Sunday, January 16, 2011

Question from Taryn - Fashion of Henry VIII's reign

Hi all, I'm a bit of a historical fashion buff and I have a two part question, and I'm sorry that it's so long:

First, does anyone know of any good books that detail the fashions (both male and female) of the reign of Henry VIII? I'm particularly interested in somehting that can contrast the differences in male fashion of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon and the marriage of Catherine Parr full on until his death, but anything on women's fashion and sumptuary laws would be amazing.

Second, I would like to know if modern day mediums (such as the Showtime series and other fiction books I've read) are correct in that for the sake of masques and other costumed affairs that normal propriety could be shirked and men and women could be seen in very little (for the time). I realize fiction is never a good place for historical fact, but I am curious as to whether it would have been possible for a woman to go without a chemise underneath of her bodice for the sake of costume!

Thank you all very much for your time.


Susan Higginbotham said...

There's a book called Rich Apparel by Maria Hayward that focuses on the sumptuary laws and on what fabrics and colors the various social groups wore.

tudor princess said...

Another good book by Maria Hayward on this subject is "Dress at the Court of Henry VIII" which delves into some depth into the wardrobe of Henry and his queens and family.

"The Tudor Tailor" by Jane Malcolm- Davies and Ninya Mikhaila reconstructs Tudor dress (there are patterns in it for making various Tudor garments including a chemise and a lady's court dress from the time of Henry VIII and they also have a very good website with further information on. Their book also takes in the Elizabethan era too.

Jane Ashelford's "Visual History of Costume in the Sixteenth Century" is out of print but recommended as it literally goes through the century from year to year so you get a good idea of how costume developed. There is also a book by Lena Rangstrom called, "Lions of Fashion - Male Fashion of the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries" but I think it is out of print and I haven't personally got a copy.

In answer to your question about masques, there is very little information about costume worn in the reign of Henry VIII (there may be some extant descriptions eg Henry liked to dress up as Robin Hood!).

There is more on Elizabethan and Jacobean masques - in "Artists of the Tudor Court" by Roy Strong, there is a chapter on tournaments and masques with illustrations of ladies in masque dress. The ladies have not abandoned their chemises but wear highly- transparent chemises (probably from fine lawn) under which can be seen their breasts which means this was a very sexy look! This was topped off with some very elaborate headresses.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Tudor Princess, eek! That list is not helping my Amazon budget any!

Coralee said...

This is a fabulous website - jam packed filled with costume through the ages and has a wonderful section on the Tudor period (dress throughout Europe) - women's attire only - but fascinating. Make sure you dig deep, as there are albums, and sub-albums, etc - with lots of links about the women wearing the dresses...