The period, 1550-1600 in western fashion has its significance for increased lavishness, the growth of the ruff, the spreading out of the farthingale for women, and for men, the vanishing of the codpiece.
The Spanish style was seen to dominate most of the regions except France and Italy. On formal occasions people used to wear black garments. The normal trend towards plentiful surface adornment during the Elizabethan Era was reflected on dressing, particularly among the upper classes in England: Shirts and chemises were designed with embroidery, blockwork and with lace at the edges. Heavy cut velvets and brocades were decorated further with bobbin lace, gold and silver embroidery, and gems. Multicolored silk embroidery was considered to be the latest fashion trend towards the end of the period.
Leather and fabric garments were ornamented by cutting the fabric in regular patterns. The dresses were tied with buttons or fastened with cord or ribbon points. Wealthy people were using buttons made of silver or gold and gemstones were set inside.
During 1550-1600, men’s clothing included the following stuff:
The outerwear of men during that period consisted of short-length cloaks or capes with sleeves. Sometimes a military jacket was also considered as a fashionable wear. To protect themselves from cold weather, people wore long cloaks. In this period, gowns turned out to be traditional clothes of some specific people such as scholars.
Women during 1550-1600 periods gave more emphasis on high or wide shoulders. Italian dresses seen with cut upper sleeves with puff of the chemise dragged through during 1560s, developed into single or double rows of loops at the shoulder with complementary lining.
Bodices were high-necked with low, square neckline, frequently with a trivial arch at the obverse early in the era. Sometimes bodices were fixed firmly with hooks in front and sometimes they were laced at the side-back seam. Bodices with high neck designed like men’s doublets might be tied with hooks or buttons.
Different styles of gowns frequently lined with fur were worn as an added layer indoors and out all over the period.
The skirts had a cut at front portion so that the affluent petticoat would be displayed. This fashion was seen to be continued till 1580s.
Linen chemise or smock, linen drawers were among the underwear worn during the period.
The outerwear of women during the period consisted of brawny overskirts known as safeguards over their gowns. They wore this outwear especially while going on a ride and travelling on dirty roads. In bad weather women were seen wearing hooded cloaks.
As per the pictures and monuments available, a table servant during 1550-1600 period, has been seen wearing pluderhosen with full, drooping linings. Working women, in this period, used to wear a front-lacing brown gown, a gown with a complementary lining inserted into the belt, a gown laced over a kirtle with a cut at the front. People while gardening were seen wearing cotes with full skirts, hose, hats, and low shoes.
In the beginning of this period, hair was divided into two parts in the center and plumped up over the temples. Then the front hair was arched and puffed high over the brow. To extend the hair women also used wigs and false hair.
Married women used to pin up and cover their hair. In some parts of the western countries, a fitting linen cap known as coif was worn.
In a significant development in fashion, women during this period started to wear hats similar to those used by men.
Men’s hair was normally short in length. It was brushed back from the forehead. It was during 1580s, when longer style hair came into fashion. During 1590s, it was fashionable for young men to wear a lovelock i.e.a long segment of hair hanging over one side of shoulder.
Men were also using different styles of caps during the period.