Elizabethan Clothing: The Prototypical Wardrobe

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The Elizabethan era is most famous for the extravagant, luxurious clothing worn by the nobility and wealthy merchants. But there were many types of clothes available to people at this time, and not all members of society could afford such luxuries. Those who couldn’t afford expensive garments, would have had to rely on their own skills as a tailor or seamstress to create clothing that was both fashionable and affordable. This blog post will take an in-depth look into what it meant to dress fashionably during the Elizabethan Era, from head-to-toe!

Some points about Elizabethan Era Fashion:

  • The Elizabethan era saw the rise of fashion as an industry, and the new levels of wealth in England led to a culture that valued outward appearance more than ever before. It was not uncommon for people to wear fine clothes even when they went about their daily business; dress codes were relaxed and it became customary for children to go barefoot at home or outside.
  • Clothing during this time period had strict rules on how one should dress depending on social status, with some items reserved only for those who could afford them. Those who couldn’t afford dresses often wore gowns instead – these garments are what we know today as skirts but without any waistline seam! Gowns typically flowed from high up near your neck to the floor and were split in front so that you could walk.
  • The most common female headwear was a close-fitting cap, often worn beneath a veil of some sort. It is said that Queen Elizabeth I would wear her hair loose with just this hat on top! This style became known as “coifs” or “kerchief caps”, usually made from linen or silk material but sometimes even velvet for those who had it (and money!). Hats weren’t really used then because people wore their hair long such that hats didn’t fit properly; instead, they resembled turbans wrapped around one’s head. Interestingly enough these are still popular today among Muslim women living in places like Saudi Arabia where only females cover themselves up due to religious reasons.
  • Men also had headwear options, though these were limited to hats and caps (perukes) that covered the hair or wig of those who wore them. The peruke was a type of wig for men made from human hair or horsehair which resembled natural hair; unlike wigs today they could be styled in any way desired instead of just a pre-set shape like bangs swept across one’s forehead*. These perukes required grooming every day so it wasn’t uncommon for someone to hire an exclusive hairdresser who would come every day to take care of their locks!
  • *The exception being when women wanted long curled waves called “pudding” around the face but this style is only seen on formal occasions such as coronations or weddings and was not a daily occurrence.
  • Women, on the other hand, had many options of headwear to choose from including caps made of lace with fabric looping around the brim* (coifs), which were worn under hats such as wide-brimmed straw hats called “turrets”*, bandeaux that covered only their forehead but also lengthened down over their shoulders like an Elizabethan version of a headband, veils for those who wanted them to cover up everything below the eyebrows except for the eyes, and wigs if they didn’t want hair loss due to frequent use by wigmakers*. More than just clothing accessories though these items helped keep women’s complexions fresh in addition to shielding them from the sun.
  • “At this time, there were many powders and lotions on the market to help maintain a woman’s skin.”* Women would typically wear caps underneath their hats in order to protect themselves from UV rays*.
  • Many of these products came with warnings such as one 1588 ad for a French concoction called Aqua Mirabilis that included instructions not to use it if someone had an ulcer or open wounds because it can cause severe irritation.* This is just another example of how Elizabethan fashion was dangerous and inconvenient sometimes.

– If people are interested in replicating clothes based on portraits they have seen, then there are some resources available online like the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City and the National Archives.*