense of power. Queen Elizabeth

started the fixation with foreign items. She had a great effect on Elizabethan

England, for not only was the style of fashion named after her, but she also

set the presence for what the rest of the society wanted. She was the center

of attention and everyone wanted to be like her to their capability, for she

knew fashion, and how to extenuate it with foreign items, and jewels.

Exploration is a powerful thing. The fashion of the 16th century reflected the

great interest in travel and exploration as a result of Christopher Columbus

and his sailing the ocean blue. It was an era that dedicated itself to the search

of new markets and raw materials, with the goal of new exotic modes of

dress in mind (Tortora & Eubank 126). Christopher Columbus's founding's

left the world curious, especially England. England had a new interest in

finding new materials and methods that they never desired before. If an item

was new, it was valuable and wanted by many. Through the 16th century,

Spanish fashion was individualized and people liked that. The drastic spread

of Spanish costume through Europe came from the prestige the Spaniards

gained from the discoveries of Christopher Columbus who, although did not

find an immediate sea route to transport silk, recognized the immerse flow of

precious metals from the Americans to Spain (Boucher 131). This gave

Elizabethans a sense of pride that they could be different but still fashionable.

This is why England was infatuated with it. But nonetheless the Spanish style

was not a style of its own. It had gone through many influences itself. It had

taken traits form other countries like Germany France and Italy and

combined it together to make a style that everybody wanted. Spain had

incorporated haberdashery from Venice and Germany, Gems and combs

from France, fine linen form Flanders, and velvet or Milanese gold thread

form Italy (Leed 3). They had taken every countries style and created the

ideal foreign style that was greatly desired at this time as a result of

Christopher Columbus. This style appealed to Queen Elizabeth and therefore

the rest of the Elizabethan society wanted it. Because of the cost of importing,

the foreign style was a style that belonged to the wealthy in England and it

help determines the upper nobles from just the nobles. The desire to fit an

ideal is a desire that is present in all societies and in all eras. Everyone wants

to be the perfect image of the time and in the Elizabethan era they helped

achieve that ideal through the means of serious make-up. The ideal of the era

was to be pale skin, with scarlet coloured lips and checks, with fair hair

(Leed 1). All these ideals could be achieved with the use of pigments but

pigmenting was very expensive. The wealthy enjoyed the fact that they were

the only ones in their society who could spare the time and afford the

procedures it took to fit the ideal, and this was on purpose. The ideal

Elizabethan should not only be pretty but she should be respected and rich

and that should only be obtainable by the wealthy, for if everyone could

achieve it, the drastic separation between the upper and lower classes would

be loss and once everyone can reach the ideal the ideal changes. This desire

to be young and beautiful effected Elizabethan fashion drastically. For the

desire to be the ideal was also expressed through what they wore. For the

ideal women in society wore cloths that decreased her size and made her the

spitting image of beauty. Societies standings in Elizabethan times were directly

related to wealth. Members who where included in the upper class society

were able to display their flare for fashion as well as wealth through the use of

accessories, jewelry, the decoration of their cloths and most importantly the

styles of clothing they wore. With the new founding's of the time the wealthy

was able to extenuate their flare through beautiful embroidery, new materials

and the application of jewels. They began to use more and more elaborate

patterns that had been seen in other places in the world. This separated the

upper class from not only the lower class, but also the middle class, for all the

new discoveries of the world were extremely expensive. The upper class was

able to afford new fabrics like raw silk, Satin, new weaves of linen, and

fabrics with different pigmenting. They took their old patterns and turned

them into masterpieces, adding pearls, gems and lace to them. The nobles

had class and it was displayed through what they wore. They were able to

reflect the ideal image of Elizabethan society through what they wore. Fashion

reflects the mood of an era, and during the 16th century it did exactly that. It

reflected the strict social order that took place in England, which created

superiority among the upper class. Fashion was intended to please the

senses, the sense of sight by colour and pattern, the sense of tough by the

décor of the fabric, and the combination of different textures and materials,

and the sense of smell by perfume (Boucher 16). Elizabethan Fashion did

please the senses, for the attention to detail was so great that touching an

outfit could cure many senses, and maybe even the soul. Outfits where

designed especially for each person, taking in to consider his or her history

and desires. They made the outfits with care, making them a part of the

person who they belong to. An outfit could capture many desires and

memories, through the use of scenting, attaching jewels and embroidering.

