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
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Clothing expression in medieval Europe, like all other forms of artistic expression at this time, found it's biggest outlet in the ecclesiastical field, as this was where all the money was to be found. The churches employed all the best builders and craftsmen in creating their great cathedrals, and art works. In clothing, the church dictated what sorts of materials were made, and brought into the area, what colors were in use, and what styles were used, influencing the secular as well as ecclesiastical dress. In the feudal system only great Barons and their families wore fine cloths, as clothing was a symbol of rank and importance. Each family made their own clothes, so fashion was very individualistic in style, and each family had their own characteristics. With an increase of wealth in the area, and the beginning of the crusades, new elaborate styles were introduced into the scene. Fashions became strange, and grotesque in nature reflecting the constant struggles and wars of the time, as fantasy and the grotesque generally influence social costumes accompanying times of war. Women in their headgear actually wore huge horns, like an ox, that towered above them and supported a veil, and men's shoes were peaked and extended six inches in front of them for common men, and a foot for gentlemen, and two feet for noblemen.

The church frowned on the extreme finery, painted faces, and low-cut dresses of the women. But as
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