The Meaning of Renaissance and Medieval Clothing Colors
This post is designed to meet the needs of people looking for the symbolic meanings of Medieval and Renaissance clothing colors. It also describes the colors worn by certain members of society.
The meaning of colors is not a simple and exact body of knowledge. Even during the Renaissance and Medieval periods, the meanings of colors were debated (more about this below the list). So, consider yourself forewarned about the vagaries of color symbolism in clothing. The list below, while not comprehensive, does provide ideas from secondary sources about what different colors represented and how they were used.
Reds - Renaissance
High social status, royalty, gentlemen, men of justice. (1)
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). (2)
Cosmopolitan man with access to international trading centers. (3)
Power and prestige. (4)
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. (5)
At the universities of Padua and Bologna, red was symbolic of medicine. (6)
Reds - Medieval
’A lover wears vermilion, like blood’ (later Middle Ages). (7)
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. (8)
Sometimes the color of the Virgin Mary’s robes. (5)
The color of kings, identified with kingly virtues of valor and success in war. Also, fire. (9)
Firestone sandals wouldn't go with the Anderson & Sheppard suit, I reckon.
In this case, I suppose the red must be indicative of the satanic and the fires of hell?
In an African setting, Mugabe is the equivalent of royalty. He also is a "cosmopolitan man with access to international trading centers". What about "power and prestige", "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".