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The Color Palette – Renaissance and Medieval era

Red - Renaissance
High social status, royalty, gentlemen, men of justice.
Worn by judges and similar persons (Scotland, the Holy Roman Empire,
England’s Court of Common Pleas, occasionally by peers in English Parliament);
royal magistrates, king’s chancellor (France); high government posts (Venice
and Florence).
Cosmopolitan man with access to international trading centers.
Power and prestige.
In the Church, red was a symbol of authority, Pentecostal fire, the blood of
Christ, martyrdom, crucifixion, Christian charity. Also, could symbolize the
satanic and color of hellfire. At the universities of Padua and Bologna, red was
symbolic of medicine.

Red - Medieval
’A lover wears vermilion, like blood’ (later Middle Ages).
A sign of otherworldly power in European legends and folktales. Also,
protection: red thread to ward off witches, red coral necklaces to guard
against illness.
Sometimes the color of the Virgin Mary’s robes.
The color of kings, identified with kingly virtues of valor and success in war.
Also, fire.
A rich man.

Orange - Renaissance
The peasants and middle ranked persons imitated upper class reds by dyeing
their Renaissance clothes with cheaper orange-red and russet dyes. During the
Renaissance in Italy there was a law that all prostitutes, or harlots, were to
wear the color yellow. In the town of Venice, it was mandatory for all persons
of the Jewish religion to wear clothing that had a yellow circle sewn onto it.

Yellow - Renaissance
In almost all Italian cities, a prostitute was required to wear yellow.
In Venice, Jews were required to sew a yellow circle onto clothing.
Yellow - Medieval
In later Middle Ages, a harmonious color expressing the balance between the
red of justice and the white of compassion.
Late 1300s in Venice, a prostitute is known by her yellow dress.

Green - Renaissance
Youth, especially in the month of May.
In the secular sphere, chastity.
Love and joy.

Blue - Renaissance
Light blue represented a young marriageable woman.
In England, blue was the traditional color of servitude. Servants or members of
a City company were to wear bright blue or gray Renaissance clothing.
Indigo or deep blue means chastity in the sacred sphere.
Turquoise was a sure sign of jealousy.

Blue - Medieval
In the late Middle Ages, blue replaced royal purple in the mantle of the Virgin
Mary and robes and heraldry (especially in France).
A lover wears blue for fidelity (late Middle Ages).
By the 1300s, peasants owned blue Medieval clothing due to woad dye being
readily available.
Early Middle Ages, blue was associated with darkness, evil. Later blue was
associated with light.

Purple - Renaissance and Medieval
During the Renaissance, the Medici family in Florence, Italy wore purple.
Since Antiquity, the color of kings and emperors, but mostly nonexistent in
Renaissance and Medieval era due to near extinction of the spiny dye Murex
snail used to make imperial purple. Imperial purple disappeared in 1453.

Browns - Renaissance
Modest and religious dress.
Beige was the color of poverty.
In England, dull browns were worn by lower classes.

Gray - Renaissance
Modest and religious dress.
The color of poverty.
Female slaves in 1400s Florence were constrained to wear course woolens and
no bright colors.
In England, servants or members of a City company were to wear bright blue
or gray. Grays for the lower classes.
Gray - Medieval
Color of peasant clothing (eighth century, by order of Charlemagne).

Black - Renaissance
Color of clothing for nobility and wealthy, representing refinement and
Worn by king’s ministers as a sign of their selves being submitted to the will of
the king. Also, symbolizes defeat, humiliation and humility.
In the 1400s, black began to suggest smartness, importance, sophistication,
great dignity and state. Also, sad, melancholy, a humble color worn by
mourners and monks. An expensive color to produce indicating social
distinction and thus not worn by the lower classes.
In the 1400s, merchants regularly wear black.
Traditional color of Venice, and attributed to piety and virtue. Piety, to a
Venetian, was that which increased the empire.
A high fashion color in the mid-1500s. A Venetian senator wore black. In
Genoa, Italy, the Doge and aristocracy wore black. In England, lower class
women wore primarily black.

Black - Medieval
Black worn by a melancholy lover yearning with love.
Color of peasant clothing (eighth century, by order of Charlemagne).
According to Pope Innocent III about 1200, black is color of penance and
mourning, used for Advent and Lent.
The color of mourning in Brittany.

