16th Century

Books about history in the Sixteenth Century

The Sixteenth century was one of the most extravagant and splendid periods in all of costume history and one of the first periods in which modern ideas of fashion influenced what people wore. Some of the larger cultural trends of the time included the rise and spread of books, the expansion of trade and exploration, and the increase in power and wealth of national monarchies, or kingdoms, in France, England, and Spain. Each of these trends influenced what people chose to wear and contributed to the frequent changes in style and the emergence of style trendsetters that are characteristic of modern fashion. More info

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Wealth and the monarchies of Europe

Perhaps the single biggest factor influencing fashion in the sixteenth century was the wealth of European kingdoms and powerful city-states in Italy. Trade and exploration had led to a boom in the economies of Europe, and the textile, or fabric, industries were at the center of that boom. Wool production in England and silk production in Italy were especially important. These industries allowed for the creation of rich fabrics. At the same time tailors guilds, or associations of craftsmen, proved very skilled at turning these fabrics into luxurious clothes. The monarchs and the members of their court were enriched by these trends and could afford the most expensive clothes. But the guild members, traders, and merchants who made up a growing middle class could also afford these clothes.

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