The Rich History of Renaissance Clothing

During the Renaissance, the wealthier and more prosperous members of a city, town or region often wore elaborate and highly-decorated renaissance clothing that was hand crafted from a variety of rich and expensive fabrics and finishes. In fact, the richer a family was the more expensive and ornate their Renaissance clothing was, as this was one of the primary ways of indicating stature and wealth during the Renaissance period (from the 14th to the middle of the seventeenth century).

Interestingly enough, as there was little opportunity for financial investment, the Renaissance clothing of the ruling classes was not only seen as indication of wealth, but a form of investment. If a family were to require money in the future, the clothing could be resold.The fabrics that the wealthy and their designers favored during the Renaissance were fabrics that were the hardest to produce and therefore the most expensive and exclusive. This included cotton, velvet, silk and brocade. At the time, each of these was labor intensive and/or produced a great distance away from Western Europe, such as in Egypt for cotton. Rich finishes such as ribbons, seed pearls and golden / silver thread were also liberally embroidered on the Renaissance clothing of the day.

During the period Renaissance clothing for women ebbed and flowed from simpler pieces, such as underskirts, bodices and robes, to more complex clothing that included skirts, underskirts, bodices, over-bodices, hoops and collars. Men's Renaissance clothing on the other hand, was often designed to accentuate the body shape, providing them with a more rounded look (along the lines of a barrel). Made out of the same rich colors and fabrics, their renaissance clothing often included padded shoulders and breeches, as well as hats, embellished with the same embroidery and fancy finishes that completed the Renaissance clothing of women.