White - Renaissance
White is purity for women and chastity for men.
At the universities of Padua and Bologna, white was symbolic of the
White - Medieval
A lover wears white for purity (later Middle Ages).
According to Pope Innocent III about 1200, white is color of innocence and
purity, and was used on the feasts of the Virgin.
Compassion (later Middle Ages).
In France, white was the color of mourning.


Rust Iron, earth
Red Berry, Rose, Beet, Apple
Yellow Daffodil, Marigold, Onion, Wheat, Ocher
Blue Blueberry, Heather, Cornflower
Brown Bark, Earth, Cocoa, Walnut
Orange Autumnal, Carrot, Pumpkin, Squash, Peach

Forest, Hunter, Evergreen, Moss, Pea-green, Spring
Green, Apple-green
Grey Charcoal, Dove, Barnboard
Off White is preferable to pure white for peasant chemises.

 Aqua
 Fuschia
 Neon anything
 Teal
 Turquoise
 Pink
 Black (fabric only, as leather
accessories etc. would have
included black)
 Royal Purple
 Grape
 For shirts - 100% Cotton;
50/50% or 60/40%
Cotton/Poly; Linen; Muslin
 Leather
 Wool
 Cotton
 mid-weight to heavy-weight
Cotton, Denim (no blue jean)
 Twill
 Duck
 Trigger

 Silk
 Satin
 Velvet
 100% Polyester
 Taffeta
 Doubleknit
 Camouflage
 Rip Stop
 Blue Jean
 Grosgrain ribbon
 Plain upholstery gimp
 Piping
 Rattail
 Bias tape
 Webbing tape
 Simple embroidery
 Rope or hemp cording or braid


 Sequins
 Lace
 Satin Ribbon
 Rick-rack
 Fringe
 Plastics
 Vinyls and metallics
 Bone, wood, nut buttons
 Hooks and eyes are also
acceptable as are lacings

 Everything mentioned in Peasant,
 Black, in small amounts (unless you are
a Puritan)
 White
 Turquoise
 Saffron
 More jewel toned: Ruby, Sapphire,
Emerald, Garnet, Topaz, Lapis, Citron,
 Purple
 Neons
 Excess of Silver or Gold
 Excess of Turquoise
 Pink
 Fuschia

 Silk (for shirt)
 Brocade
 Velvet
 Satin (for lining)
 100% Polyester
 Taffeta
 Doubleknit
 Camouflage
 Rip Stop

 Blue Jean

 Copper
 Bronze
 Pewter
 Small amount of metallic Silver
 Less amount of metallic Gold
 Grosgrain
 Satin ribbon
 More ornate upholstery gimp
 Trims are similar to peasant class,
however, you would show off your
standing by utilizing more trim
 Metal buttons
 Covered buttons
 French knot or Rope buttons
 Frogs
 Hooks & eyes
 Ivory buttons
 Pearl buttons
 Scrimshaw buttons


Fabric today is expensive; gone are the days when fabric was
added for luck. The following is a rough estimate of the amount
of fabric required to make a costume. The most common widths
of fabric are: 36 inches, 45 inches, 54 inches, and 60 inches. Most
patterns are calculated in yards and inches. To calculate the
number of yards you require, work out the total number of inches
per pattern piece and divide by 36. On an average, a costume
requires the following amounts of yards or inches in face or top

Bodice 18 to 20 inches
Sleeves 20 to 30 inches per sleeve (depending on type)

Blouse 2 to 3 yards
Chemise 4-1/2 yards
Skirt 5 to 7 yards (depending on fullness)
picadils, etc.
45 inches
Doublet or
jerkin body
2-1/4 yards
Sleeves for
one yard per sleeve Since ancient times, the color
purple was a sign of royalty and worn by kings
and emperors (depending on type)
Shirt 4 yards
Breeches or
3-1/2 yards
picadils, etc.
52 inches

The average, total number of yards per costume:

 for a woman is 12 to 15 yards
 for a man is 5 to 8 yards

These yardage calculations are based on 45" wide fabric and do
not take into account fabrics with nap or stripes.