Military Clothes of the 1600s

Written by sam kellenberg
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Military Clothes of the 1600s
Renaissance styles in uniform design were still very much evident throughout the 1600s. ( Images)

The 1600s saw the end of the European Renaissance and the rise in use of firearms in military service. As such, it was a time of dramatic change in the military uniforms of many nations. Uniforms were beginning the transition to become more standardised as the division of labour facilitated the development of mass production techniques, and the 16th century was the twilight of such individualised dress codes as those used by the famous Landsknechte.

British Red Coats

The famous red coats of the British military first came into fashion during the latter part of the 17th century, and were often thickly skirted and worn beneath steel breastplates. Historical records have preserved both prints and examples of these early designs, which are believed to have first been circulated in 1687.

The Bandolier

The 1600s gave rise to a great increase in the use of flintlock firearms, which necessitated a variety of ancillary equipment: namely bullet bags and powder horns. These were often attached to bandoliers, a type of leather belt that went diagonally from one shoulder to the opposite hip.

Landsknechte Dress

The Landsknechte were some of the highest paid mercenary troops of the era, and after being given the right by Maxamilian I to wear whatever colours they wished, were also known as the most garishly clothed. They were famous for the "Puff and Slash," which was a loose, outer layer of clothing that was literally slashed to reveal the complementary colour of the tight clothing beneath. Landsknechte were also well known for wearing enormous, brightly-feathered hats.


Epaulettes were first introduced in the late 1600s to the French navy, where they were used as an indicator of rank and a shoulder rest for muskets. They did not become widely used, however, until the mid-1700s, at which time their use also spread into that of other European armies.

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