Tudor Women


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Where to begin? My research as taken me to amazing websites and recourses! The Tudor era is packed with exciting information about their garments. I have learned in my recent research that there are differences in clothing within this same era. For starters, there are the “Henry” fashions, which refers to king Henry VIII, and the Elizabethan fashions. It really makes sense, too, once you see the two styles side by side. A lot of similarities, and yet, quite different. In this post I am going to illustrate what women wore between 1485-1603. (This is when the Tudor family was on the throne of England.) In my next post I will cover what women wore during the Elizabethan era. In comparison there are some movies I will use to show modern interpretation; what is correct about them and was isn’t.

Henry the VIII reined from 1509 to his death in 1547. The basic women’s style during this timeframe had a very specific shape; triangular bodice with a square neck line and a bell skirt. Detail and intricacy were very much a part of fashion. In fact, one’s status was derived by what one wore. For example, rich women could were silks, however, this would be impractical for peasant women. Rich ladies’ bodices laced in the back because they could afford servants to lace it for them. Peasant’s laced in front so to do it themselves. Upper classes had  larger quantities of clothes allowing them to change into clean ones often. Lower classes had only a few; wearing the same clothing (inside and out) for weeks before being able to change or wash. Details like these mattered back then. For example in today’s society, someone who can afford a Lexis or Prada is considered to have money. Things don’t change much.

We thought women take long getting ready now a-days? Just try putting on all these layers!

Here’s what an upper class lady would wear:

Layer number one: The smock was nightgown like in looks and often doubled as one. Being closest to the body it kept the outwear clean of body oils and was the easiest and most practical piece to wash. In earlier posts I’ve referred to this piece as a chemise, which is the French word. My research has shown me that the Italian word for basically the same thing is, camicia. All these, smock (English), chemise and camicia served the same purpose, however, each country and each fashion style had its differences. (Technically speaking.)

A smock

A smock

This photo cracks me up. Women would never have danced in public in nothing but their underwear.

This photo cracks me up! Women would never have danced in public in nothing but their underwear. Also, corsets weren’t “in” yet. There was no such thing as see through fabric and the smock is suppose to be the first layer. We won’t even get into what he’s wearing!

Number two: An out fit wasn’t complete without stockings; typically they are called hosiery. Over that went the petticoats. This is a French word as well meaning, “little coat”.

Number three: Over those first two layers went the kirtle. I found a beautiful website that has great explanations and illustrations for this piece. Check out  The writer there states that the kirtle is attached to a bodice that showed slightly at the neckline under the over gown’s bodice. On the skirt half there could be an attached decorative panel, or embellishment, sewn on directly. This would be called a forepart. There was no holding back on how much to put on the forepart. They would go all out! Gold in the embroidery, maybe even jewels! Imagine the weight. Not only from all those skirts, but all the extra frills. The purpose of garnishing the kirtle was so that it would show through the over gown. Another good website is–1550_in_fashion. Great pictures and explanations.

This is an image from the Ann Boleyn File website. The best illustration I could find of a kirtle. The girl who's modeling it, made it too! Great job!

This is an image from the Ann Boleyn File website. The best illustration I could find of a kirtle. The girl who’s modeling it, made it too! Great job!

Dress to impress! At last, the outer gown, layer number four, was the item to really splurge on. And these people knew how to splurge! Weaving in gold and precious stones to the fabrics. Wow! The best of the best, finest of the finest fabric made the outer clothing layers. Especially for the elite. The outer bodice and skirt were separate pieces fallowing the same shape and style that of the under garments. Meaning, the neck lines were all square, the bodices were fitted, and the over skit was still in a bell shape. Only the skirt opened in the front to allow the forepart to show through. Attached at the waist was a chain girdle which hung down mid way, and could have a purse, or tassels at the end.

Catherine Parr. Notice the sleeves are the same as the forepart. The outer sleeve is a trumpet shape and the inner sleeve is slashed. Also, some sleeves could be just fitted.

Catherine Parr. Notice the sleeves are the same as the forepart. The outer sleeve is a trumpet shape and the inner sleeve is slashed. Also, some sleeves could be just fitted. Also there is the chain girdle hanging down from her waist.


