Wikipedia summarizes fashion of the 1500-1550, writing:

“Fashion in the period 1500–1550 in Western Europe is marked by voluminous clothing worn in an abundance of layers (one reaction to the cooling temperatures of the Little Ice Age, especially in Northern Europe and the British Isles). Contrasting fabrics, slashes, embroidery, applied trims, and other forms of surface ornamentation became prominent. The tall, narrow lines of the late Medieval period were replaced with a wide silhouette, conical for women with breadth at the hips and broadly square for men with width at the shoulders. Sleeves were a center of attention, and were puffed, slashed, cuffed, and turned back to reveal contrasting linings.”

Wikipedia further elaborates:

“Women’s fashions of the earlier 16th century consisted of a long gown, usually with sleeves, worn over a kirtle or undergown, with a linen chemise or smockworn next to the skin.

The high-waisted gown of the late medieval period evolved in several directions in different parts of Europe. In the German states and Bohemia, gowns remained short-waisted, tight-laced but without corsets. The open-fronted gown laced over the kirtle or a stomacher or plackard. Sleeves were puffed and slashed, or elaborately cuffed.

In France, England, and Flanders, the high waistline gradually descended to the natural waist in front (following Spanish fashion) and then to a V-shaped point. Cuffs grew larger and were elaborately trimmed.

Hoop skirts or farthingales had appeared in Spain at the very end of the 15th century, and spread to England and France over the next few decades. Corsets(called a pair of bodies) also appeared during this period.

A variety of hats, caps, hoods, hair nets, and other headresses were worn, with strong regional variations.

Shoes were flat, with broad square toes.”

Master of the Grootean Adoration, Triptych, Detail

Fig. 1 - Artist unknown (Flemish, 1510). Master of the Grootean Adoration, Triptych, Detail, 1516 - 1619. Private Collection. Source: Pinterest

Duchess Katharina von Mecklenburg

Fig. 2 - Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 1472–1553). Duchess Katharina von Mecklenburg, 1514. Oil on canvas; 184.4 x 83 cm. Dresden: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. Source: Wikimedia

Lady with a Basket of Spindles

Fig. 3 - Pontormo (Italian, 1494-1557). Lady with a Basket of Spindles, 1516. Oil on panel; 76 × 54 cm (29.9 × 21.3 in). Florence: Uffizi Gallery. Source: Wikimedia

Porträt der Johanna von Aragon

Fig. 4 - Raphael (Italian, 1483–1520). Porträt der Johanna von Aragon, 1518. Oil on canvas; 120 × 95 cm (47.2 × 37.4 in). Paris: Louvre Museum, INV 612. Source: Wikimedia

Portrait of a Woman

Fig. 5 - Bernhard Strigel (German, 1460–1528). Portrait of a Woman, ca. 1510–15. Oil on linden; 38.4 x 26.7 cm (15 1/8 x 10 1/2 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 71.34. Purchase, 1871. Source: The Met


Wikipedia writes of menswear in this period:

“Early in this period, men’s silhouette was long and narrow, but gradually it grew wider until by the later reign of Henry the VIII the silhouette was almost square, with shoulder emphasis achieved through wide revers and collars and large sleeves.

Throughout this period, fashionable men’s clothing consisted of:

  • A linen shirt or chemise, originally low-necked but with a higher neckline by mid-century. The neckline was gathered into a narrow band or adjusted by means of a drawstring; the tiny ruffle formed by pulling up the drawstring became wider over time, and then evolved into the ruff of the next period.
  • A doublet with matching sleeves, often slashed or cut to allow the fabric of the shirt beneath to show through.
  • A jerkin, usually cut low to the waist in front to reveal the doublet beneath, with full skirts to the knee.
  • Hose, now usually ending above the knee, with a prominent codpiece (both sometimes hidden under the skirts of the jerkin).
  • Separate nether-hose or stockings held up with garters.
  • A front-opening overgown, often fur-lined for warmth and slashed, with sleeves. The overgown was ankle length early in the period.

Lower class men wore a one-piece garment called a cotte in English, tight to the waist with knee-length skirts and long sleeves over their hose.

Bright colors (reds, yellows, purples, pinks, and greens) were popular.”

Portrait of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon

Fig. 1 - Jan Gossaert (Flemish-Dutch, 1478-1532). Portrait of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, 1516. Bedfordshire: Woburn Abbey. Source: Wikimedia

Duke Henry the Pious

Fig. 2 - Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 1472-1553). Duke Henry the Pious, 1514. Oil on canvas; 184.5 x 83 cm (72.6 × 32.7 in). Dresden: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, 1906 G. Source: Wikimedia

Sebastian Andorfer (1469–1537)

Fig. 3 - Hans Maler (German, ca. 1480-1526–29). Sebastian Andorfer (1469–1537), 1517. Oil on swiss stone pine; 43.2 x 35.9 cm (17 x 14 1/8 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 32.100.33. The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931. Source: The Met

Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus (born about 1446, died 1506)

Fig. 4 - Sebastiano del Piombo (Sebastiano Luciani) (Italian, 1485/86–1547). Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus (born about 1446, died 1506), 1519. Oil on canvas; 106.7 x 88.3 cm (42 x 34 3/4 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 00.18.2. Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1900. Source: The Met

Man Weighing Gold

Fig. 5 - Adriaen Isenbrant (Netherlandish, 1510–1551). Man Weighing Gold, ca. 1515–20. Oil on wood; 50.8 x 30.5 cm (20 x 12 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 32.100.36. The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931. Source: The Met


Wikipedia writes of children’s wear:

“Children’s clothing was mostly smaller versions of adult clothing, complete with low necklines and cumbersome underthings. Children of the nobility must have had limited freedom of movement to play and romp because of the restrictive clothing they wore. Toddler boys wore gowns until they were breeched.”

Federigo Gonzaga (1500–1540)

Fig. 1 - Francesco Francia (Italian, 1447–1517). Federigo Gonzaga (1500–1540), 1510. Tempera on wood, transferred from wood to canvas and then again to wood; 47.9 x 35.6 cm (18 7/8 x 14 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 14.40.638. Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913. Source: The Met


Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1510-1519

Map of Europe, 1519. Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • 1512 – Michelangelo finishes painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
  • 1513 – Martin Luther begins to write his Protestant doctrines.
  • 1516 – Charles V of Spain unites the Hapsburg territories with Aragon and Castile, Spain becomes the dominant power in Europe (Holy Roman Empire). Black clothes with rich decorations are favored.
  • 1516 – Leonardo da Vinci begins living in France.
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