The word renaissance means rebirth or rebirth . This extremely important historical period began in the 14th century in the city-states of present-day Italy, which did not exist as a state entity at the time, spread north, and ended around 1650.
The Renaissance was inspired by the great achievements of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, almost forgotten and largely denied during the Middle Ages, called by many the Dark Ages.
The clothes show and have always shown the versatility of the personality, and the personalities who lived during this period are extremely interesting. We must mention Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. From their works we can judge the aspirations of the people at that time.
The ideal of beauty in the Late Middle Ages is related to the fact that the body is elongated and narrow, while that of the Renaissance is quite different. Women’s clothing makes the lower part of the body look extremely wide, and for men the emphasis is on the shoulders, which are also slightly exaggerated.
The clothes worn by women are in many layers, four or five. One of the reasons for this is the Little Ice Age – a climatic phenomenon characterized by falling temperatures. It affects Northern Europe and especially present-day Great Britain. The other is practicality. The chemise-like undergarment can be washed repeatedly, unlike a velvet or wool dress worn on top.
Often the emphasis in clothing is on the sleeves , which can be very different – a buff, cut, with cuffs or folded to show the contrasting lining.
Renaissance fashion was marked by the rivalry between the various royal courts in Europe. Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I were its legislators in England, Francois I in France, and Charles V in Spain.
Black is reserved for the rich, as dyeing fabrics in this color is the most expensive.
The Renaissance originated in Florence and spread to other cities in the Apennines. As a link between East and West, they are extremely important for the production and trade of raw materials such as wool, silk, linen and cotton. In addition, their processing and painting is developed there.
Clothing is not so important for the lower classes, but it is very important in politics.
Cosimo I Medici , a prominent representative of the most famous patrons in history, hopes for his most lavish clothes when he meets the pope, high clergy and princes to demonstrate his power and wealth, but when he meets ordinary people, his clothes are more modest. The reason is that he wants to show them as an earthly man, a man of action.
The young and unmarried women of the age wore their hair loose, but when they got married, they began to braid it in various and complex ways.
Clothes often have slits through which the lining is pulled.
Imported and ornate fabrics are a sign of wealth, but not of aristocratic origin.
Pianelle is reminiscent of today’s platforms, but during the Renaissance in Italy, especially in Venice, reached great heights. The first reason is that these high shoes allow a woman to keep her dress clean of mud, the second is that it makes her gait more attractive, and the third – shows her wealth.
The Elizabethan era
Everyone in the English court in the second half of the 16th century imitated the queen. That’s why red, curly hair and a pale face are necessary. Many people believe that white skin is fashionable in this period, as aristocrats want to emphasize the fact that they do not engage in physical labor in the sun, but this is a myth. The truth is that Elizabeth I was in fierce rivalry with the Spanish ruler, and white-faced fashion was more the result of English patriotism.
This pallor is achieved by white powder based on lead. This powder is poisonous and has a terrible effect if it is overdone, and this was a common practice during the reign of Elizabeth I, and later of Marie Antoinette.
The Queen of England, who succeeded Henry VIII, was painted many times, and from these portraits we can judge the change in fashion during this period. Towards the end of her reign, her dresses became extremely wide at the bottom, as can be seen from her portrait.
Her clothes are richly embroidered and sewn with attention to every detail. Her dresses are known to number more than 3,000. The Queen’s cost of clothing is known to reach £ 10,000 a year, compared to an average London craftsman earning £ 20 a year. Yet Elizabeth I is considered a thrifty queen. James I, who succeeded her to the throne, sprayed 66,000 pounds a year.
Women’s clothing during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Heavily cut neckline is considered acceptable and even extremely popular. It often has two right angles and its edge is decorated with pearls. The empty space allows it to be filled with jewelry.
The clothing of the ladies of high society is pompous and extremely impractical, it restricts movement to a very great extent.
Lower class women dress far more simply. However, they have to work hard and have no servants to help them put on their clothes.
Aristocrats are not allowed to miss uncomfortable pieces of clothing such as the early corset-like style that was popular at the time, nor the fartingale (the lower skirt, extended by a series of round hoops, first enters the Spanish court), or the crescent-shaped pillow bum roll ), which is worn around the hips to make the waist optically narrower.
As already mentioned, special attention is paid to the sleeves. They hang and can be removed in case they get dirty, for example when eating. They are often a gift from the groom to the bride, passed down from mother to daughter, and sometimes rented out. That’s how important they are!
The shelf is a white starched collar. It comes in a variety of sizes, according to fashion trends, and is also beginning to be worn in the Spanish courtyard. There are various versions of its function, among which it hides the scars of syphilis, but most likely it was purely aesthetic.
Women at that time were not entitled to many independent decisions and the choice of clothes was one of the few. People during the Renaissance had to buy the fabrics for their clothes separately and give them to the tailor. In this way, there are fewer intermediaries and they are very familiar with the process. The customer has to buy exactly as much as needed with minimal leftovers due to the high price.
Men’s clothing during the Renaissance in England
Men who lived in the time of Queen Elizabeth I wore socks. Often the upper part is swollen and the lower part sticks to the legs. The torso is most often worn in a short jacket ( doublet ). The silhouette creates the illusion of thin legs and massive shoulders.
They often adorn one ear with earrings, as does Shakespeare, from whose works we can learn a great deal about the customs of the age.
Elizabeth makes some extremely controversial decisions. It bans the cotton trade to support the local wool industry.
In 1589, the Englishman William Lee expressed a desire to patent a knitting machine, but the queen did not allow it, as she feared that many people would lose their jobs. The technology of clothing production during the Renaissance remained rudimentary.
For these and other reasons, fashion as we know it today excludes the lower strata of society and remains only for the upper strata. Beautiful clothes and accessories are often criticized and associated with low morals and waste.