Anne Cleves

Anne Cleves. Lookin’ a little Princes Leia-ish there with how the gable is shaped on the sides like that.

Sleeves were layered too! Trumpet sleeves were early in the era and it transformed into round full sleeve by the later half. A full sleeve inside the trumpet could match the forepart, and in may pictures you’ll see that the inner sleeve has the same slashes as mentioned in my earlier post about men’s fashion.

My inside scour from tells me that the whole show used a lot of theatrical cuts in the costuming, but its fun to look at how they put in the elaborate garnishes like they would have during that time.

A modern glimpse of a highly decorated bodice. This is a correct interpretation. Except she isn’t wearing a correct kirtle or smock underneath. How do I know this? You can’t see it. In all the historical portraits you can see multiple layers at the neckline.

Jane Seymour.

Jane Seymour.

To cap it off everyone, no matter what their status, wore a coif– a woman’s close-fitting cap. Today, nuns still wear them. The richer ladies would wear a hood over the coif called a gable hood, and the poor ones would wear just a coif.

The gable hood was a headdress named for it’s shape of a house gable. The French hood was rounded and the English hood was pointed. It was decorated on the sides, and at the back was a veil.

English gable hood

English gable hood

Mary Tudor  wearing a French gable hood. With Charles Brandon

Mary Tudor wearing a French gable hood. With Charles Brandon

Wa-lah! There is a summery of what women would have worn in the early 1500’s. In the photos below I will point out some comparisons of modern costumes.

To be Continued…

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to say thank you for all your encouraging comments and support! Also, I probably wont be posting anything new until after my wedding. So, hopefully in October we’ll pick back up with women’s fashion in the Tudor era! I just didn’t want y’all to be waiting for new posts between now and then. 🙂 

Men’s Tudor Era Fashion

My post may be far and few in between, but we will get through the ages of fashion!   We’re about to delve into the Tudor era. I have separated the posts for men’s fashion and women’s fashion. Enjoy! King Henry VIII (1492-1547) was the second Tudor to come to the throne of England in the 15th century. He succeeded his father Henry VII in 1505. The Tudor era can, some- times, be easily out shined by the Elizabethan era when it comes to fashion. However, the Tudors knew how to dress!  And, it’s going to get might complicated and strangely fascinating!  The TV series, The Tudors, is what I will use to compare the Tudors of today to the real ones of the 15th century. Men’s fashion was becoming more stylish during this time compared to what it had been in previous eras. One of the most notable changes was that people were starting to have fun with different kinds of sleeves.  They used varying lengths and widths and crazy cuffs of all sorts.

So, there you have a quick basic overview of men’s, royal Tudor costume. It was a fascinating time in history. It was the simmer before the boil of the Renaissance which really got life busy and took fashion to an extent it had never seen before!  But, that’s another post.   In my research I found this neat website on Tudor history for anyone who is interested in that family and era. 🙂

Middle Ages! (At last)

Happy New Year Everyone! What a season this has been – I got engaged!!! 😀 Very excited! Planning a wedding, plus full time school, equals a fun and busy year.  Also, I want to thank you all for your encouraging comments on my posts! Thank you! 🙂

Anyhow, I have totally missed my blog! We left off at the Middle Ages. For this post I’d like to compare real-deal 400-1300”s clothes to New LIne Cinema’s movie, The Lord of the Ring. Lord of the Ring (my all time favorite movie),  pretty much sets the Hollywood standard of Medieval clothing.

The Lord of the Ring does an intriguing take on the women’s clothing and gives us a glimpse as to what the clothes were like.  There are two dresses that Eowyn wears, but for simplicity’s sake I’m only focusing on the chemise dress. There are three main parts or layers. The chemise, is an underdress. Often women would sleep in their chemise. Over the chemise would be the bliaut. (Good luck on pronouncing that.) On top of the bliaut was corset and belt, although corsets at this time weren’t a tight hourglass shape. Instead, it was a natural fit. Layers were quite important during the Middle Ages to help keep people warm.

The Lord of the Ring also gives a good idea of what men would have worn, too.  King Theodon wears garb similar to that of the Saxons in the early Dark Ages. This look was a short tunic that came to the knees. Tunics were cut so that only the side seam would need sewing. For people of a higher rank, like a king, it would have a decorative robe or long tunic over their short tunic. Men wore this type of fashion for many centuries with minor variations (see photos below). Men’s fashion doesn’t change much until the Renaissance. However,  women’s wear shows more changes as the Middle Ages progress.

