Saturday, 9 July 2005

What Not to Wear, by Elizabeth I

A decree issued by Queen Elizabeth I in 1597 details what people should and should not wear. The decree is very elaborate.
For men:
"Her Majesty doth straightly charge and command that none shall wear in his apparel cloth of gold or silver tissued, silk of colour purple, under the decree of an Earl, except Knights of the Garter in their purple robes only.
None shall wear cloth of gold or silver, tinselled satin, silk or cloth mixed or embroidered with gold or silver, woollen cloth made out of the realm under the degree of a baron, except Knights of the Garter, Privy Counsellors to the Queen's Majesty."

As for women, Elizabeth felt that only countesses could wear cloth of gold or silver tissued, or purple silk, except viscountesses who were allowed to wear cloth of gold or silver tissued in their kirtles only.

Every rank had its own particular way of dressing, textiles that only they could wear.
The poor wore coarse woollen garments...

4 comments:

Peter said...

Do you know if it's true what I read in a not particularly trustworthy book - it said Claudius choked to death on a feather without a word about the likelihood he was poisoned by Agrippina - that it was common in Elizabethan times for women including the Queen to wear dresses exposing the breasts completely?

James O said...

Women wore dresses of that kind in the late 14th and early 15th centuries; I don't know if they were still around by Queen Elisabeth's time

Alterior said...

Claudius used to tickle his throat with a feather in order to vomit after having eaten a particluarly large meal. This was done by many rich Romans for the purpose of making space in the stomach for more food. Thus they could eat and drink for hours on end. This however is not how Claudius died. See my recent post.
As for the dresses you refer to, I do not think they were in vogue in Elizabethan times were being buttoned up to the neck was the thing to do and top it all with an extremelly uncomfortable ruff around the neck. However, it is said that Elizabeth I wore a disconcertingly low neckline at times because she was a virgin. Of course what was low for those days usualy meant yopu could see a bit of cleavage.

Alterior said...

Had some problems posting on Blogger last night, so bear with me...