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Elizabethan Shirts

Queen Elizabeth Ist

"Queen Elizabeth Ist"

Clothing and Fashion - Elizabethan Shirts

Shirts were an essential item of clothing for Elizabethan men. Shirts were worn under a variety of outer garments such as the doublet or jerkin. Shirts were loose fitting to the body with full sleeves gathered at the cuff. Ruffs were sometimes pinned to cuffs as well as being an item of clothing worn around the neck.

Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Shirts
Some interesting facts and confirmation of information about Elizabethan Shirts can be obtained from the words of Philip Stubbes. A first hand impression of the fashions of the Elizabethan era are invaluable - but the Elizabethan style of writing can be hard going. The following information has therefore been taken from the points he made on Elizabethan shirts:

  • The materials that shirts were made of varying kinds of linen and for the Upper classes silk
    • Holland - Expensive, very fine linen
    • Lawne - Again a type of expensive, fine linen
    • Camerick - Expensive, very fine linen
    • Decorated with fine needlework
    • Sometimes stitched with open seams
    • The price of shirts could be extremely expensive ranging from 10 shillings to an exhorbitant 20 ( which would probably have been for the shirts made of silk)

    Elizabethan Shirts - a comment dating back to 1583.
    During the Elizabethan era pamphlets were printed and distributed commenting on life in Elizabethan England. A writer of one such pamphlet was a well travelled Londoner called Philip Stubbes. He was believed to have been born c1555 and died c1610. He was well educated and attended both Oxford and Cambridge University. He was also a strict Elizabethan Puritan and held firm views on any social practices which, in his view were, unfitting  true Christians. He named his work " The Anatomie of Abuses " in which he strongly criticised many of the fashions and clothing worn during the Elizabethan era. It was entered in the Stationers' Register on 1 March 1583. This pamphlet includes his view and some valuable information about Elizabethan Shirts.

    "Their Shirtes, which all in a manner doe weare (for if the Nobilitie or Gentrie onely did weare them, it were some deal more tolerable) are eyther of Cambricke,Holland, Lawn, or els of the finest cloth that maye bee got. And of these kindes of Shirts everie one now doth weare alike: so as it may be thoght our Foref athers have made their Bandes & Ruffes ( if they had any at all) of grosser cloth and baser stuffe than the worst of our shirtes are made of nowadayes. And these shurts are wrought through out with nedle work of silke, and such like, and curiouslie stitched with open seame, and many other knackes besydes, morethan I can describe. In so much as I have heard of Shirtes that have cost some ten shillings, some twentie, some fortie, some five pound, some twentie Nobles and (which is horrible to heare) some ten pound a peece, yea, the meanest shirt that commonly is worne of any, doest cost a crowne, or a noble at the least: and yet this is scarsly thought fine enough for the simplest person that is."

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