What I like about Srider’s costume are:

  1. How the shoulders of his coat and vest are laced on. A sign of authenticity.
  2. How the designers thought about detail using many layers of natural fiber fabrics, such as leather and wool, creating an authentic appearance.
  3. Last but not least the leather and detail on his van braces.

There you have it! A brief over view of that clothing was like between 460 and the 1300s as illustrated by the costumes in The Lord of the Ring. Below are some websites and a McCall’s pattern for the dress.

This website is a cool overview

This website is from an amazing, and knowledgable fashion expert. My sister did a drawing of Strider for this site, and it’s also posted below. 🙂 Definitely encourage anyone who is into costumes to check out this website.

Even though The Lord of the Ring is an old movie now, it really did set the gold standard for interpreting historical dress of the dark ages and it deserves close study.

My Costumes for Sale!


Tis the season to be scary! We get an official day dress up!!!

I am in the process of starting an online sewing business. Costumes are my favorite items to sew, and I’m turning that joy into a business. I live in a small town without much oprotunity, so I hope to make some of my own by selling costumes! 🙂 Let me know what you think!

I also take commissions if anyone is interested in ordering a costume from me. At this moment I only have small sizes, but let me know and I can make any of these a different size. 🙂

Colors, by Stylewise: InsideOut Style and Fashion

My friends at Stylewise are sharing with us some wonderful insight about today’s fashion. (Thought it would be a nice break in midst of all my history.) I found this an inspirational article filled with good advice! And that’s not all they have, check ’em out at, Enjoy!

All Things Bright and Beautiful: Incorporating Bright Colors into Your Closet

{Stylewise: InsideOut Style & Fashion}

No longer relegated to inhabit the summer months exclusively, bright colors are here to stay through fall and winter. One of my favorite trends, I love the idea of brightening the gray winter landscape with vivid color! So let’s look at how we can incorporate this trend into our everyday outfits.

6 Tips for Wearing Bright Colors:

  1. Know your colors. Know which ones look the best on you and if you don’t know already, here is a simple test. Put the item close to your face in front of the mirror. Does it make you look like you have circles under your eyes? Or does your skin look radiant and your eyes bright? If the color doesn’t work near your face, but you still really love it, wear it lower down on your body, a skirt, pants, or shoes
  2. Since no one wants to look like a walking rainbow (well, most people don’t anyway) it is important to balance out color with neutral pieces and only do a limited number of colors at a time.
  3.  If you are wary about this trend, try one bright piece at a time. Nothing makes a jeans-and-turtleneck outfit pop like a vivid purple scarf or a bright pink bag!
  4. Don’t be afraid to try new things. So maybe there’s this skirt in you closet that you only wear with one certain top (you know which one I’m talking about). Next time you reach for it, pair it with something new, a bright color that either contrast with it or complements it. Yes, you can wear things that don’t “technically” match. And it can look fabulous.
  5. If you want one statement piece, go for a pair of color-saturated flats. You can wear them with almost anything and they go a long way toward making a boring outfit into an amazing one.
  6. Have fun! Experiment with different colors and color combinations. A beautiful color can make your day!

And now, a list of beautifully colored items to brighten up your fall wardrobe! Hand picked by me, great colors and great prices:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Steam Punk

Hello Everyone,

I was asked to write a guest post on Style Wise’s fashion blog. They are a great blog with the latest tips about today’s fashion. You’ll even see some of their work here on my blog! Check them out at,


Here is my post:  (The photos below are in order with the text. )

From the beautiful age of Victorian clothing sprouts the fun, fantastic, and futuristic style of steam-punk. Its foundation began when authors like Jules Vern and G.H. Wells wrote stories about machinery that could take you to the bottom of the ocean, or to another time. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and The Time Machine, were the forerunners of what we call steam-punk today. Now, this style is very fantastical, they didn’t wear steam-punk back in the ninetieth century!  Actually, it wasn’t labeled “steam-punk” until the 1980’s, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2000’s get the credit of nurturing the style along. It opens up a whole new level of creativity! Something that I think really appeals to people today.

