What Clothes Did the Poor Wear in Elizabethan Times?
The poor, or lower class, in Elizabethan times did not have specific fashion trends. Poor people wore whatever clothing they could make from inexpensive materials such as cotton and wool. Men of the times usually wore breeches, underclothing, hats and doublets. Women generally wore gowns with corsets underneath.
Lower class women wore their hair in a long braid and curled it around on top of their head. Men of all classes had beards and wore hats. Wool clothing was popular among the lower class because it was cheap and accessible. The lower class wore fewer layers than the upper class because they could not afford much clothing.
Clothing was an important indication of social order. The Sumptuary Laws put in place by the monarchy governed the way people dressed. Lower classes were not allowed to wear silk, velvet or satin or any clothing that resembled the luxurious upper class fashions. Only nobles could wear ermine fur. Fashion was meant to show one’s social and financial status. People wore extravagant outfits to show that they could afford to do so. Clothing color also showed class status and differentiated between the classes. Lower class clothing was typically orange, green, pale pink or yellow.