What Was Clothing Like in Elizabethan Times?

What Was Clothing Like in Elizabethan Times?

Elizabethan clothes were highly varied depending on social status and individual taste, but they were unified in their bright colors, excessive amounts of padding and erasure of the human silhouette. Women dyed their hair, and both genders piled their hair on top of their heads, sometimes covering it in jewels.

Elizabethan fashion is remembered chiefly for the large ruff that came to symbolize the tastes of the era. Made of linen, decorated in silver and gold as well as occasionally with jewels, the ruff was initially worn by men but quickly adopted by women, eventually spreading through the social classes in various forms.

The preferred silhouette for women was wide and round, accomplished through wire and bone frames that were laid beneath elaborate dresses. As a result, their dresses were filled with sharp angles and straight lines. Men created similar silhouettes by padding their clothing with wool, hair, rags and bran.

Outdoors, many women wore masks made of silk. Black was a popular choice but masks came in any variety of colors. They did not wear hats or hoods. Men donned hats, usually made of velvet and decorated with feathers, occasionally garnished further with jewels or mirrors.

Giant hair was extremely fashionable, especially among the elite. Both men and women collected wigs, with Queen Elizabeth at one point possessing a collection of 80 hairpieces.