Something about Tudor costume

Tudor England is well known for its beautiful and ornate clothes, especially during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Nobles demonstrated their wealth and stressed their high social standing by their wearing rich and expensive clothes at the court, where they attended festivities in all pomp and splendour.


In the Tudor period, female clothes were actually split into many different parts, and sleeves & foresleeves (false sleeves for the lower arms that were decorative and had ties to attach them to the gown sleeves) were separate, which is why noblewomen could create different handsome and trendy outfits by mixing and matching these parts.

However, queen’s ladies-in-waiting were obliged to follow certain rules in choosing their clothes, so they could wear the same outfit, I think. Queens had many rich and expensive gowns, and Anne Boleyn, a true fashion icon of her time, had a lot of expensive clothes, probably several hundred gowns.


It was difficult to put on an elaborate and trendy gown in the Tudor period, and getting dressed took quite some time for a woman.

Mikhaila and Malcolm-Davies, the Tudor Tailor team (check their website), write on their website that

a woman’s outer clothes consisted of various combinations of petticoat, kirtle, gown and jacket” and “which of these she wore, and how many of them at one time, depended upon her rank, the weather, the occasion and the gradual evolution of fashion through the century.”


The minimum number of layers worn by a Tudor woman was four – smock, petticoat, kirtle, and gown.

Some extras could include a farthingale (a hooped underskirt), a forepart(a triangular piece of fabric which is fastened in the way that it shows beneath the opening in the overskirt), and a partlet (a piece of light fabric like lawn or linen which was used to cover low necklines and shoulders), and a hood (a French hood, which was very popular when Anne Boleyn was a star of the English court and then became Queen of England, and a Gable hood, which replaced a French hood in fashion when Henry VIII married Jane Seymour).

I think you need a little more insight into female clothing in the Tudor period (the info is taken here).



The smock was the first layer of the Tudor lady’s ensemble. It could have been made of linen, and it was the only layer to that was washed frequently. The most common shape of the smock was with a low, square neckline that just showed to the inside of the kirtle and overgown. The sleeves were somewhat full, with a ruffle at the wrist that showed beyond the undersleeves of the kirtle.



A petticoat is an underskirt, with or without an attached bodice. It is believed that some petticoats were padded or quilted to stiffen them slightly to hold out the skirts. Farthingales, stiffened with reed bents or whalebone, were not worn in England until the middle of the 16th century, based on wardrobe accounts.



The kirtle was the next layer, and likely the one that provided the most support to the outfit. Separate boned bodies (corsets) are not mentioned until Elizabeth’s reign, so it is likely that any shaping of the body would have been achieved by stiffening the upper bodies of the kirtle.



The Tudor gown was a square-necked dress with attached sleeves and skirts, worn over the kirtle. It makes the most sense for a gown of this type to open at the centre front, since the skirts are split down the front. The smooth front appears to be achieved by the use of a placard over a centre front opening.


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