The Elizabethan era was a time period centered around the life of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603). This period in time is considered the peak of English history and is the beginning of when people began to think and believe differently. That brought along changes in the way people dressed. How people, particularly rich ones, dressed was just another way for them to express themselves. Social classes are also very much prominent in the era. These social classes influenced the fashion of the Elizabethan era. This is shown in men’s and women’s clothes, shoes, hats, and accessories in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (Whitmore, Deanne)
In the 1500’s men’s clothing was generally black in color because it went with everything and was the “in” color. Silk doublets and velvet mantles with slashed and puffed sleeves were what your average man would wear up top. For pants, tights were still in style but breeches were beginning to become popular. The royalty and upper class would generally wear the same style of clothing as the middle class but with nicer material. The lower class people would wear whatever they could find. Men’s shoes also changed during this time. (Head over Heels 1500s)
Men’s shoes in the Elizabethan era went from being heavy and bulky to being light and dainty. For example, the heelless eschapin came into style. These shoes were almost the same as women’s shoes, but excluding the heel. They were usually made of fine leather and covered with ribbons and ornaments. The lower class would not usually wear shoes because each pair had to be handmade and were often very expensive. Much like the shoes, men’s hats in the 1500’s were very radical compared to those of the previous centuries. (Head over Heels 1500s)
During the early sixteenth century, men’s hats were flat, silk or velvet slabs sitting on top of the head, but by the middle of the century they revolutionized into massive hats that looked like crowns on top of people’s heads. Hats were tall and decorated with feathers and multicolored. Extra accessories were also quite popular to wear during the time period. (England Fashion during the Elizabethan Age)
The accessories men wore in the 1500’s were generally a jerkin and ruffles worn over a doublet. Jerkins are usually made of thick leather for extra protection. The next ornament men would wear is the ruff. The ruff is a collar that sticks out eight inches and is stiff from starch. It made the men that wore them look like dogs with cones on. Women wore these too, but they didn’t wear them long because they didn’t quite catch on with women. They showed too much of their necks. Women’s fashions were very conservative, only allowing the showing of their face and hands. (Lad, Kashmira)
Women in the early Elizabethan era usually wore a kirtle with a fitted bodice and underskirts. The kirtle is an overdress that is fitted at the top, and then opens up at the bottom. It has a slit in the front, starting just below the fitted part, showing the underskirts underneath. Underneath the fitted part they would wear a corset to make them look skinner. The skirts they wore under them were called petticoats. Petticoats are extra skirts that give the wearer a more hourglass figure. For richer people, the farthingale was in fashion, an underskirt that was very tight in the torso and came into a hoop at the waist. Women would wear huge gowns over these with what looked like wings sticking out their backs built into the gown. They would wear very dainty shoes with these as well. (Lad, Kashmira)
Shoes for women in the 16th century were very similar to men's. They were often made of fine leather or, if the lady was wealthy, then silk velvet or brocade. They had lots of embellishments on them, especially slashing and puffing, because that was the theme of the time, but sometimes ribbons and other decorations were added...