Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Snapshot of Tudor Fashion

Remember a few months ago when I gave my friend Vicki some advice on Elizabethan clothing? Well, I've been reading some Tudor England novels lately, and it got me thinking about 16th century English fashion again. I decided to create a sort of info graphic, to give newcomers to the era a rough idea of the style progression for women. 

Anne Boleyn - 1530
Here Anne represents the best of what we know as the "Tudor Dress." Low, square neckline, with sleeves just reaching the tips of the shoulders, furs trimming the oversleeve, and split skirt. Hoopskirts had just arrived in England at the turn of the century, imported by Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon under the name "farthingale." Styles didn't change much in England over the first quarter of the century, but one difference that Anne herself made popular was the trend of wearing the French Hood (seen here) as opposed to the heavy, 'house shaped' English Gable.

Young Elizabeth Tudor - 1550
Twenty years later, England is solidly and austerely Protestant. Although the basic cut of the gowns remains the same, necklines were filled with modest linen collars, and sleeves began to narrow. Fabrics were also darker, less ostentatious and "worldly." This was a trend that Elizabeth continued after her sister Mary I ascended and returned brighter, heavily embellished fashions to vogue, in order to set herself apart from the new, Catholic court.

Queen Elizabeth I - 1565
From here until the end of the century we move into what is traditionally known as "Elizabethan" fashion - what you will see in a historically accurate Shakespearean production. The narrow sleeves, the big ruffs, puffed sleeve caps, and plenthora of jewels. As "The Virgin Queen" Elizabeth could wear her famous red hair down around her shoulders, a privilege not granted to married women.

Obviously this is a very rudimentary guide, and different leading women chose different styles to express themselves, but I felt these three 'snapshots' would be a good introduction to the fashions of Tudor England. Some small details are off, as Doll Divine is limited by the presets, but overall I think it's fairly accurate. For a more detailed, in-depth look at the progression of English fashion, I highly recommend "Costume" by John Peacock. 

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