Exploring Social Patterns in the Renaissance Through Fashion

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Exploring Social Patterns in the Renaissance Through Fashion Fashion reflects the attitudes of a society more than any other art form. Like art, fashion is a material record of the ideals that swayed the nations at the time of their creation. Through examining the styles, and tastes of a particular era, we can realize where the interests and priorities of a time lie. As Frank Parsons wrote in his 1920 study, The Psychology of Dress, "There is surly no better field in which to trace the devious paths of human thought than in that of clothes, where man has ever given free play to self expression, in a way which, thought not always a credit to his intelligence, is yet quite true to his innermost self, whether he will acknowledge it or not." Through, tracing and analyzing, side by side, art and fashion, and the effects that one had on the other and society, we can understand the ideals, and interests of European culture, here, through the Renaissance. Clothing style is dictated by three particular interests. First is popular fashion, which was most influenced by either the church or the rulers, as styles were copied from the ruling class, and, as they grew more and more extreme, criticized by the ecclesiastical element. Second is commercial interests. The strong merchant class will always know how to push the richest and most expensive materials into the mode. And thirdly is personal artistic expression. Fashion is dictated by many factors such as geography, time, and social and ethical standards. But superseding these is the influence of strong personalities, the brave people who will don the unthinkable, and in doing so, create the latest trend. Personal expression and creativity will only be found in the bravest, and usuall... ... middle of paper ... ...tones of violet or purple, combined with gold and other colors, while the Blues would favor materials in blue and white. Sensual indulgence, and ostentatious magnificence were strangling the ideal of the Renaissance, which continued to drown itself in extravagance and luxury through the reigns of Charles IX and Henry III. These reins, from 1560-1589, marked the end of the Renaissance with a gradual decline in culture, art, and manners. Renaissance costumes in the beginning were marked by sincerity, charm, and beauty. This gradually became perverted as luxury, and richness, became the most important features, and finally, in the later decades, the Renaissance had become completely dominated by sumptuousness, and show. This trend was evident throughout the Renaissance, in many areas of culture, but is most easily noted and understood in the fashions of the time.

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