There are two elements that define steam-punk. The first is steam! It refers to the steam developments during the ninetieth century. Today we have high-tech technology; in steam-punk they have high-tech machinery. They took the steam engine and perfected it. It’s where we get all the gears and gadgets on the clothing.

Steam is also how we know that steam-punk is Victorian influenced. It was during Queen Victoria’s reign that the steam development took place. But, if steam-punk isn’t historically accurate, then what was? Good question, just like there are key elements to defining this fantasy style, there are key elements to help you spot a historically accurate costume.

First, is the fabric that was used in the ninetieth century – they used what we call “natural fibers” today. Silks, cottons, and wools were used. Another key is shape; this came from the corsets both men and women wore during this time frame. Yes, men wore a type of corset too. Can you imagine!

In the Victorian era you’ll see corset shape like these: Ranging from natural-ish looking, supper skinny, to the S shape.

Things like war, trade growth, and new kings or queens were huge influences on fashion all throughout time, too. These few key elements can help define a historically correct costume. Here are some photos from the Victorian era. Note that war, the American Cilvil War is an element that changed the shape and style. In the 1880’s the American style was the big hoop skirts, where as, in England skirts were more slender.

The Victorian era covered a long time span.  So, we see the influence it had on steam- punk.  There’s different types of steam-punk that have developed; cowboy steam-punk, as in Wild, Wild, West with Will Smith is one of them.

History though Fashion – Byzantine

Ok, so, being lost in the land of school books and papers, fighting the professor lords against the dark forces of studying, rescuing grades in distress, and recovering my good name, it has been super busy lately! Though, I will add my grades are not in distress. 🙂

Here, we go onto Byzantine! The city that roughly started around 330 (just before the fall of Rome) to the 1453 – that’s practically through the Dark Ages. The Byzantine Empire lasted a long time, nearly 1200 years! Note though, the dates of the empire are fuzzy and no one is quite sure when it specifically started and ended.

I am so excited about this era in modern fashion! Channel recently did a line inspired from the Byzantine time period. What a find!

Byzantium was the bridge in time connecting the fall of Rome to the Dark Ages. That’s a loose interpretation, but its accurate enough. Byzantine was an aloof empire and at its heart, Constantinople didn’t share a lot of its knowledge.

We’re going to see the beginnings of ornate detail trickle into style. Constantine was big on Christianity and a lot of focus went to architecture, and from that there are many frescos and icons that illustrate the fashion of the day. Though they’re still very robe-like we do see that stitching was coming in. The elements of similarity that I am focussing on in this demo are the neck lines. You will see in the following photos heavy, ornate, and jeweled neck lines. You will find, however, there isn’t a lot to compare, but a few hints are found.

Today’s inspiration is fun and exciting.  I adore the Byzantium influence in these modern clothes! Byzantine fashion:

History Through Fashion – Greece

“To our left is Hercules’ villa. Next stop, the Pecs and Flex gift shop, where you can buy the great hero’s new 30-minute workout scroll, “Buns of Bronze.” Hercules, 1997. Not much has changed, huh? Which do you think Hercules would be, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, or Taylor Loutner? The gods were the pops stars of ancient Greece – today’s star probably would like to think they are decedents of them. Beauty was just coming into style during the beginnings of ancient Greece. (Yes, beauty had to come into style, unlike today’s beauty-less styles–more about that later.) The Greeks captured this in the timeless capsules of the statues of the gods.

Hera, the goddess of marriage; Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty; these legends not only left tall tales of heroic women with love and beauty beyond compare, say for Helen of Troy, they also left the beauty of soft feminine dresses. Which we happen to see a lot in our fashion today, especially in wedding gowns.

Now it may be asked, what did the men wear in ancient times? Basically, like men today, they didn’t care too very much. A lot of the masculines went around with nothing on at all! In the many paintings and statues you will find that the men aren’t wearing more then a himation–more than a wash cloth, less than a kilt, (see Apollo statue below). Similar to what the women wore, the men also wore chitons. Only theirs were shorter in length. Women’s chitons were distinguished in the same manner as their architectural columns; ionic and doric, with a himations for a touch of flare.

Fashion then: