There are many reasons for wearing stripes. As I mentioned in my last post, during the middle ages in european culture striped clothing was associated with the devil (via the Arab / infidel-culture link).
So when do stripes really become a fashion trend?
The Renaissance is the answer. It’s enough to look through a gallery of portraits to realize that by the middle of the 16th Century stripes were really “in”. By this time stripes had lost their negative connotations (Humanist culture of the 15th Century had brought about some fundamental changes to the way man related to God and religious culture in general). Conspicuous consumption was the fashion and investing in attention-seeking clothes was a necessity for anyone who had money and/or status (the two didn’t always go together but one could lead to the other).
What better way to grab attention than through bold, striking, striped clothing? Both men and women adopt what in other eras have been termed as “loud” stripes – thick, straight and chromatically strong. In the first decades of the 1500s we find this growing trend throughout Europe. Interestingly, at first, stripes tended to be created by stitching strips of contrasting colour onto a base textile. Eventually we find woven striped fabric being used instead.
Dosso Dossi, Alfonso I d’Este Duke of Ferrara, 1530c, ?
Germans were doing it as we can see in the portrait and the surviving garment bellow:
Lucas Cranach the elder, gentleman, 1532, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
Silk over gown (back view), part of set belonging to Elector Moritz of Saxony, 1530s, Abegg-Stiftung museum, Switzerland
Hans Holbein, Henry Brandon, 1541, Royal collection, Windsor Castle, UK
By the last quarter of the 16th Century, bold applied stripes had been replaced by equally attractive and equally expensive, striped silk
F. Pourbous the elder, gentleman of the Order of Calatrava, 1581, Rijks museum Amsterdam, Holland