Fashion is a way in which people express their feelings and moods. But

fashion can also reflect what wants to be seen and the ideals and values of a

society. Fashion reflected these ideals and values through the use of foreign

fabrics, accessories, decoration and serious make-up as the result of

Christopher Columbus, and Queen Elizabeth I influence. During the 16th

century, Fashion made the upper class, for your wealth was determined by

what you could afford to wear. It was a time much different from today, but

still, the Elizabethan society expressed many ascetic desires that were

captured so well through the use of fashion. Work Cited 1. Black, Anderson

J., and Garland, Madge. A History of Fashion. New York: Wiliam Morrow

and Company Inc., 1975. 2. Boucher, Francois. 20,000 years of Fashion.

New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc. Publishers, 1987. 3. Contini, Mila.

Fashion- From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: The Odyssey

Press, 1965. 4. Eubank, Kieth., and Tortora, Phyllis. A Survey of Historic

Costume. New York: Fairchild Publications, 1990. 5. Leed, Drea Queen

Elizabeth's Impact on Elizabethan Fashion (Internet) Elizabethan Costume

Homepage February 2nd, 2000 URL: 6. Leed, Drea Elizabethan Make-up

101 (Internet) Elizabethan Costume Homepage February 2nd, 2000 URL:

Bibliography 1. Ashelford, Jane. The Visual History of Costume- The 16th

Century. New York: Drama Book Publishers, 1983. 2. Boyce, Charels.

Shakespeare A to Z. New York: A Roundtable Press book; Facts on File,

1990. 3. Chartier, Roger., and Goldhammer, Arthur. A History of Private

Life-Passions of the Renaissance. Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of

Harvard University Press, 1989. 4. Davenport, Milla. The Book Of

Costume. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1948. 5. Elizabethan

Embellishments (Internet) The Costume Homepage February 1st, 2000 URL:

6. Leed, Drea. Women's Clothing for the lower orders (Internet) The

Elizabethan Costume Homepage February 1st, 2000 URL: 7. Racinet,

Albert. The Historical Encyclopedia of Costumes. New York: Facts on File

Publications, 1988. 8. Vecellio, Cesare. Vecellios Renaissance Costume

Book. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1977. 9. Weiditz, Christoph.

Authentic Everyday dress of the Renaissance. New York: Dover

Publications, 1994. 10. Wilcox, R. Turner. A History of Fashion. New York:

Charles Scribners sons, 1969.

Word Count: 1958

Fashion During the Elizabethan Era Essay

1243 Words5 Pages

Have you ever wondered what people in the Elizabethan Era wore? Fashion was just as important in those days as it is to some people today. What people were wearing mattered to others, and even the government. During the Elizabethan Era clothing, accessories, and cosmetics were all a part of daily life. During the Elizabethan Era, there were a set of rules controlling which classes could wear which clothing called the Sumptuary Laws. The Sumptuary Laws controlled the colors and types of clothing a person could wear. This allowed an easy and immediate way to identify rank and privilege (Elizabethan Era | Clothing). Those found dressed in inappropriate clothing could be fined, lose property, lose rank, and even be killed (Elizabethan Dress…show more content…

Clothing followed her tastes throughout her reign. Her hair and makeup, which you will read about later, were also highly influential. Many people aspired to resemble or look like Queen Elizabeth I. Clothing was also an important part in men's lives. The Sumptuary laws implied to not only the women, but to the men too. Men also wore many layers, some similar to the women. According to Linda Alchin, "The fashions were designed to give the impression of a small waist-especially desired by the women but also emulated by men" (Elizabethan Upper Class Fashion). They wore most of the following under layers: a shirt, stockings, a codpiece, and a corset. Then, most of the following over layers: a doublet, separate sleeves, breeches, a belt, a ruff, a cloak, and boots or flat shoes. Men's clothing fashions were related to those of women's due to the similar, and many layers. Costumes during theatre were to be realistic. Permits were issued to allow actors to dress in necessary clothing if their character was of a different social class. Females were not permitted to act in the theatre at the time. Because of this, men were also dressed to play female characters in the theatre. Costumes played an important part in theatre. The meaning of colors and materials were the main rules set by the Sumptuary laws. Elizabethan England was divided into three social classes. The upper class included the monarch, nobility,

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