The Tudors Costumes

Posted By on March 31, 2011

The Tudors Season 4 promo photo In an article entitled “Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill” in the fashion section of today’s Telegraph newspaper, Joan Bergin, costumer designer for “The Tudors” TV series, discusses how she “looked to Holbein, Degas and the Rolling Stones to create more than 2,000 lavish outfits for the hit series”, as well as studying the reports of the Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, and other contemporary sources.

The article is an interesting read as Ms Bergin explains her inspirations, the hand detailing on the costumes and other such insights.

The show’s costumes have been criticised by re-enactors, historians and Tudor costuming experts, but there’s no denying that the costumes were beautiful and exuded sex-appeal and opulence.

16 thoughts on “The Tudors Costumes”

  1. La Belle Creole says:

    I admit I like many of the costumes from “The Tudors” although I recognize a lack of period accuracy in some of the styles and decorations. I prefer to think of the costumes as “Tudor inspired” or “historical fantasy” and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    1. Claire says:

      I had to laugh when I was watching a Season 1 episode the other day and Princess Margaret was wearing a dress that buttoned up the front but there was a gap between the two parts right up the middle so lots of boobs and cleavage on show! Obviously she forgot to wear her shift under it!!

      1. La Belle Creole says:

        For some reason, I seem to recall a costume in Season 1 featuring a corset type bodice that looked like it zipped up in back and I was appalled.

        With that said … I sort of like the originality and slightly modern take in “artistic liberty” the costumieres took. Tudor period apparel isn’t my favorite (no offense to folks who love it, but I like Regency costume and Edwardian costume best.) I felt some of the costume liberties made the clothes much more appealing and romantic.

        Claire, I can’t tell you how many historical novels (romance and/or erotic romance) that get costumes wrong, ESPECIALLY undergarments. It’s sort of weird in a way.

  2. Daniela says:

    I think the costumes were brilliant n gorgeous! This was a big part of the show like a separate character. No matter if 100% accurate or not – I dunno how much contemporary info on the real deal clothes still exists anyway- I think Joan did a good job!

  3. Bella says:

    I have to admit the costumes kind of annoyed me; I simply adore Tudor clothing so it was disappointing to see they took a lot of liberties with them. And I also think costume designers for period films/tv shows have a responsibility to get the clothing of the era as correct as possible too otherwise why bother in setting the production in that particular time and place? How are we as the audience supposed to get an idea of what the period was really like? Perhaps though, it was the women’s hairstyles that bothered me more!
    Having said that, some of the gowns were stunning and Anne’s Pembroke gown has to be one of my all time favourites – I’m trying to save up for one at the moment!!!!!!!!!

    1. Anyanka says:

      In my case, it’s not the money…it’s the justification for buying one .

  4. Rian says:

    I love the costumes on The Tudors. I know they took great liberties and that they were mostly just Tudor inspired and whatnot, but I think I read somewhere that these different costumes were deliberate to bring in a wider range of people watching the show. The haristyles back then for males was not flattering and the men wore codpieces. They just wanted everything to appear more attractive, hip if you will, to a younger crowd or to people not familiar with the Tudor histories. The costumes are gorgeous! 🙂

  5. Kathie P. says:

    To tell the truth, the costumes were the least concerning to me of the historical inaccuracies in the first season.

  6. Sheena says:

    I loved the costumes on the show in spite of their inaccuracies. Many historical dramas, whether television or movies are never truly 100% accurate- either the styles were from a later time period, or the colors were not available to them at the time. The team behind the Tudors were not out to make a historical documentary, but a historical drama series- and I think that they did a good job. It was like they took the best of Tudor and Elizabethan fashions and mashed it up with some of the romance we envision from that period of time.

