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Essay: Renaissance fashion

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  • Published: 12 October 2015*
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The Gothic style came after the Romanesque period and was in turn succeeded by the Renaissance. It reached its highest artistic (challenging things accomplished or completed) in Northern and Western Europe from the mid-12th century until as late as the end of the 15th century. In the 15th century, man hoped to (bring back to life) the classical age, they had the idea of a rebirth or renewal. The (in-between/helping) period was called a Middle Age, and we still use this term today. Fashion in 15th century Europe is seen as a series of extremes and (rich, fancy things), from the (huge size/huge numbers) gowns called houppelandes with their sweeping floor-length sleeves to the interesting/sexy-looking doublets and hose of Renaissance Italy. Hats, hoods, and other headdresses assumed increasing importance, and were swagged, draped, jewelled, and feathered.
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned about the 14th through the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. It included the (coming back to life or popularity after a long time) of learning based on classical sources, the rise of polite and (related to the office and rule of the Pope) (the money, and other help, given to a person or organization), the development of (way of seeing things / sensible view of what is and is not important) in painting, and (times of moving ahead or up) in science. The Renaissance had wide-ranging results in all thinking-related pursuits, but is maybe best known for its artistic aspect and the (things that are given/work that’s done) of such very intelligent, widely educated persons as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who have motivated/brought about the term “Renaissance men”.
With the increased variety of dressing styles, words/word choices for items of clothing in these early periods grows more complicated and confusing. Names for articles of clothing often come directly from French. Often English-speaking costume history experts adopt these French terms. This is especially obvious when costume history experts write about (very old time in history) styles of the thirteenth century and after. From this time on, the under tunic was usually called a cote; the outer tunic, a surcote, a word that has gained English usage.
The layering remained the same as in earlier centuries and undergarments did not change totally, but the cut and fit of outer articles of clothing has started to change with greater frequency. Also, some new outdoor articles of clothing appeared. These included the garnache, “a long coat with capelike sleeves,” the herigaut or gardecorps, “a coat with long, wide sleeves having a slit below the shoulder through which the arm could be slipped,” and the chaperon, “a hood cut and sewn to a chape” [cape] (Tortora and Eubank 1998).
The influence of important people on style is obvious. The rule (1226-1270) of the religious King Louis IX of France happened along with a turn toward looser fitting, more modest, and less showy dress.
Around the middle of the fourteenth century, a wider range of types of dress appeared. At the same time, dress for men and women started to diverge, length of skirt being a major difference. Men of all classes now wore short skirts. One important short-skirted article of clothing was the cotehardie. The exact features of this article of clothing seem to have varied from country to country, and it was probably a version of the surcote. The Cunningtons, writing about English costume, define the term as an article of clothing with a front-buttoned, low-waisted, fitted (part of a dress above the waist) with fitted sleeves that ended at the elbow in front and had a hanging flap at the back, with the (part of a dress above the waist) attaching to a short skirt (1952).
Under this article of clothing, men wore an article of clothing differently called a pourpoint, gipon, or doublet. In commenting on problems of words/word choices, Newton observes, “It is doubtful whether at any one time the exact differences between an aketon, a pourpoint, a doublet, a courtpiece, and a jupon were completely and totally defined. In France the cotehardie comes into this category, and in England, from the early 1360s, the paltok” (1980). Probably adopted for (non-military related) wear from a padded military article of clothing, the pourpoint (later more likely to be called a doublet) attached to hose with laces that had sharp metal tips known as “points.”
This combination might be worn alone or under an outer article of clothing. Hose were worn either with shoes or boots or had leather soles and needed/demanded no shoes. Shoes often had very long, pointed toes and were called poulaines or crackowes, which may say in court/give proof to a possible origin in Poland. Upper-class men wore the most extreme of these styles and in that way showed that they did not need to do any hard labor.
