The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. It encompassed the revival of learning based on classical sources, the rise of courtly and papal patronage, the development of perspective in painting, and advancements in science. The Renaissance had wide-ranging consequences in all intellectual pursuits, but is perhaps best known for its artistic aspect and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who have inspired the term "Renaissance men".

Venice 16th Century England The Arnolfini Portrait - 1434 Ermine painting
Renaissance man - 1580 Renaissance man - 1580 Isabel painting Maria Magdalena painting 1525-1535

Renaissance fashion and costumes mirrored the advancing culture, as increasing trade made more clothing materials available. Nobility dressed themselves in elaborate and brightly colored robes, gowns and other vestments. The upper class reserved silk for themselves, and in some areas, peasants were forbidden to possess it. Embroidery of gold and silver thread would be sewn to form fanciful designs depicting scences from legends, nature or religion. Those living during the Renaissance would adorn themselves in jewelry, furs, and elaborate belts. Wigs crafted from peasant's hair was also very popular.


Fashion represented a big status symbol during the Renaissance. The wealthy were literally "wearing their wealth" as the expensive clothing helped establish a reputation of wealth for the owner. It was usually the wealthy or ruling class that drove Renaissance fashion. However, one very popular fashion trend, the technique of "slashing" was originated within the lower classes or commoners. The beret was also invented during these times. They were highly decorated by either jewels or embroidery.