22 February 2010
Costumes on the Elizabethan Stage
The clothing we wear affects our attitudes and characteristics in our everyday life. In a drama, costumes can explain the characters and be a viewing pleasure for the audience. In Elizabethan drama, the costumes illustrated the setting of the play by adding sophistication and glamour; the social class by separating the rich and the poor, and the personality to express individualism for each character on stage.
In Shakespeare’s day, the costumes had a direct effect on how the costumes were being used to illustrate the setting. Costumes on the Elizabeth stage had to follow The English Sumptuary Law of ...view middle of the document...
The women’s costumes showed more of the characters’ personalities rather than the men’s costumes. The reasons being that women had more options with their costumes such as: the details on the dresses, the ruffles, the sleeves, and the hairstyles they had. The details on the dresses were very intricate in the detail in the beading, sequence, and design. Ruffles were mainly used on women during the plays; the ruffle was the hierarchical element for the dresses. The sleeves on a dress were usually puffy in Elizabethan times depending on their status; if they were in the lower class the sleeves were not aesthetically pleasing as the other sleeves.
The Elizabethan costumes illustrated the social class by setting apart the rich and the poor. The costumes worn on the Elizabethan stage “provided information about the status of the person wearing them…” (Alchin). Each costume on the Elizabethan stage was designed to parallel each character’s social class. The social elite used sumptuous materials and elegant styles, while the lower classes used basic materials. In Shakespeare’s time, there were different ways to distinguish if the character was in the upper class or in the lower class. Some ways...