1550–1600 in fashion

Fashion in the period 1550–1600 in Western European clothing was characterized by increased opulence. Contrasting fabrics, slashes, embroidery, applied trims, and other forms of surface ornamentation remained prominent. The wide silhouette, conical for women with breadth at the hips and broadly square for men with width at the shoulders had reach its peak in the 1530s, and by mid-century a tall, narrow line with a V-shaped waist was back in fashion. Sleeves and women's skirts then began to widen again, with emphasiis at the shoulder that would continue into the next century. The characteristic garment of the period was the ruff, which began as a modest ruffle attached to the neckband of a shirt or smock and grew into a separate garment of fine linen, trimmed with lace, cutwork or embroidery, and shaped into crisp, precise folds with starch and heated irons. Spanish style Charles V, king of Spain, Naples, and Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor, handed over the kingdom of Spain to his son Philip II and the Empire to his brother Ferdinand I in 1558, ending the domination of western Europe by a single court, but the Spanish taste for sombre richness of dress would dominate fashion for the remainder of the century[1][2]' New alliances and trading patterns arose as the divide between Catholic and Protestant countries became more pronounced. The severe, rigid fashions of the Spanish court were dominant everywhere except France and Italy. Black garments were worn for the most formal occasions. While some might think that wearing black meant that the garments were simple, this was not the case at all. Regional styles were still distinct. The clothing was very intricate, elaborate and made with heavy fabrics such as velvet and raised silk, topped off with brightly coloured jewellery such as rubies, diamond and pearls to contrast the black backdrop of the clothing.[3] Janet Arnold in her analysis of Queen Elizabeth's wardrobe records identifies French, Italian, Dutch, and Polish styles for bodices and sleeves, as well as Spanish.[4] Italian doublet and hose decorated with applied trim and parallel cuts contrast with a severe black jerkin, 1560. Linen ruffs grew from a narrow frill at neck and wrists to a broad "cartwheel" style that required a wire support by the 1580s. Ruffs were worn throughout Europe, by men and women of all classes, and were made of rectangular lengths of linen as long as 19 yards.[5] Later ruffs were made of delicate reticella, a cutwork lace that evolved into the needlelaces of the seventeenth century. The general trend toward abundant surface ornamentation in the Elizabethan Era was expressed in clothing, especially amongst the aristocracy in England. Shirts and chemises were embroidered with blackwork and edged in lace. Heavy cut velvets and brocades were further ornamented with applied bobbin lace, gold and silver embroidery, and jewels.[7] Toward the end of the period, polychrome (multicolored) silk embroidery became fashionable.[8] The origins of the trend for somber colors are elusive, but are generally attributed to the growing influence of Spain and possibly the importation of Spanish merino wools. The Low Countries, German states, Scandinavia, England, France, and Italy all absorbed the sobering and formal influence of Spanish dress after the mid-1520s. Fine textiles could be dyed "in the grain" (with the expensive kermes), alone or as an over-dye with woad, to produce a wide range colors from blacks and grays through browns, murreys, purples, and sanguines.[9][10] Inexpensive reds, oranges and pinks were dyed with madder and blues with woad, while a variety of common plants produced yellow dyes, although most were prone to fading. By the end of the period, there was a sharp distinction between the sober fashions favored by Protestants in England and the Netherlands, which still showed heavy Spanish influence, and the light, revealing fashions of the French and Italian courts. This distinction would carry over well into the seventeenth century.