OVERVIEW

Womenswear

Wikipedia summarizes women’s fashion of the 1500-1550, writing:

“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 smock worn 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.”

Venetian Lovers

Fig. 1 - Paris Bordone (Italian, 1500-1571). Venetian Lovers, 1525-1530. Oil on canvas; 81 x 86 cm (31.9 x 33.9 in). Milan: Pinacoteca di Brera, 1156. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mary of Burgundy

Fig. 2 - Master H.A. or A.H. (Austrian). Mary of Burgundy, 1528. Oil on fir panel; 44.8 x 31 cm (17 5/8 x 12 3/16 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975.1.137. Robert Lehman Collection, 1975. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Adoration of the Magi

Fig. 3 - Quentin Metsys (Netherlandish, 1466–1530). The Adoration of the Magi, 1526. Oil on wood; 102.9 x 80 cm (40 1/2 x 31 1/2 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 11.143. John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1911. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Portrait of a Woman

Fig. 4 - Quentin Metsys (Netherlandish, Leuven, 1466–1530). Portrait of a Woman, ca.1520. Oil on wood; 48.3 x 43.2 cm (19 x 17 in). New York: The Met, 32.100.47. The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Menswear

Of early 1500’s men fashion, Wikipedia writes:

“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, but knee-length overgowns were fashionable in the 1530s and 1540s. Scholars, judges, doctors, and other professionals retained the ankle length gown throughout the period.”

Portrait of a Man

Fig. 1 - Jan Gossart (called Mabuse) (Netherlandish, ca. 1478–1532). Portrait of a Man, c. 1520-1525. Oil on wood; 47 x 34.9 cm (18 1/2 x 13 3/4 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 32.100.62. The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Portrait of a Man

Fig. 2 - Moretto da Brescia (Alessandro Bonvicino) (Italian, 1498-1554). Portrait of a Man, ca. 1520-1525. Oil on canvas; 87 x 81.3 cm (34 1/4 x 32 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 28.79. Rogers Fund, 1928. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Man with a Golden Paw

Fig. 3 - Lorenzo Lotto (Italian, 1480-1556). Man with a Golden Paw, ca. 1527. Oil on canvas. Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum. Source: Pinterest

Portrait of a Gentleman

Fig. 4 - Bartolomeo Veneto (Venetian, 1502-1531). Portrait of a Gentleman, c. 1520. Oil on panel transferred to canvas; 76.8 x 58.4 cm (30 1/4 x 23 in). Washington, D.C: National Gallery of Art, 1939.1.257. Samuel H. Kress Collection. Source: National Gallery of Art

Chancellor Leonhard von Eck (1480–1550)

Fig. 5 - Barthel Beham (German, 1502–1540). Chancellor Leonhard von Eck (1480–1550), 1527. Oil on spruce; 56.2 x 37.8 cm (22 1/8 x 14 7/8 in). New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 12.194. John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1912. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

CHILDREN’S WEAR

References:

Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1520-1529
Rulers:

 Europa 1519. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Events:
  • 1520 – Spanish Conquistadors defeat the Aztecs in Mexico. Cochineal used as a red dye is brought back to Europe.
  • 1527 – Matteo Pagano in Italy and Pierre de Quinty in Cologne publish the first pattern books for embroidery and lace making.
  • 1521-33 – Conquistadores established New Spain in the Americas
  • 1527 – Germans sacked Rome
  • Primary/Period Sources

    Resources for Fashion History Research

    To discover primary/period sources, explore the categories below.
    Have a primary source to suggest?  Or a newly digitized periodical/book to announce?  Contact us!

    Digitized Primary/Period Sources

    Secondary Sources

    Also see the 16th-century overview page for more research sources… or browse our Zotero library.

    Online

    Books/Articles
    Pinterest