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fashion history renaissance, 1450–1900

by zabaish
fashion history renaissance

Fashion History Renaissance. The movements and styles that traced their origins to antiquity and became known were most prevalent in the Mediterranean and subsequently extended throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Fashion history Renaissance

The Renaissance is commonly believed to have started in Northern Europe in the 1500s. However, it started in Italy as early as the 1300s, thanks to Giotto’s magnificent murals and the emergence of old knowledge in academia.

In (art) historical research, the division of time into periods is disputed because time is fluid. Generally speaking, nevertheless, it is agreed that the Renaissance began in Northern Europe around 1500 and in Southern Europe around 1450.

fashion history renaissance
fashion history renaissance

It was a golden period of culture, characterized by growing manufacturing, support of the arts, scientific advancement, and increased riches via global banking and textile networks. Renowned for their wealth in banking and textile commerce, the Medici family controlled Florence, a key center of Renaissance activity.

Several Italian artists from that era remain incredibly well-known today, like Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, and Fillipo Lippi. Domenico Ghirlandaio is a lesser-known but incredibly influential artist who depicts situations from daily life in his paintings.

Similar to clothing from all other times, Renaissance clothing is intricate and very variable based on the wearer’s social standing, financial situation, and place of residence. Regardless of how or how little these outer layers were embellished, beneath them all was a linen shift. The materials used to make outerwear were essentially the same as in the Middle Ages: natural fibers like silk, wool, and linen. Gowns now include a waist seam that separates the bodice and skirt portions of their structure rather than being cut in one piece.

The majority of women’s dresses are floor-length with voluminous skirts. Generally speaking, sleeves are removable so that they may be switched out for different outfits. This implied that there was 1) a chance to mix things up with one’s wardrobe and 2) a possibility to cut costs by owning fewer sleeve pairs than gowns.

Throughout the Renaissance, households may have spent up to 25% of their yearly income on clothing and tailoring services, since clothing was still quite valuable. Families had expert needleworkers, but clothes were usually ordered from specialized dressmakers rather than manufactured at home.


1. Venice:

These two Venetian ladies wear extremely high-waisted, beautiful gowns. Pearls are sewn across the low necklines of the two, who appear to be rich. The woman in yellow has a large pear necklace, while the other wears a thick silver necklace.

The woman is playing with a puppy, her hem is adorned with a golden braid, and her sleeves are wrought with gold thread. The woman in yellow has braiding with silver sawtooths edging her hem. They engage in the slicing trend, with large cutouts on the sleeves that reveal a puffy undergarment.

This image features three styles of slashing: tiny cuts in the yellow woman’s bodice, large circular cutouts in her sleeves, and, finally, the ladies’ sleeves in the foreground, which resemble merely a quarter of a sleeve with ribbons binding the edges together.

2. Florence, 1550s:

Cosimo I de’Medici’s wife was Eleanor de Toledo, also known as Eleonora di Toledo in Italian. She was born in Toledo, a province in central Spain, as her name would imply. She brought a sizable dowry when she married the future Florence king in 1539 when she was just 17 years old.

The Viceroy of Spain, her father, had made fruitless attempts to get Cosimo to marry the older daughter, who possessed more money. But Cosimo had his sights set on the younger Eleonora, whom he had seen a while before and found attractive. He reportedly stayed true to her for the duration of their marriage.


A fan was a common summertime adornment for Italian women to keep cool. They utilized a flag or weathervane fan because folding fans had not yet been created. These flag fans are made up of a stiff textile, a turntable flag, and a handle made of wood, ebony, gold, or silver.

fashion history renaissance
fashion history renaissance

The fan would spin and provide cool air when one made rotating movements with the hand. Feather fans were also used, as evidenced by the previously mentioned Pieter de Kempeneer painting Muffs were worn to shield the hands from the bitter cold of winter. Typically, they were lined with fur and constructed of black velvet or silk that was embroidered.


Usually, the women’s delicate shoes were covered by bulky floor-length skirts During the Renaissance, high heels gained popularity. Caterina de Medici, the Princess of Urbino, traveled from Italy to France in 1533 to wed the Duke of Orleans.

She wore high heels to make herself appear taller, and other French Court females quickly adopted this look (the Italian heel). The women then wore shoes with heels that were higher than 10 cm (8 inches), which were very comparable to modern stilettos.

