irish renaissance dresses

Women wore long garments with detachable sleeves throughout the Renaissance period.

The sleeves were generally given to the bride by the groom, but they might also be passed down from mother to daughter, aunt to niece, or rented.

Women wore washable aprons or overdress with linen chemises and shifts as underwear to keep their dresses clean.

For those who do not know about the renaissance period let us first try to understand.

What is the renaissance period?

There was a significant disparity in wardrobe across the courses due to restrictions regulating who was permitted to wear what and the cost of materials.

Not only did materials differ, but so did styles, as the lower classes had no choice but to dress for utility. Laborers and workers wore linen, a light, cool cloth made from remains of the plants, wool, or sheepskin. 

Cotton had been grown since antiquity, but its import and manufacture were forbidden in Elizabethan to protect the wool industry, which was one of the country’s most important exports. 

Cotton did not become a popular fabric until cotton planting in the New World and Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793.

Silk, satin, velvet, and brocade were among the fabrics offered to the upper classes. All harvesting, weaving, and manufacturing of fabrics and apparel were done by hand before the industrial revolution, which had a significant impact on price. 

The lower classes, like the fabric options, were limited in the amount of clothing they could purchase, with some having only one suit of clothing. The master provided servants with liveries, which were uniforms with their master’s colors or symbols on them. 

Because they symbolized the upper-class master rather than the servant, liveries were exempt from many of the sumptuary laws.

Women wore their hair loose when they were young and single, but once married, they knotted it up in intricate braids and twists. 

Matrons wore veils to conceal their hair, and the hooded veil was a sign of widowhood. Nuns wore habits and wimples, with the color of their habit signifying their order: brown for Franciscans, black and white for Dominicans.

Women’s clothing 

We know less about women’s apparel than we do about men’s. This could be because various details concerning men’s dress were recorded about the military Irish. We only have a few reports and a few drawings by period painters to go on.

We know a lot more about city women than we do about women who live in rural areas. In general, a woman would wear a léine that was ankle length. She would wear a dress over it. She’d wear a brat (shawl/cloak) over it.

Women’s dresses in Renaissance Ireland fluctuated in style from year to year, but the essential styles stayed the same. Women wore gowns with a form-fitting bodice and a wider skirt that hung down to their ankles.

Dresses with a lot of neckline exposure were allowed and stylish. Upper-class clothing was bulky and unwieldy, restricting movement for the user.

Lower-class women wore far less restricted fashions, both for the sake of freedom of movement and because they did not have slaves to assist them with their attire.

The Celtic Overdress is a period-inspired article of clothing worn by many women in the SCA. As far as I can tell, Hollywood came up with these outfits. Wearing a léine over a sleeved dress is required for authenticity.

For increased comfort, a lower-class woman might wear a much looser corset, if at all, and avoid further underpinnings like bum rolls (crescent-shaped cushions worn around the hips) or farthingales (hoop skirts used to keep the skirts out). 

All women’s costumes began with a shift (a loose, linen smock placed over the gown to protect it) and knee-high stockings. Petticoats were worn to fill in the gaps in a gown and to keep the wearer warm.

Men’s clothing

The men’s basic uniform consists of a shirt that is identical to our modern dress shirts, except for the collar and cuffs. Instead, lace would be used for the collar and cuffs.

A doublet, or fitted top, would be worn over this shirt, followed by a jerkin, or tight-fitting jacket.

For better functionality, men in the lower classes frequently wear merely the shirt without the doublet and jerkin. Men wore hose on their legs instead of regular pants like we do today.

The top hose was usually poufy knee-length, followed by the nether hose, which was similar to stockings on the lower leg.

The children of the Renaissance were dressed in the same manner as their parents. Even though both boys and girls wore dresses as infants and toddlers, Around the age of seven, boys begin to wear hose.

By Anurag Rathod

Anurag Rathod is an Editor of, who is passionate for app-based startup solutions and on-demand business ideas. He believes in spreading tech trends. He is an avid reader and loves thinking out of the box to promote new technologies.