The houppelande was another important article of clothing that appeared about 1360. Made in either thigh or mid-calf length or long, it was fitted over the shoulders, then fell in deep, tubular folds and was belted at the waist. Sleeves could be quite describe in detail, sometimes long and full and gathered in at the wrist or widening at the end and falling to the floor. Fur trim was common.
Although women were wearing houppelandes by the end of the fourteenth century, they were more common in the fifteenth century. Other styles for women included close-fitting gowns, sometimes with either sleeved or sleeveless surcotes. Certain articles of clothing were visual statements of status. French queens and princesses wore surcotes cut low at the neck, with huge armhole openings through which a fitted gown could be seen, and a hip-length stiffened panel with a row of jeweled pieces of jewelry down the front. A full skirt was attached to the panel.
The (something forced on people/an inconvenient situation) of money-spending laws (limits placed on spending for (diamonds, boats, fur coats, etc.)) on dress point to/show that the elite classes feared that the lower classes were trying to forcefully take their status symbols. Beautiful dress had become low-priced to more people, and law-makers tried to restrict by rank the types of fur used, the types and amounts of fabric, kinds of trimmings, and even the length of the points of shoes. These laws were not exactly follow (orders)ed and rarely enforced.
During the fifteenth century, styles constantly changed (and got better). Men’s doublets grew shorter and hose longer, looking much like modern tights. A new construction feature, the codpiece-a pouch of fabric closed with laces- allowed room for the (sex organs). Houppelandes went through some changes in style and construction, becoming more detailed in trimming and sleeve construction. A short, broad-shouldered article of clothing, sometimes called a jacket, had a political helperd skirt that flared out from the waist.
Women wore houppelandes and fitted gowns. One style appears so often in art that it has become almost a (prejudiced mental picture) for modern illustrators who want to show (very old time in history) princesses. This gown had fitted sleeves, a deep V-neck with a (not showing off/not acting proud/not showing lots of skin) piece filling in the V, an (a) little high waistline with a wide belt, and a long, trained skirt. Another style seen in Northern European art is a loose-fitting gown with close-fitting sleeves, a round neckline, and fullness falling from gathers at the center front. Some sources call this gown a roc.
In the earlier centuries, (very old time in history) head coverings were relatively simple: covers that covered their hair for adult women and hoods or small caps like modern baby bonnets, called coifs, that tied under the chin for men. By the fifteenth century, upper-class men and women were wearing many beautiful/imaginary styles. Men’s hoods were wrapped turbanlike around the head, sometimes made with wide, padded brims. The number of turbans may reflect contacts with the Orient. Hats with high crowns and with small brims looked like a loaf of sugar and were called sugar loaf hats. Adult women’s hair was still covered, but coverings were often of decorative net fabrics, padded rolls, or tall, flat or pointed, structures. Lightweight, sheer covers were often attached.
Other (added or extra things/people or things that help) included purses, belts, and jewelry. Belts were often a mark of status, being highly decorated and jeweled.
Renaissance fashion and costumes mirrored the advancing culture, as increasing trade made more clothing materials available. Nobility dressed themselves in describe in detail and brightly colored robes, gowns and other clothing. The upper class reserved silk for themselves, and in some areas, poor people were forbidden to possess it. (sewing patterns of thread on fabric) of gold and silver thread would be sewn to form beautiful/imaginary designs showing scences from old stories/famous people, nature or religion. Those living during the Renaissance would decorate themselves in jewelry, furs, and describe in detail belts. Wigs created from poor (person)’s hair was also very popular.
Fashion represented a big status symbol during the Renaissance. The rich were literally “wearing their wealth” as the expensive clothing helped establish a reputation of wealth for the owner. It was usually the rich or ruling class that drove Renaissance fashion. However, one very popular fashion trend, the way of doing things of “deeply cutting” was started within the lower classes or plain, regular people. The round, soft hat was also invented during these times. They were highly decorated by either jewels or (sewing patterns of thread on fabric).

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