Women typically wore delicate footwear that suited their feet. However, the cow-mouth shoe that had become popular at the end of the Middle Ages was still in style.

Another type of footwear emerged at the end of the 15th century, known as the Chopines. The patterns were the source of those platform shoes. The Chopines had cork soles that were trimmed with fabric, reaching up to 75cm (about 30 inches) in height at their peak.


Because a high forehead was viewed as a sign of caution, people shaved or plucked their front hair. As a result, the hairline moved a few centimeters up the forehead. Women with darker hair were drawn to the outdoors to let their hair bleach in the sun because fair hair was viewed as a desirable feature.


fashion history renaissance
fashion history renaissance

Braids are arranged in a plethora of different methods and styles in Renaissance portraiture. Often, hair pieces had to be added because the natural hair was insufficient for the elaborate hairstyles. Young, single women and girls wore their hair tied up or draped carelessly over their shoulders in ribbon braids or twists.

Thanks to iron hair curlers that were heated in a fire, curly hair became incredibly popular. The Balzo was an elaborate headdress that originated in Italy in the early 15th century.

It resembled a turban or a big circle or half-moon encircling the head. It was wrapped in fur, pearls, braid, and priceless textiles. It was constructed of wire, cushioning, and sturdy linen similar to buckram.

A hairnet made of pearls and gold can be worn on the hand to complement the “Saxon gown.” The other option is a fantastic red cloth cap known as a Barett (similar to a men’s cap).
Eleanor de Toledo covers her hair with a pearl- or gemstone-encrusted hairnet. Hairnets, or sheer hair bags, were important components of headwear during the Renaissance. On the one hand, they kept the hair coiled or at least fairly covered (the hairbag). They continued to adorn themselves.

As a result, hairnets, in particular, used to be embellished with pearls, gemstones, and thread made of silver or gold. An alternative is a hairnet or bag that rests behind the head and is fastened to the forehead with a band or ribbon. This has a lengthy artificial plait attached to it that is wrapped in cloth and braided.


Aside from the fashionable element, the middle class and the nobility both used jewelry to demonstrate their affluence. Many people wore rings on each hand because they were so fashionable.

fashion history renaissance
fashion history renaissance

Surprisingly, when you examine several Renaissance images, you will notice that the people in them are wearing rings on both their second and third phalanges, in addition to their phalanx. In the meantime, the “Midi-rings” are seeing a comeback in popularity.

The “marriage pendant” is an intriguing item. The two stones in this gold pendant were a red one (perhaps a ruby on the bottom) and a blue one (likely a diamond on top).

Baroque Era (1604-1682):

Under the rule of Louis XIV, the Sun King, the Baroque era in clothing history started in Italy and eventually extended throughout the rest of Europe. This era introduced collars made of linen or ruffled lace.

Sleeves were frequently divided to reveal the chemise or undershirt material underneath the outer garment, and they stopped at the elbow to reveal the forearm.

Men wore doublets and practical leather coats called “jerkins,” while wide, knee-length dresses called “petticoat breeches,” embellished with bows and ribbons, took the place of hose.

Georgian Era (1714-1830):

Before the French Revolution, the most expensive and exquisitely tailored clothes worn by Marie Antoinette and her court are the epitome of Georgian fashion. Lace, silk brocades, high heels, and very tall powdered wigs were all favorites of both sexes.

Women wore structural side hoops, or panniers, underneath dresses to lengthen their shapes. Men wore simple jackets with curved tails and long pants that fit them tight.

Classical Greek design served as an inspiration for clothing styles that were draped over the body and did not use corsets after the French Revolution.

Victorian Era (1837–1901):

Women’s clothing was light-colored and straightforward in the early Victorian era, with broad “mutton leg” sleeves. The chemise, corset, and petticoat were considered standard undergarments.

During this time, an early form of the t-shirt or undershirt was created. Gloves, cameo brooches, and bonnets were popular accessories. Wide sleeves gave way to long, fitting sleeves by the middle of the 19th century, and then to “bell” sleeves.

Necklines grew in proportion to the era’s humility. Ladies and gentlemen dressed in loose-fitting, casual “sack coats” during the day and in a waistcoat or frockcoat with a top hat at night.

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