The early 16th century was a time a great conflict in Western Europe. Nations were being formed and Empires founded. Many developments were made in the craft of armour but at the same time armour was being abandoned by some troop types. There was a greater variety of troop types and armour needs.
Many of the armour styles from the late 15th century were still in use into the first few decades of the century but there were styles in development that were very different. Often these became blended into the common style of the time.
Sallets were still widely used by both infantry and cavalry units. Many of the styles where the same as they were in the late 15th century. There were some unique to the 16th century but it is not necessary that someone should get one of these for a 16th century suit. A wide variety of kettle hats were worn by infantry as well. Burgonets were also appearing in the early century as an infantry and light cavalry helm. Armets were still used by fully armored cavalry and heavily armour foot troops in 3/4 suits and the Closed Helm started to appear. The great Bascinet did not however make the transition into the new century in any number.
There was a wide variety of body armour in use. While the latest developments in plate had replaced the horizontally segmented breastplate of the late 15th century with a solid globous shaped breastplate the old style continued to be used especially in Germany. Brigandines and covered breastplates were also still in use but the covered breastplates followed the pattern of the newer armour developments. Brigandines were very similar to those used in the 15th century.
Leg armour was far less common especially among infantry. What leg armour there was rarely went down pas the knee. The legs were often protected by long tassets that sometimes ended in knee armour but sometimes stopped just above the knee. Some plate leg armour was in use and much of it was similar to that used in the late 15th century.
Arms defense was also less common among the infantry and light cavalry but some forms did exist. The German style floating elbow was very common among the infantry as were simple pauldrons and shovel vambraces and rebraces that only covered half the arm. Fully articulated arms were used but the elbow had changed from the conical style of the late 15th century to a domed style. When gauntlets were worn they were most often mitten gauntlets. Finger gauntlets seem to have become very uncommon at the time perhaps due to the increased mixing of halbards and greatswords into pike formations.
A great variety of fashion was worn with and over armour. Swiss and German styles were the most popular through out Europe. These styles were baggier in general than those of the late 15th century and were often worn over the armour. The clothing was often heavily slashed letting the under garments and or the armour beneath it to show through. This style became so universal that often the only way to differentiate between Swiss and German solders is by the type of slashed crosses in their garments. The Swiss slashed a Swiss cross, +, and the Germans a Burgundian saltier cross, X. A slightly baggy knee length over hose where often work on the legs and were often heavily slashed.
As far as adapting early 16th century armour and military fashion to SCA combat goes it is both one that requires little hard plate armour but the plate that is needed is usually very expensive. Helmet and gauntlets are all that are really required for early 16th century armour however you can include much more plate if you like. There were a number of garments worn over upper body armour that hide most if not all of it so one can achieve a fairly armored look by only adding plate legs to the required Helmet and gauntlets. A very low profile set of arms and body defenses can be constructed out of whatever materials suit you as many of the fashions. As far as leg defenses go I have seen some very convincing early 16th century leg defenses made in much the same manner as a gamboised leg defense covered with some slashed knee length hose. Also a set of simple knee cops minus fans can be attached to leather or plastic upper legs armour and hidden under a pair of slightly baggy outer hose.
The above drawing is one I did for Michael who sent me the photo below of his existing gear. He wanted something that would work well for the early 16th century. He plans to add more plate but wants some period looking for the interim. This was a quite simple adaptation. I have chosen to give his a look similar to a light cavalry trooper. The Surcoat is similar to the one in the Albrecht Durer wood cut below and the ones worn by the attendants in the illumination below of a joust Henery VIII took part in. While both of these show an un pleated sleeve I have chosen to show a pleated one I have come across of several occasions for a bit of variety. The boots are a round toed riding boots with the tops turned down. The were most popular in the late 15th century for light cavalry but still used in the first decade or so of the 16th century by the same kind of troopers. While a lot of plate is shown it could easily be replaced by simpler defenses hidden by clothing similar to the baggy armed garment in the Durer wood cut and the slightly baggy pants in the wood cut of an early 16th century German greatswordsman.
More drawings to come on this one.