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How do you feel about dressing like Juliet? Or is Portia more your style? In a boon for literature fans everywhere, a number of unexpectedly Renaissance-inspired styles have recently become pretty popular. These styles and accessories add a romantic, dramatic touch to everyday outfits and really punch up party looks, too. Try them out this year, because these trends aren’t going anywhere yet.

(Portrait of a lady with a square neck, big sleeves, and huge puff headdress, by Bernardino Licinio, 1489–1565.)

Big, round headbands

You’ve seen these all over Instagram. They look like the headbands worn by women in Renaissance portraits, or like a colorful halo. The headband is very thick—a contrast from the very thin ones popular in the nineties—and often decorated with pearls or made with fancy fabrics such as velvet.

(Isabella of Portugal sports a huge headband in the sixteenth century in this portrait probably by William Scrots.)

(In 2019 Beth Jones is all over the Renaissance headband style.)

Big sleeves

The recent Golden Globes red carpet confirmed it just in case there was any doubt: big sleeves are back. This can include poet or “Juliet” sleeves, puffy sleeves with or without a big shoulder, bell sleeves, and many other voluminous versions. Make no mistake—2020 is the year of the sleeve.

(A woman with a square neck and big sleeves in this painting by Corneille de Lyon, 1500–1575.)

(Zoey Deutch in big bell sleeves at the 2020 Golden Globes.)

(Lady Gaga with sleeves, a big skirt, and a train at the Golden Globes.)

(Anthro square-neck dress with puffed sleeves.)

(Poet’s sleeves in gingham keep you cool in the summer!)


A variety of open necklines is also popular right now. Off-the-shoulder styles and square, Queen Anne, and big scoop necklines all hearken back to the square-ish neckline you know and love from, for instance, on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

(Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, c. 1503–1519.)

(Portrait of a Lady, c. 1527–1537. The sitter for this portrait wears a headband and off-the-shoulder dress.)

(Paolo Caliari’s Portrait of a Woman in a square neckline, 1565.)

(Anthropologie dress with sweetheart neckline and puffed sleeves.)

(Gal Meets Glam dress with a square neckline and big sleeves—note the added headband!)

Embrace these Renaissance trends this spring, and have fun pretending you are in your favorite Shakespeare play!