The Tudor Dress
Style of a Tudor Dress
The Tudor dress was made up of a collection of different and separate items. The Tudor dress consisted of an overskirt which was split in the middle in a 'v-shape' to reveal the front panel of the kirtle. The overskirt was attached to a bodice to form the dress. There were two different types of bodice with a high neck or a low neck
- The Low, square necked bodice for one style
- The High necked bodice for another Tudor gown style
The Tudor Dress, Kirtle and Train
The Tudor gown consisted of a dress and kirtle, an underskirt and an overskirt. The Kirtle was the underskirt. The kirtle consisted of the bodice and skirt sewn together and fell in ample folds below which trailed on the ground to form a train. Some of the skirt panels were also extended to form trains but these were impractical and only used for important occasions. Trains varied in length but became shorter after 1530 and disappeared by about about 1540.
A farthingale was worn beneath a Tudor dress which was a hoop worn beneath a skirt to extend it horizontally. They were also referred to as Verdingales they were shaped like a funnel or a barrel.
- The Spanish farthingale provided a straight line from the waist to the hem of a dress
- The French farthingale, called the French Wheel, provided a domed shape from the waist to the hem of a dress
Rolls were also worn under the dress, tied around the waist, which supported the weight of the skirt and assisted the farthingale in enabling the skirt to extend horizontally. The kirtle, covered the farthingale and roll. The front of the kirtle, was highly decorated as it formed the front of the dress - the other, unseen, panels of the underskirt were usually made of less expensive material.
The Geometric shape of the Tudor Dress
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the style of dress and fashions worn by rich Tudor women of the Upper Class were influenced by geometric shapes rather than the natural shape of the body. To achieve these geometric shapes padding (bombast) and quilting, together with the use of whalebone or buckram for stiffening purposes, were used to gain this geometric effect and dress fashion. Corsets were worn under gowns to give a flattened and triangular shape.
Sleeves on the Tudor Dress
The sleeves on a Tudor dress came in a variety of styles and some even had padding. The sleeves on a Tudor dress were added separately by being tied or pinned to the dress. There were padded 'wings' on the shoulders of the Tudor dress which concealed the joins of the sleeves. Ruffs were added to the the collar area of the dress and occasionally around the cuffs.
Tudor Dress Materials and Fabrics
Tudor dress materials were expensive - silk, satin, velvet, taffeta, scarlet and sarcenet. Sarcenet was a delicate silk fabric and the scarlet referred to is not the color but reference to a plain fabric. Many of these sumptuous materials and the dyes that were needed to produce their rich colors were imported, at great expense, from the continent and the Middle East. Cloth of Silver, Tinselled satin, silk, or cloth mixed or embroidered with any gold were often worn. These fabulous material and colors were only allowed to be worn by rich, Upper Class women, according to their class and rank which were decreed by the Tudor Sumptuary Laws or Statutes of Apparel. The rich fabrics were further embellished with fine needlework and embroidery and decorated with jewels, spangles, pearls which further increased the price of such a dress made in this fashion.
Tudor Fashion of the 'slashed' dress
The restrictions placed on Tudor dress and clothing according to status and rank led to a new fashion being created. Tudor women began to make cuts in or to 'slash' their clothes. The slash or cut in the outer surfaces of garments, which included dresses, exposed the contrasting color of the linings beneath. The linings would be pulled through the slash and puffed out to further emphasize the contrast of colors, fabrics and materials. An alternative to the 'slashed' garment was to 'pink' the material of the dress. Pinking was cutting a specific shape, commonly a diamond shape, from the dress to allow the fabric beneath to be pulled through - a more delicate form of slashing. Tudor dress came in a variety of different colors and designs which were slashed, jagged, cut, carved, pinked and laced with all kinds of different colors.
Each section of this Tudors website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about Tudor Dress. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of the Tudors!