Shakespeare's folk characters are as rustic, bawdy and simple as their clothes. While nobles and royalty characters wore elaborate outfits with luxurious fabrics, the common folks had plain clothing made from homespun rough materials in muted colours. The everyday features and down-to-earth styles of peasant costumes reflect the harsh struggles of ordinary people in many of Shakespeare's plays.
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Clothing for folk characters uses a limited palette of earth tone colours such as brown, black, grey and green because peasants dyed their clothes with colours from plants and tree barks. Characters of more social prominence wear the colours red, blue, orange and gold. Only members of royalty wear the colour purple.
Folk people made their own clothes from rough and simple materials such as wool, cotton and leather. Peasants wear cotton or leather hats and slip-on shoes or go barefoot. Clothes have patches on the elbows and knees and frayed edges on skirts and trousers. Peasant men wear a rope for a belt instead of leather one.
A peasant shirt is a wife's main garment and it extends to above the ankles. It is 2 inches shorter than the petticoat beneath it. The long-sleeved tunic has a high neckline and hangs over the skirt to fingertip length. A peasant wife wears a plain apron over the blouse that ties in the back and a scarf on her head.
A peasant male character wears a baggy pair of trousers and a long-sleeved tunic with a rope belt. He has a cloth or leather vest that laces over the tunic. The trousers extends to his mid-calf with black leggings under the trousers. His shoes are leather slip-ons and he wears a leather or cloth brimmed hat.
A costume for a male country traveller consists of a one-piece tunic that wraps around the body and ties with a rope for a belt. It has sleeves with frayed edges and an open neckline. The tunic's length reaches to above the ankles with frayed edges along the bottom. A hat, rustic walking stick and cloth knapsack complete the costume.
A costume for a wench or prostitute has a leather vest that laces in the front instead of an apron. A white blouse replaces the tunic and is a low-cut style with short sleeves. The peasant skirt and petticoat are similar in length as the peasant wife, but a burgundy or dark blue colour is acceptable for the wench's skirt.
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