They were designed to limit the expenditure of people on clothes - and of course to maintain the social structure of the Elizabethan Class system. The clothes that Elizabethan men wore were dictated by the Sumptuary Law as decreed by Queen Elizabeth I on 15 June 1574. The fabrics and colors of clothes which men were allowed to wear were determined by their position and rank. Some interesting facts and information about Elizabethan men's Clothing and the Sumptuary Laws during the Elizabethan era.
The Meaning of Elizabethan Clothing
The rank and position of Elizabethan men could be immediately recognised by the color and material of their clothes. The English Sumptuary Laws were well known by all of the English people. And they were strictly obeyed. The penalties for violating Sumptuary Laws could be harsh - fines, the loss of property, title and even life. Elizabethan men only wore clothes that they were allowed to wear - by Law.
The Meaning of Colors in Elizabethan Era Clothing
The table below contains full details of the meaning of the colors which were allowed to be worn by Elizabethan men in relation to their position, status or position. Bright and dark colours were generally more expensive to produce and therefore limited to higher status clothing. The meaning of specific colors which were allowed to be worn during the Elizabethan Era are further detailed in The Meaning of Colors in Elizabethan Clothing.
Materials worn in Elizabethan Era Clothing
The materials worn by Elizabethan men in relation to their position, status or position. Silks, velvets and furs were the most expensive materials and fabrics to produce and therefore limited to higher status clothing - Material & Fabrics used in Elizabethan Era Clothing.
Clothing allowed for men during the Elizabethan Era
The above info detailing Elizabethan clothing allowed for men has been compiled directly from the Sumptuary Laws called the 'Statutes of Apparel' which were enforced by Queen Elizabeth I in Greenwich on 15 June 1574.
- King, King's mother, children, brethren, and uncles: Silk - Purple - Any Clothing
- Dukes, Marquises, and Earls: Silk - Purple - Doublets, jerkins, linings of cloaks, gowns, and hose
- Dukes, Marquises, and Earls: Sable Fur
- Knights of the Garter: Silk - Purple - Mantles only
- Above Viscounts and barons: Tinseled satin, silk, or cloth mixed or embroidered with any gold - Gold
- Above Viscounts, and barons: Cloth of Silver, Tinseled satin, silk, or cloth mixed or embroidered with any gold - Silver
- Above ranks: Woolen cloth made out of the realm
- Dukes, Marquises, Earls, and their children, Viscounts, Barons, and Knights of the Garter, Privy Council - Velvet - Crimson, or Scarlet
- Above ranks: Furs
- Barons' sons, Knights and gentlemen in ordinary office attendant upon her majesty's person, and such as have been employed in Embassages to foreign princes: Velvet - Fur of leopards - Embroidery with any silk
- The gentlemen attending upon the Queen's person in her highness's Privy chamber, cupbearers, carvers, servers, Esquire for the body, Gentlemen Ushers, or Esquires of the stable: Clothing trimmed with gold or silver or pearl; silk netherstocks; enameled chains, buttons, aglets
Gold or Silver trimmings - Caps, hats, hatbands, capbands, garters, or boothose
- As above: Satin, damask, silk, camlet, or taffeta - Gown, coat, hose, or uppermost garments
- As above: Fur whereof the kind groweth not in the Queen's dominions, except foins, genets, and budge - Grey Fur - Gown, coat, uppermost garments
- Knight, son or heir: Scabbards of swords, daggers, etc
- Knight, son or heir or above: Gilt - Spurs, swords, rapiers, daggers, skeans, woodknives, or hangers, buckles or girdles
- As above: Velvet - Hat, bonnet, girdle, shoes and pantofles
- As above: Satin, damask, taffeta, camlet - Doublets
- As above: Sarcanet, camlet, or taffeta - Facing of gowns and cloaks
- As above: Deep Blue - Gowns and cloaks, and in coats, jackets, jerkins, coifs, purses
- Lord Chancellor, Treasurer, President of the council, Privy Seal: Velvet, satin, or other silks - Except purple
- Lord Chancellor, Treasurer, President of the council, Privy Seal: Furs - Black except for black genets
- Justices , Barons of the Exchequer, Master of the Rolls, sergeants at law, Masters of the Chancery, of the Queen's council, apprentices of law, physicians of the King, mayors and other head officers of any towns corporate: Cottons and taffeta - All Except silk, velvet, damask or satin - Except crimson, violet, purple, deep blue.
- Lower Class Men: Wool, linen and sheepskin - Brown, beige, yellow, orange, russet, green, grey and blue (not the deep rich indigo but dyed with woad)
- Lower Class Men: Silk, taffeta and velvet trimmings allowed - Buttons and the facing of coats, cloaks, hats and caps