Elizabethan Clothing

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The most alien concepts of the Elizabethan era was that, regardless of their wealth, Elizabethans were not allowed to wear what clothes they liked. Their clothing and items of apparel were dictated by the Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws which governed the style and materials worn. The Elizabethan Sumptuary Clothing Laws were used to control behaviour and to ensure that a specific class structure was maintained. English Sumptuary Laws governing the clothing that Elizabethans wore were well known by all of the English people. The penalties for violating Sumptuary Laws could be harsh : fines, the loss of property, title and even life. Clothing in Elizabethan England showed the social status of the owner. The wealthiest people owned the nicest clothes, many times made out of velvet, corduroy, satins, and other fine weaves. The lower class people would be found wearing less sophisticated clothes, with far fewer embellishments.

Lower Class

An undergarment of a poorer woman was a smock. It comes made of linen, can be knee or calf length, and has long sleeves. The smock was almost completely cut in rectangles with very straight lines. A rectangular shape prevents wasting precious fabric. These smocks were most often found in off-white, and had little or no embroidery. The skirts that peasant women wore were to their ankles or longer. They were very full around the waist, and not fitted. They were also very plain. The skirts were usually made of wool or linen.

The women amd men in the Elizabethan era wore underclothes and over clothes. Some of the underclothes for the women included : smock or shift, also called a chemise made of linen, stockings or hose, corest or bodice, farthingale - a hooped skirt, a roll or rowle, stomacher, petticoat, kirtle, forepart, and parlet. The over clothes were gown, separate sleeves, ruff, cloak, shoes, and hat. The underclothes and over clothes were fewer for the men. Their underclothes contained shirts, stockings or hose,...
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