The Elizabethan time period, lasting from 1558-1603, was the peak of the English Renaissance, poetry, literature, and theatre as well as the age of exploration and expansion. The clothing of the period was elaborate and artsy, easily showing your social class as well as telling who you were and what you could do. Although uncomfortable and not very practical, it was very pretty and elegant both for men and women depending on your place in ‘The Great Chain of Being’. The women’s fashion from the Elizabethan era is my favorite.
Peasant women, or lower class women, wore dresses that were plain and much simple although still having to wear a bodice. The women made the dresses themselves from sewing the garment together to dyeing the article to desired color. Since the women made their own dresses, they avoided embellishments and shoulder ruffs, which required more time and labor. Upper class women wore dresses that were truly exhausting to wear. Since these women didn’t have to do very much, they wore many complex, uncomfortable layers. Upper middle class women often made their own dresses, although they spent much more time and effort making the dresses. Upper class and noble women wore more layers then they had fingers, usually requiring help from several other women to put on.
Men wore basic clothing that was made most often by their wives or female family members, even the highest ranked women. Peasant men wore several more layers then the peasant women but were made to be much more practical for the jobs the men may have pursued. The upper middle class clothing was intended to show that they were financially stable and trustworthy. Noble clothing was intended to show their wealth, status, and attractiveness. Although they did not work, their clothing was not confining like upper class women’s.