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Tudor England is famous for its beautiful and ornate clothing, particularly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Clothes were a means of displaying how wealthy a person was. Rich people could afford clothing made of fine wool, linen or silk. Their clothes were decorated with jewels and embroidered with gold thread.
No rich person felt properly dressed to impress unless he or she was wearing a ruff. Like so many Tudor clothes, it gave a strong signal about the wealth and importance of the person wearing it.
Rich ladies wore padded skirts held up with loops. Over these went bodices and colourful floor-length gowns.
Rich men wore white silk shirts, frilled at the neck and wrists. Over this they wore a doublet (a bit like a tight-fitting jacket), and close-fitting striped trousers (called hose).
Everyone wore their hair shoulder length.
Why did the Tudors wear ruffs and why did the ladies wear stomachers and have to cover themselves up?
It was all to do with fashion, a bit like ripped jeans are today. It was the in thing to wear ruffs and for ladies to make their stomachs as small as they could by wearing corsets and wide skirts.
Poor people wore simple, loose-fitting clothes made from woollen cloth. Most men wore trousers made from wool and a tunic which came down to just above their knee. Women wore a dress of wool that went down to the ground. They often wore an apron over this and a cloth bonnet on their heads.
There are many paintings of Tudors especially the Tudor king and queens. By studying these paintings we can see what clothes were worn by the Tudors, especially rich Tudor people.
Women's clothing gave them a triangular shape. Their corsets were tight fitting making their waists very thin, while their petticoats and gowns were very wide.
Men's clothes made them look square. They wore short jackets and the shoulders of their coat were cut wide.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Click here to see more photographs
BBC Costume Game - a really good game where you fit the clothing item to the period mannequin
Tudor Fashion - Nettlesworth School
Tudor Costumes - Contains diagrams
Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I
Portraits of Tudor Kings and Queens
Tudor Clothes - Google Image result