In looking at the Renaissance era, the common association is a time of grandeur, rich art, and elegant fashion. While this was true, it is often overlooked that this period was also a time of cruelty, disease, and poverty. In fact, massive devastation was responsible for giving birth to the Renaissance. As cities grew through Europe, a strong middle class had developed by the end of the Middle Ages which gave way to the early Renaissance.
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As a result of the dominant middle class, Renaissance fashion was something that became accessible to everyone. As with other societies, clothing was a sign of social status. However, the Church frowned upon being consumed with fashion during this era, as it was seen as vain and those that wore the latest fashions were looked down upon for segregating themselves from others. Preachers felt it was dangerous to manipulate societal distinction by a mere article of clothing. In turn, laws were put into place in the early Renaissance to control clothing and to maintain balance. These laws regulated clothing colors, cuts, and materials.
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In Renaissance fashion, colors had different meanings. Green represented love, gray indicated sorrow, yellow meant hospitality, red stood for nobility, black was for lower class, and blue was identified with loyalty (and it also was identified with adultery in some places). These clothing colors were to be worn at specific times for specific occasions.
Prime influences on Renaissance apparel came from German and Italian designers, who brought their own flair to style. For women’s fashion, noble ladies were often trendsetters with elaborately decorated dresses and fur coats. Both men and women added ruffs to their neck or a stand up collar. Padded buttons also became common. Other fashionable pieces emerging during the Renaissance era included the beret.
Renaissance Woman Complete Costume:
The wealthy class was permitted to wear several colors on their garments, but a law was passed that restricted the lower class to wearing only one color, which was unpopular. In protest of this edict, the lower class invented the “slashing” technique. This was done by assembling two layers of fabric together and slashing the outer layer, to allow the inner layer to be seen, adding dimension. The slashing technique grew in popularity and eventually became the norm for garments.
Although fashion has drastically changed through the ages, marks of Renaissance fashion remain. Clothing still is indicative of status, colors still have meanings, and the slashing technique is still used by designers of today. To see our assortment of Renaissance clothing, go to: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/