Upper Class: How Did Kings & Queens Dress?

Now that we have seen how the lower classes and middle classes dressed, what about those at the very top of Tudor England's social ladder? The finest cloths, jewels, and accessories would have been reserved for the Kings and Queens of England, and they took advantage of that fact to dress as finely as possible!

Henry VIII, the second King of England during the Tudor period, was one who seemed to have spent a lot of time thinking about what he was going to wear, and perhaps just as much time getting dressed! At the time, a given outfit of his could consist of “a gown of thickly pleated cloth of silver ribbed with gold, and a doublet of rose velvet. His cap was black velvet encircled with rubies, emeralds and pearls with a white plume.” On other days he might wear dark furs and purple silks, reserved for royal use only.

The final monarch of the Tudor period, Queen Elizabeth I, was also one who liked to dress well and was something of a fashion icon in her time. Queen Elizabeth used her idiosyncratic clothes and patterns to assert her authority over those she ruled, something that she constantly had to do as a woman in a man’s world. A French ambassador to her court described one of her outfits as a white and silver dress with slashed sleeves that revealed red cloth underneath. “The collar of the robe was very high, and the lining of the inner part all adorned with little pendants of rubies and pearls, very many, but quite small. She had also a chain of rubies and pearls about her neck. On her head she wore a garland of the same material and beneath it a great reddish-coloured wig, with a great number of spangles of gold and silver, and hanging down over her forehead some pearls.” She had clothes of every sort, for every occasion, and her ability to have the perfect clothes for every occasion was linked to that of a chameleon.

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