Elizabeth I's Proclamation Against Excess


Elizabethan dress codes


  • Intro

    During the late 1500s, Queen Elizabeth I passed a series of strict laws relating to dress codes. The laws ensured that people across the social spectrum dressed according to their rank and class. At this time, England was importing great quantities of luxury fabrics, and the Queen expressed concern that her subjects were spending too much money on ‘unnecessary foreign wares’ and ‘vain devices’. The laws allowed her to curb extravagant spending, and to define and set the distinctions between the different strata of society. Those found dressed in inappropriate clothing could be fined. This document specifies the fabrics and types of clothing that each social rank was permitted to wear, such as specific types of embroidered silks, 'tinseled' satins, furs or 'purpures' - a type of purple or crimson robe .

  • Transcript

    Elizabeth I's Proclamation Against Excess

    The briefe content of certayne Actes of Parliament, agaynst th'inordinate use of apparell. 



    None shall weare in his apparell any{


    Silke of the colour of purpure.—

    Cloth of {golde, Tissue.—

    }But onlye the —

    {Kyng— Quene} 

    {Kinges {Mother. Chyldren. Brethré & Sisters. Uncles & Auntes}

    and Except {Dukes & Marquesses, to be may weare in dublets and sleevelesse cotes, Cloth of Gold, of Tissue, not exceadyng. v. if. the yarde, and Purpure in mantelles of the Garter.


    Cloth of—{Golde—Sylver. Tinseld satin. 

    Sylke or cloth mixte or imbrodered with Golde or Sylver, nor Furre of Sables.— 


    {Earles, and all degrees above Earles, and Viscountes, & Barons, in Doublets and sleevelesse cotes onely: cloth of Golde, Sylver, or Tynsell.


    Wollen cloth made out of the Realme, but in bonnets only}— 

    Velvet—{Crimsin. Scarlet or Blewe, 

    Furres—{Black Jenets. Lusernes. 



    {Dukes.— Marquesses. Earles, and—}theyr chyldren. 

    {Barons: and knyghtes, beyng companions of the garter.


    Velvet in—{Gownes,— Coates with sleve or other uttermost garmentes.

    Furre of Libardes. 

    Embrodery. Pricking or printing with}—{Golde Sylver or Sylke._


    {Men of the degress above mentioned. Barons sonnes Knyghtes, or men that may dispende [] by yere.


    Sattin.— Damaske. Silke Chamlet or Taffata in—}Gowne— Coate with sleves or uttermost garméts.

    Velvent, otherwise then in slevelesse Jackets, Doublets, Coyfes, Partlettes or Purses.

    Furre wherof the kynde groweth not within the Quenes dominions: except Foynes, gray Jenets, Bodge.—


    {The degrees [nerte?] above mentioned: and Men that dispende [.C.ii.?] by yere.


    Sylke, other than Satin, Damaske, Taffata, or Sarcenet in Doublets: and Sarcenet, Chamlette, or Taffata in lynynge of gownes: & the same, or Velvet, in slevelesse Cotes, Jakets, Jerkens, Coyfes, Cappes, Purses or Partlettes, being not of colour scarlet, crimsin, or blewe.—

    Furre of—{Foynes, graye Jenets, or other, as the lyke groweth not within the Quenes dominions.—


    {Men of the degrees above mentioned. Sonne & heyre appraunt of a knyghtn, or sonne & heyre apparaút of a man of .ccc. marke landes by yere, and Pen that may dispende [] by yere.


    Note that the Lorde{Chauncelour. Treasourer. President of the counsell. Privie seale.

    }may weare any

    {Velvet, Sattin, or other sylkes, except purpure. Furres, except Blacke Jenets.

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