Fashion history of the 16th century

4. October 2021
Fashion in the 16th century

© Bigstock.com / Ambrose234

Social and cultural changes have shaped the world of fashion since the beginning of time. Fascinating developments can be seen in the context of the respective epochs, which we are currently presenting to you in more detail in the course of a historically valuable series. After a first Time travel to the Middle Ages , strongly influenced by Byzantine and Burgundian models, now follows a leap into the 16th century. Obviously impressed by revolutionary discoveries and inventions, the result was a time that was also extremely eventful in terms of fashion.


The renaissance revolution

In the second half of the In the 15th century, the medieval worldview was shaken several times in its basic manifestos. Humanism, individuality, printing and the discovery of America – important factors for social upheaval, which among other things also blessed the population with fashion consciousness. This civil clothing revolution occurred at the beginning of the 16th century mainly from Italy. Venice and Milan became fashion metropolises, and the ideas and style of the Renaissance were immediately carried out into the world.

The biggest change was in men’s fashion at that time. The bib became a pubic capsule, over the tight, short-sleeved vest one wore a hood with a wide overskirt. Many of these aspects were quickly reflected in women’s fashion. The scabbard with its eye-catching back collar was particularly popular, often worn down to the foot and divided into a bodice and skirt. Slit garments, inspired by the clothing of the mercenaries, were suddenly in vogue.

Fashionable greetings from Spain and France

At the time, Italian Renaissance fashion was considered a fairly immoral affair. Unsurprisingly, from the mid-16th century onwards, Spanish influences took over and manifested the growing political and economic influence on the clothing level. A much more elegant style began to take hold. The scabbard became a thigh-length coat with a flat collar, while at the same time the millstone collar and the corset gradually emerged – both elements of French fashion that was popular at the end of the 16th century.

At the turn of the century, however, the corset became a hotly debated object of fashionable desire. Increasing constrictions were detrimental to health and even led to medical protests. “Sans ventre”, that is, “without a stomach”, divided society and thus also the fashion landscape. While not much happened in men’s fashion during this time, women received the so-called reform dress as an alternative. It was particularly loose and did not constrict, but could never assert itself in terms of fashion and quickly disappeared from the scene again.

To this day, fashion trends and developments are hotly debated. No place is better suited for this than the Brandboxx Salzburg trade fairs. Here, trade visitors can find out today what will be trendy the day after tomorrow. Take a look at that upcoming trade fair dates – at We are happy to help with exhibition and accreditation questions !


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For the sole purpose of better readability, the gender-specific spelling has been omitted. All personal terms on the website (and all integrated documents) are therefore to be understood as gender-neutral. The shortened form of language is purely editorial and does not imply any judgement.