Hello darling! If you saw my last post, you hopefully have realized I have started a mini series about renaissance fashion. My last post was showcasing high end fashion designers using tools from the renaissance into 21st century ready to wear fashion. Sometimes it is very hard to wear runway clothing, imitate runway clothing, or even find runway clothing for a budget you can afford. So, to make it a little bit easier for you, I’m showing a few trends that have been around in the 21st century that imitate the fashion trends in the renaissance period.
During the renaissance, most dresses had attachable sleeves that were attached to the bodice by points or small ties. Many of the sleeves were different styles such as formfitting, puffy, and bellowed out sleeves. Some were decorated with ribbons, bows, lace, pearls, and other jewels. Usually sleeves ended with a cuff, but occasionally the sleeves would be exaggerated at the wrist.
I was very surprised at this trend coming back into the fashion world. These statement sleeves were all over the fall runway in New York last fall. This trend continues to thrive as fashion sleeves were in many stores this past summer and are still in stores as we head into the colder months. I have yet to try this trend, but I’m incredibly intrigued.
Ruff or Statement Necklaces
An accessory typically worn by children, men, and women during the renaissance period was a ruff. It was a white ruffled fabric made out of starched linen cambric and mixed with lace and was worn around the neck of a person. Since lace was a new textile and was incredibly time consuming to make, this garnet was usually worn by the higher class in the sixteenth century. The quality of the linen was incredibly different from out linen today because of the amount of thread used. For example, one ruff had a thread count of fifty threads to one centimeter. Sometimes people would wear huge necklaces underneath the ruff as seen in the second picture.
According to Encyclopedia of Fashion, the ruffs were a highly controversial accessory by the Protestants. They said that ruffs were “restricted movement considerably, and those who wore wide ruffs often had to eat with special long utensils so that they could reach their mouths.” I couldn’t imagine not being able to eat because I live, breathe, and die for fashion that much. It eventually got the point where in 1580 Queen Elizabeth I passed a law that limited the size of the ruff worn by people who were not associated with the court. However, these sumptuary laws did not really have much effect as there were many laws about clothing.
To mimic the idea of a ruff in today’s fashion you can easily throw on a big statement necklace or choker. If you scroll on Pinterest, you’ll see endless ideas on how to wear statement necklaces over any type of outfit. These statement necklaces can be layered over everything such as a plain shirt, graphic shirt, a dress, or underneath a collar. This is a trend that will never really go out of style because it looks so effortlessly put together. You simply throw on a big necklace and you’re good to go. A new trend that is starting to emerge from the cracks is a choker necklace. This one is every closer to the ruff because it is so closely tied to the neck.
Maxi Dresses and Skirts
When one thinks of the renaissance period, he or she usually thinks of the intense full skirts. These skirts were given their shape through farthingales. Farthingales are hoops made out of cane, bone, or wood that are attached under the skirt and above a women’s butt. I couldn’t imagine walking around with a big thing attached to my butt.
Although we don’t wear farthingales underneath are skirts anymore, we continue to wear maxi dresses and skirts. These dresses and skirts continue to be present in our society because they’re incredibly comfy to wear. They’re probably one of the comfiest things to wear because they feel like yoga pants but look as if you worked really hard on your outfit. The 21st century fashion has the idea of making women look as small as possible which means women don’t wear these puffy dresses as they did in the renaissance. Despite this, these maxi dresses still give the allusion of elegance as the puffy dresses did in the renaissance.
Corset or Waist Trainers.
During the renaissance, many women tried to imitate Queen Elizabeth’s small frame. In order to replicate her small torso they would use corsets that would flatten their stomach and breasts. Like us, people who lived in the renaissance were fixated on the idea of having a voluptuous butt and a small waist.
This trend one is foreign to me, but if you ever look at the Kardashians for inspiration they definitely have this trend down. If you scroll on Instagram you’re bound to find at least one ad for a waist trainer. They have become more and more apparent in our culture as we have become fixated on having the hourglass figure. Through the attention the Kardashians receive through their voluptuous butts we can see that this trend has not changed just the subtraction of the wheel farthingale. It is interesting because in the renaissance period there were many critiques about the exaggeration of the body shape. John Bulwer criticized the wheel farthingale “because it greatly exaggerated a woman’s hips.” Others agreed with him because they thought the purpose of clothing was to “cover nakedness, not to alter or glorify the body.” In our society we have that same critique about plastic surgery and waist trainers that force and adapt your body to look a certain way. History does seem to have a way of repeating itself.
Velvet and Lace.
Velvet and lace were used by the wealthy class as well as other rich materials such as taffeta, silk, and buckram. Lace was used as a form of embroidery like other materials such as ribbons, braids, fringes, pearls, and jewels. All of these materials are used still in our culture as are still pretty expensive. Since lace was a new found textile in the early 16th century, it was a very expensive textile and was typically only worn by rich people who could afford it.
In today’s society, velvet is usually associated with winter wardrobes and holiday outfits. Velvet is a great textile to wear in the winter months because of how warm it is. It is also a different texture you can add to an outfit to make it more interesting. As for lace, we often see it being used for weddings, formal events, and the occasional causal shirt. Whenever I have the chance to wear lace, I do. It is one those textures that instantly makes your outfit more sophisticated and romantic.
1560s – Isabel Valois
What reoccurring trend have you tried? Is there one that you’ll never try? I’ll be trying statement sleeves for the first time in my next post so be sure to check it out.