    I have to agree with La Belle Creole with her choice of liking Edwardian costume best- I loved the movie “Titanic” for their costumes! My wedding dress was Edwardian inspired from opera dresses. =)

  7. Beth says:

    As a member of the “younger crowd” I feel obliged to protest! I do not like it when historical dramas or documentaries change things like that just because they think they’re going to be “hip” and “cool” and appeal to me because of it! And they’re not succeeding because as a younger person I merely find it funny how hard they are trying to market at me and I would much rather that accuracy was kept. That said, nothing against the costumes themselves, they were well-made and obviously gorgeous, but in some places completely wrong for the period and as someone else said you do kind of ask yourself “well, shouldn’t the point of setting it then be to get things like that right, otherwise you might as well make it a fictional modern tale”. As a young person, I must add my voice to this and say I would have preferred the period correct costumes… but overall what was important to me was the detail they crammed into the plot and the performances of the characters which moved me, so it’s just a small niggle really but I did just want to offer a “young person”‘s perspective and say that tv shows trying to make things “cool” for our sake doesn’t work, at least with me, and I too would prefer authenticity.

  8. Megan says:

    I loved the costumes, despite their inaccuracies. The top offender I can think of is the scene in Season 2 where Anne is badgering Henry about where he’s going, and that guy (his name escapes me now) was imagining stabbing her and her bleeding out on the floor of the court. She was wearing this brassy gold overcoat looking thing with a purple dress and the entire area covering her breasts was a see-through mesh.

    So, are you TRYING to get killed faster for being a whore and a witch??? Hehe.

  9. Stephanie says:

    What exactly does “real” Tudor clothing look like? I only associate Tudor clothing with the Tudors show and The Other Boleyn Girl! Now I know that there are inaccuracies…how different were the real clothes?

    1. Claire says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      There is a great explanation of Tudor clothes on our Tudor clothes page – see https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/resources/tudor-life/tudor-clothes/

  10. So true. As a costume technician I found the costume terribly inaccurate, but, historical inaccuracies irritating. Present the facts (as we know) people!

  11. I was actually just thinking about this the other day… I personally loved the costumes in “The Tudors” – I thought they were beautiful, and they really worked with what the show was trying to do. Honestly, I don’t think anyone can walk away from their television after watching an episode and truly think that life was as sexy as it was portrayed in that show. This show was trying to appeal to a wide range of viewers, because not everyone who sits down to watch TV is a history nerd like myself. Because of that, I think Mike Hirst and the directors of the show did a great job mixing historical fashion and customs with a modern twist, simply to gain the followers it got! Certainly some of those costumes made me wrinkle my nose – like the purple dress that someone mentioned in the above comments, as well as Anne’s Christmas gown with a huge slit between her breasts – but overall I think they served the purpose they were there for! I did love Anne’s execution dress – maybe that was one of the more authentic looking costumes on the show. One thing that did bother me a little was the lack of proper headpieces! I don’t believe I saw a single gable hood in the entire series, and I only saw a couple french hoods, which didn’t even look to be properly done. Of course, this was probably because these hoods were not exactly “sexy,” which was the look “The Tudors” was going for. If you’re looking for a LITTLE more historical accuracie in costumes, I actually think “The Other Boleyn Girl” is better. At least the women wore appropriate hoods, and their dresses were a bit more authentic-looking. Even Anne wore a gable hood to her execution – (I read somewhere that she most likely did that in history, so I’m glad they added that). Personally, I love Tudor costumes and I wish I had an excuse to buy one!!!

  12. Carol Thomas says:

    I absolutely love The Tudors. It’s probably the best costume drama telling of the story of Henry VIII ever produced. The music, the costumes, the settings, are all beautiful. I’m a visual type of person, I love eye candy. That being said, there were some inaccuracies in the costumes. Women never went around bareheaded, or with just the front part of the French hood or tiaras. It would have been considered immodest. They always wore veils in the back. Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour wore gable hoods, not weird hats. Of course the tight corsets they wore did leave little to the imagination as far as breasts were concerned. (talk about a contradiction!). At least they had lacings up the back of the dresses. Zippers were not invented until the 1930’s. They did however, manage to produce some pretty opulent fabrics back then. I wondered about this, then found a website with pictures of fabrics of the time in an Italian museum.
    Also, there were only beautiful people in this show. Nobody was average looking, not even the girl who played Anne of Cleves. She was actually pretty. If she’d looked like this in real life, Henry would probably been taken with her. Henry should have had red hair.

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