Inspiration – Tudor

In December I got a couple of new costume books, including the Tudor Tailor! I have never made anything pre 1800, but I love the Tudor period in style, and I was very interested in the information and the patterns it would include. So far, I’ve been really happy with it, the background information is really nice, as I didn’t know a lot about this period. The patterns provided give options for creating several full outfits, both male and female, from undergarments to dresses and head wear.

Additionally, I just got some lovely silk I’ve been eyeing for months. I finally decided that if it’s still on my mind months after I first saw it, it’s meant to be. Also, the price was incredibly good, so I can justify the buy. It’ll do for Tudor, but also slightly earlier, so I’m not sure yet what it will be. It’s pretty though…


I’m not sure if/when I’ll actually get around to making Tudor things, but it’s always fun to plan and dream. The book covers various eras and styles, but for now I’m focusing on the ‘typical’ Tudor dress, ca. 1530-1560.

So some of my favourites.

I’ve found that many portraits showing Tudor fashion show a black and/or red coloring. So I figured I’d organize by color.



Mary Tudor, ca 1515

I adore the black (velvet? it looks like it) with pearls and gold look of this portrait. She also has interesting under-sleeves. It’s too bad the bottom is not shown, but there’s a 1850 adaptation of this portrait which gives a suggestion:

(c) Palace of Westminster; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I’m not sure how accurate the pearls on the hem are though. And I’m curious what’s hanging off her belt!



Anne de Pisseleu (1508–1576), Duchesse d’Étampes Attributed to Corneille de Lyon (Netherlandish, active by 1533, died 1575)

Another black/white/gold dress, although it looks like she has white undersleaves and a white kirtle on (showing the skirt between the open front). This time it looks like embroidery which gives the white details. I’m also intrigued by her necklaces, and the way they fall so wide. And she has the initial-necklace! I’ve only seen this on Anne Boyelin before (with a B), but I don’t know that much on the period, so I think it might’ve been a trend!



The Jersey Portrait, previously identified as Lady Jane Grey, is now identified as Katherine Parr

Another black dress with different color sleeves and kirtle. The quality of the image is not great, but the silver/red combination of her sleeves & kirtle is interesting. Her outer sleeves seem to be made of fur, not sure I like the look that much. But, she does have pearls!



Princess Elizabeth, c. 1543-1547. ‘The Family of Henry VIII’, detail. Anon. Hampton Court Palace. © The Royal Collection.

Moving in the direction of less black and more red. I think this combination of fabrics is my favorite. The brocade of her dress is gorgeous, and the sleeves and kirtle have a color which complements it perfectly. If only I could find fabric like this…



Catherine Howard, cousin of Anne Boleyn and fifth wife of Henry VIII

A similar color combination, but with red as main color. The sleeves & kirtle look wonderfully intricate, and her partlet seems to be embroidered with gold. It’s also interesting that her outersleeves are a different color and fabric.



Catherine Parr, sixth (and last) wife of Henry VIII

We’re moving into the realm of different colors now! Although I believe that red/gold was quite a popular combination. In any case, the brocades are gorgeous. Still not a fan of fur sleeves though.



Katherine Parr, Sixth Wife of King Henry VIII

This portrait is intriguing because the fabrics are so different from anything else I’ve seen. The colors, with the salmon and green and pink, and also the fact that the base color seems to be white(ish). I don’t particularly like the fabric, or the combination with the orange/green of the sleeves & kirtle, but it’s interesting! (also, note how in all of her portraits shown here, Katherine Parr has her hands in exacly the same way… Makes me wonder if the painter was the same, or if they were just copying eachother, or if it has some meaning)



Mary Tudor, Queen of France, Sister of Henry VIII

To finish, one of the only portraits I’ve found where the dress is not black/gray/red/orange/golden toned. I haven’t really been able to find other purple/blue/green examples. This is probably also because the bright versions of these colors were hard to create in Tudor times. (I know the green dress Natalie Portman wore in ‘The Other Boyelin Girl’ is gorgeous, but no way they’d been able to achieve that color in the 16th century!) Nonetheless, this portrait is a lovely example. I particularly like the fabric of her sleeves, and the way her left (for the viewer) sleeve seems to be almost falling off showing her kirtle beneath.