Internet Shakespeare Editions


Exotic costumes

A miniature watercolour from the time of James I.
By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Most of the actors wore Elizabethan dress on stage, although special costumes represented Greek and Roman, Eastern, and supernatural characters.

The costumes were usually conventional, rather than historically accurate: a Roman wore a breastplate and a plumed helmet, while baggy pants and a scimitar represented an Oriental character. Peacham's drawing of Titus Andronicus illustrates this freedom in costuming, combining Roman dress with Elizabethan.

Even the costumes designed by the more consciously classical Inigo Jones for his court masques were more decorative than authentic, as the Roman costume illustrated here demonstrates.