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.
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, codpiece, corset, doublet, separate sleeves, breeches, belt, ruff, cloak, shoes, and a hat.
Elizabethan clothes provided information about the status of the person wearing them. This was not just dictated by the wealth of the person, it also reflected their social standing. Only Royalty were permitted to wear clothes trimmed with ermine. Lesser Nobles were allowed to wear clothing trimmed with fox and otter and so on and so forth. Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws dictated what colors and type of clothing individuals were allowed to own and wear, an easy and immediate way to identify rank and privilege. The materials and even the colors of Elizabethan clothing were therefore very important and sections have been dedicated to these subjects in relation to dyes, fabrics and the type of clothes that men were allowed to wear...
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