Renaissance fashion was all about elegance and indulgence. The Renaissance, the period from 1400 to 1600, was a time of rebirth in most European countries. Science was on the rise and new ideas were embraced. These new ideas and concepts were even reflected in the fashion of the day.
The wealthy clad themselves in extraordinarily rich materials during the Renaissance. These fabrics include silk, velvet, fur, leather, wool and hemp. However, the most popular type of fabric was definitely brocade, a rich silk fabric that is shuttle woven with intricate designs. The poor stuck to whatever fabric was available, usually a rough hemp or wool.
Lavish and complicated styles were popular during the Renaissance. Trimming, embroidery and other decoration styles were utilized. Lace was popular, as were decorative jewels and weavings. Hooks, ties and bows were also used whenever possible.
One of the key styles during Renaissance times was to slash or panel sleeves and pants. To slash or panel an outfit, the fabric would be cut and a contrasting fabric would be pulled through or sewn in. Both men and women were very fond of using this style.
Women during the Renaissance wore mostly long, full skirts with fitted bodices. These skirts were usually floor length and always worn with petticoats. Skirts could be whole, covering the entire area, or partly open, exposing an underskirt beneath. The skirt could either be huge and full or rather slim, depending on the exact Renaissance century you're looking at.
Bodices were almost always fitted during Renaissance times. The waist was high and tied in early Renaissance fashion, and low with a V shape during later Renaissance fashion. Necklines may be high and ruffled or somewhat low and trimmed. Sleeves could be long, layered, puffed or slashed, depending on the exact outfit.
Poor women during the Renaissance either wore very ragged clothes or the outdated cast-off garments from a noble's wardrobe. The skirts could be anywhere from mid calf to floor length and were usually patched with mismatched petticoats. Shirts tended to be plain with long or puffed sleeves. A half-corset might be worn around the waist, ending right under the bust.
When the Renaissance began, men were wearing long robe-like garments; by the later part of that period, they were wearing rather fitted outfits. Instead of traditional pants, men wore knitted tights under a knee-length tunic. They also sometimes wore short, puffy pants known as trunkhose, over their knitted hose.
Though the bottom part of men's fashion was rather plain, it was the upper area that carried all the glamour. The upper parts of the tunics were often edged, lined embroidered or otherwise decorated in a lavish style. Sleeves could be long or puffy and a vest or doublet may have also been worn. A doublet was a short over-shirt that was usually padded on the shoulders.
Poor men wore basic trousers and overshirt during the Renaissance. Fabric was expensive and hard to come by for a poor man. The pants were usually slightly loose and tied around the waist or calves. Shirts were made as roughly as the pants, and tended do be little more than a short tunic.
Medieval times were rough and coarse, so they had the medieval fashions to match.
Medieval hairstyles, such as braids and twists, are now seen as a way to show off your hair, but in medieval times, it was all an effort to keep hair modest.