Women’s Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII

Posted By on July 9, 2010

Bess Chilver, a costumer and Tudor dress expert, spoke to us about Tudor clothes on our recent Anne Boleyn Experience Tour and now she has written an excellent article on women’s dress at the court of King Henry VIII. Here is an extract of it and you can read the full article at our “Tudor Clothes” page.

Women’s Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII

It is without doubt, that the clothing for noble men and women in the reign of King Henry VIII were exquisite. Portraits show a woman’s silhouette is conical in shape whereas the men’s silhouette is wide and square. For both men and women, fabrics are rich and luxurious using sumptuous silks and satins, the finest linens and velvets with abandon.

Sir Henry Guildford. c. 1527. Artist – Hans Holbein.

Queen Katherine Parr c. 1545. Artist – Master John.

The fabrics and decorations used are only part of the story. Each garment worn adds to the complete ensemble. To modern eyes, the number of layers worn seem excessive, yet each layer is necessary to the whole.

Tudor Garments

So what are the garments and layers that are worn by women in the Tudor Period? The minimum number of layers actually worn would be four: Smock; Petticoat; Kirtle and Gown. Depending on where within Henry VIII’s reign one was, other layers such as the farthingale, forepart and partlet would also be worn. Headwear would be the finishing touch.

Read more at https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/resources/tudor-life/tudor-clothes/

6 thoughts on “Women’s Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII”

  1. Cat says:

    I think I’d faint if I had to wear all of those clothes in the summer. Still – they are beautiful and I would LOVE to have seen what some of Anne’s dresses looked like in real life!

  2. Kristien says:

    The dresses in the Tudor times were beautiful, if not bountiful 🙂 So many layers. . I wonder how long it took them to dress each day? I do love seeing these paintings. . Especially the one’s which you can see the details of the dresses. BEAUTIFUL! Great website Claire 🙂

  3. AnneBullen says:

    Kristien it would usually take 3-4 hours just to get dressed, and that’s not including doing their hair…I would be so impatiant that I would just put whatever was easiest and keep my hair down. And in the summer, I don’t think I would ever want to wear all those layers…I think I would die..or at least pass out,….

  4. As a young woman at Kent Castle would Anne have worn an elabortate kirtle in her everyday dress ?

  5. Claire says:

    I am not an expert in Tudor dress at all but I doubt that Anne would have worn anything elaborate as everyday wear.

  6. First would like to say Merry ChristmasGreat job, I will be coming your website soon.

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