Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

Elizabethan Era Fashion by Emily, Diana, Beverley

                In English, we have studied a drama named “A Midsummer Nights Dream” written by William Shakespeare. The time he was living in was when Queen Elizabeth the first was in reign  and during that period  the fashion was very different. So we have decided to focus on clothing, laws, shoes, makeup and jewellery.


The clothing in the Elizabethan era is very different from the trends and styles we have nowadays in the 21st century. What a woman chose to wear represented her social status as the more expensive dresses you wore, the higher up in society you were. Most people in this era used fashion and accessories to express themselves. Most woman covered themselves from the neck to their ankles, as showing your legs was seen as being provocative. Ruffles, puffy sleeves and hood like neck lines was the popular style. Also most woman wore very tight corsets to achieve a perfect waistline.


Depending on your class, certain people were only allowed to wear certain materials. According to law only the Duchess, Countesses and Marquises could wear silk, tissue or fur. Also gold or silver dresses were only available to the upper class.


Shoes were not as important as the clothing or makeup. People generally wore shoes or boots made from leather. They were famous for bringing high heels into fashion, from France. The laws of clothing were extended to shoes as well.


Queen Elizabeth the first had a very big influence on what women wore and what they thought was beautiful. Very porcelain skin and light air was the look woman tried to achieve. Women no matter what age had to have the perfect skin, hair, eyes and lips, so women used a mix of vinegar and lead to achieve a pale, white complexion. The makeup they applied was very heavy and lots of layers were applied. Also they would used egg whites and talcum powder to hide wrinkles. Red cheeks and red lips, were also very popular in that era. Most women plucked their eyebrows very thinly but also in a high arched shape and pencilled them in very dark. The makeup they applied was very heavy and lots of layers were applied.

Portrait of a Lady, called Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia by Marcus Geeraerts [Public domain]

Portrait of Elizabeth I as a Princess attributed to William Scrots [Public domain]


The hairstyles today are nothing like what they were in that era. Hairstyles were highly elaborate to try to impress others, a possible husband or wife. If women did not have the right shade of hair, they would just wear a wig. They would even go so far as to shave all their hair off and wear a wig every single day. Women went to great lengths to achieve the perfect look. Also women would try to dye or bleach their hair with their own urine! The wigs that were purchased were very expensive and only rich women could afford them. Young women wore their hair down but once they got married they would mostly wear it up.


Jewellery was the final touch to completing the look. Pendants, pins, watches, rings and earrings were essential. Earrings were worn by both men and women. The jewellery was mostly the same as nowadays except it was only upper class and royalty that could afford to buy and wear them.

We hope that you find all this information interesting, as it has given us a better insight into what the fashion was like back then.


Elizabethan England Life.com (2017). Elizabethan England Life [online]. Available  from http://elizabethanenglandlife.com/clothing-in-elizabethan-england.html

Elizabethan England Life.com (2017). Clothing law for women [online]. Available from http://elizabethanenglandlife.com/elizabethan-era-clothing-law-for-women.html

Elizabethan England Life.com (2017). Elizabethan makeup and beauty [online]. Available from http://elizabethanenglandlife.com/Elizabethan-Make-up.htm

Elizabethan England Life.com (2017). Elizabethan Shoes [online].Available from http://elizabethanenglandlife.com/elizabethan-shoes.html

Beautiful With Brains.com (2008-2017). Makeup [online]. Available from http://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/beauty-history-the-elizabethan-era/

Alcuin, Linda (2012) Jewellery [online]. Available from http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-jewelry.htm

This entry was posted in blogging and tagged 2017-18 S2 bloggers, A midsummer Nights Dream, Elizabethan fashion, Mrs Mitchell, William Shakespeare on April 23, 2018 [https://olhsenglish.wordpress.com/?p=6161] by olhspupil.


16th Century Fashion by Emma and Erin

In our class we are studying Romeo and Juliet and me and my partner have decided to learn more about fashion in the 16th century when William Shakespeare was around. Here are some topics we shall touch on: hats and headdresses, shoes and boots, men (upper class, middle class and peasants), Woman (upper class, middle class and peasants), Fashion icons/ Trend setter, materials and dyes and jewelry.

Hats and headdresses

In the 16th century hats and headdresses were the biggest/grandest ever seen in England. Pupils and scholars were the first to wear bonnets. The most fashionable gentlemen wore bonnets. The french hood is a jeweled hat and covers most of their hair. Neck ruffs were originated in Spain, It frames the face and men also wore them.

Shoes and boots

The 16th century had very extreme and simple footwear. Women had very simple footwear because they wore very long skirts and dresses. No one could see their footwear. Ordinary people would have/wear simple shoes. A type of shoe is duck bills, they were shoes with extremely broad toe. In the early 16th century shoes might have been slashed. Shoes were slashed for decorative purposes.

Men’s fashion

There were upper class, middle class and peasants (or stinkards/groundlings), (what they were called in the 16th century). The upper/middle class men wore: flat caps with feathers, shirt frills(which later became ruffs), Jerkins, doublet sleeves, nether hose, broad toe shoes with slashing, upper hose and cod piece. Peasants would have worn straight or louse fitted trousers that reached mid calf. Men wore many layers of clothing as you can see from our list. The silhouette of a man in the 16th century resembles a square.

Women’s clothing

There are upper/middle class and peasants. The upper/middle class woman wore: parlet, kirtle, smock, corset and long skirts or dresses. Peasant woman would wear: a one piece, a kirtle, sleeveless dress and a gown/overdress. Some upper class woman would hang small sweet-smelling spices on their belts to hide the rotten old smell of the streets. The silhouette of a woman in the 16th century resembles a triangle.

Fashion icons/trend setters

The 16th century had very powerful people who then became everyone’s fashion icons. Here are some trend setters: Queen Elizabeth I is remembered as a fashion icon because of her day to day clothing choices, King Frances I of France became the first true trend setter. The trend setters had set up a foundation for our modern-day styles. Members and monarchs of their court were made better by the trends.

A young Queen Elizabeth I by Percy Anderson [Public domain]

A young Queen Elizabeth I by Percy Anderson [Public domain]

Materials and dyes

Here are some of the most popular fabrics and trims: linen, silk, velvet, leather, lace and they used gold and silver for embroidery/trims. Buttons were only worn by the rich. They were made with gold and silver sometimes had a setting of gemstones. Wool was worn by everyone. The most expensive dyes were: bright red , purple and indigo.


Pendant by shakko [Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0]


Many women wore jewelry to make an outfit original and more them. It was very popular in the 16th century. Rich people would have better quality jewelry than others.

As you can see fashion in the 16th century was very elaborate. It was also much more complex than present day fashion.




Fashion through the ages Shoes and boots by Fiona MacDonald (ticktock media LTD, 2006)

Fashion through the ages Hats and headdresses  by Fiona MacDonald (ticktock media LTD, 2006)

Panorama a history of fashion from loincloths to Lycra by Jacqueline Morley (MacDonald, 1995)

Sixteenth-Century Clothing, http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/European-Culture-16th-Century/Sixteenth-Century-Clothing.html accessed 02/10/16

Women’s Clothing, http://www.lepg.org/women.htm accessed 02/10/16

Mens Clothing, http://www.lepg.org/men.htm accessed 05/10/16

16th Century Fashion, http://mens-fashion.lovetoknow.com/16th_Century_Fashion accessed 05/10/16