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Men's Fashions of the Renaissance Era

Men's Fashions of the Renaissance Era

Renaissance Fashion is marked by voluminous clothing worn in an abundance of layers (one reaction to the cooling temperatures of the Little Ice Age, especially in Northern Europe and the British Isles). Contrasting fabrics, slashes, embroidery, applied trims, and other forms of surface ornamentation became prominent.


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Anastasia Romanova

Anastasia Romanova

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In the early Renaissance, the look of the day was to wear padded clothing that changed the shape of the body. Thus, when they first came into style, doublets were made to give the wearer a puffed-up “pigeon-breasted” outline. The saying is true: Birds of a fancy feather flock to the runway together.

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The fashion in this period was inclined towards the opulent designs as well as the simplistic forms. This was the period that saw the lavish use of silks and furs! [...] Renaissance clothing for men began with the rich and opulent look. This was evident during the European Renaissance. From the rich and extravagant, this trend moved on to creating a wider look for men. Men wore coats and outfits that gave the silhouette a square look. This was created with the help of shoulder pads, which were used to widen the shoulders for men.

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Source: Buzzle

Around the 1490's is when costume historians can agree that the new dress for Renaissance began. This was the period of clothing that could be said that excessiveness in all areas of costume began. Different countries took the news styles differently. For instance, the northern European countries were distorting the natural figure by padding sleeves, doublets and stockings. Italy did not go as far as the North, and England and France followed Italy's lead while they stuck to more medieval influenced styles. Germans went to the greatest extremes making “improvements” on the natural silhouette. They put large puffs at the head, shoulders, thighs; small puffs, like boils, over chest, back, arms, legs and feet. They put feathers on many on everything from wide-brimmed hats to the knees. Clothing at this time followed suit with all other types of creative expression at this time—it went over the top into new discoveries. Permanent characteristics in all countries are summarized as thus: rich heavy materials, in voluminous amount, large sleeves, close body garments, large hip-clothing, wide-toed, heelless shoes and covered heads masculine and feminine.

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Source: Central Washington Univer...

The Church condemned people that focused on fashion, accusing them of being guilty of vanity and this label was loosely applied to virtually anyone that wore newer fashions of clothes because they were segregating themselves away from those that were wearing clothes that were out of date. Preachers felt as though it was quite dangerous that people had the ability to manipulate distinction in society, merely be a garment. Laws were creating in the early Renaissance to put a control on Renaissance clothing. Renaissance clothing laws were derived after the Black Plague had subsided and aristocracy was attempting to stabilize their positions in society. Laws now dictated the regulations in the colors, cuts and materials of clothing of this era.

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Footwear. Footwear was an essential piece of Renaissance clothing for men at the time and shoes were pointed, long and typically used only indoors. Clogs made of leather with wooden soles were used for combating outdoor weather and towards the end of the period, these shoes became more comfortable and resembled slippers.
Hats. Hats were essential to Renaissance clothing and completed a man’s outfit. Eventually, hats turned into berets with brims and were made from cloth, beaver, felt or velvet.
Hose. Hose were originally worn by laborers, but quickly spread to other classes of the Renaissance period. They were tied to the doublet and sewed together at the crotch and very tight fitting. These proved not to be the most comfortable piece of Renaissance men’s clothing, as they were almost to the point of cutting off circulation.

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Source: Made Man

Men’s clothing began with accentuating the shoulders and chest. They wore tunics and doublets reaching the knee, belted at the waist and stuffed in the chest and upper sleeves. Usually jerkins, often fur-lined, were worn over. Flat, wide hats were worn. Shirts were cut full and gathered at the wrists and necks. However, by the end of the period, short, pumpkin-shaped trunk hose were worn with tight hose to show off a man’s legs and men began wearing corsets to slim the torso. They also acquired the v-shaped waistline as women did. Peascod-belly doublets became popular, as well as leg-of-mutton sleeves, short capes, and more vertical caps often decorated with feathers. Ruffs and matching cuffs were essential.

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The Renaissance period experienced several variations of men's fashions by region and decade, as this period encompasses about 150 years. Clothing worn by men during the Italian Renaissance is quite different than the Elizabethan man. During this period clothing was often a status symbol of wealth (or lack of) and as a result men's fashions were often quite elaborate with trimmings, frills and lace. Common ensembles for men consisted of trunk hose, breeches (which ranged from very short 'pumpkin slops' to longer knee length breeches), tunic, jerkin, doublet and a surcoat or cape. Some of men's fashions followed trends common in women's fashions of the time such as the large lace neck ruff collars, 'slashing' fabric and making use of beautiful rich brocade, silk and velvet fabrics.

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Source: Fashions of the Ages

Instead of trousers as we are used to them today, men would wear hose on their legs. The upper hose were (often poufy) knee-length trousers which were met by the nether hose, or stockings, on the lower leg. In the reign of Henry VIII, doublets became shorter, creating a space between the upper hose and the doublet. In order to preserve modesty, the cod piece became popular again, having been around since the middle ages. The cod piece was originally a cloth or animal skin pocket in the from of hose or trouser, but were now made from various materials, and often padded or used for storage - Henry VIII used his codpiece to store money. Once more, these additions to the outfit would be more common in an upper class individual or person at court than the average Englishman (Kosir).

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Because the Renaissance era encompasses approximately 150 years of history, its fashions changed dramatically from beginning to end. At the dawn of the Renaissance in 1450, clothing styles were influenced by Medieval and Gothic designs, as well as the Italian Renaissance movement in art. [...] In men's fashions, doublets shortened and low-necked tunics and chemises became common garb. Hose became a common necessity for the well-dressed gentleman. Brocades and velvets were among the favored fabrics for both men's and women's clothing. [...] After the turn of the 15th century, Renaissance fashions began to follow German styles. The simple, natural styles of the early period were replaced with horizontal, massive styles. Men's fashions became square in cut and elaborately trimmed. Breeches were lengthened, and linen chemises were decorated with lace edges and frills at the neck and sleeves.

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Source: Eras of Elegance

The Renaissance period, which began around the year 1400 in Italy, continued through the 1500s. During that time, Europe made the transition from the plague-ridden medieval world into a more modern and affluent era. The ravages of the Black Death had reduced the populations of most parts of Europe drastically. The surviving gentry tended to have a worldly, luxury-seeking attitude. Renaissance fashions at first retained many Gothic-era features. […] Men still wore houppelandes over short jackets and long, often multicolor hose, and sported long, pointed shoes and fancy turbans.

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