Sumptuary Laws In The Elizabethan Era

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During the Elizabethan Age, there were social classes that consisted of the upper, middle, and lower class. Each social class’ wardrobe depended on the Sumptuary Laws created by Queen Elizabeth. “The main purpose of the legislation was to mark class distinctions clearly and to prevent any person from assuming the appearance of a superior class” (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition “Sumptuary laws”). The Sumptuary Laws were a set of restrictions that were placed, depending on the social class, to regulate luxury and extravagance. As a result of the Sumptuary Laws in the Elizabethan Age, each social class had a limit on what type of clothing could be worn. Due to the Sumptuary Laws, the women of the Elizabethan Age had a wider range…show more content…
The middle class mainly consisted of people who were wealthy. They enjoyed accessorizing with extravagant items such as hats, jewelry, handkerchiefs, and pouches. One of the most significant accessories to both men and women of this age were beautiful gloves that protected their hands. Women often sprayed perfumes before leaving their house due to the filthy street conditions of the Elizabethan Age. As a result of the Sumptuary Laws, middle class women were sanctioned to wear clothing tailored of broadcloth, cotton, and linen, as well as wearing a chemise. A chemise was worn to protect clothing from sweat and body oils. The less wealthy middle class people wore jerkins and doublets in place of chemises. Doublets were worn over a shirt and waistcoat. Most oftenly, sleeves were made separate from the doublets (“Fashion and Classes”). Like the middle class women, fashion was also important to the middle class men. The men also fancied doublets just as the women had. Generally, men wore a padding inside their shirts and doublets called a codpiece. The purpose of the codpiece was to make their stomach look plump, which ultimately made the wearer appear as if they were rich. The codpiece originated from people of higher class who had worn it to protect their stomachs. The codpiece eventually became a symbol of wealth

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