Have a watch of the above video and gain an understanding of what fashion was like for people in Tudor England.
Rather like today, the wealthy people of the period would wear clothes made from luxurious materials such as silk, and bright colours. The middle-classes would wear clothes of a similar style but usually made from cheaper materials, such as wool and linen. Poorer people would wear simple clothes made from wool - tunic and trousers for men, and a long dress (worn with an apron on top) for women.
Well-to-do Tudor women wore hooped skirts with padded hips, which reached to the floor. Men wore padded breeches with stockings - not trousers. Fur was a popular trim among the wealthy.
One of the most recognized items of clothing from the late Tudor period is the ruff - a collar of lace worn around the neck. Some wealthy people wore enormous ruffs to show off their wealth.
Tudor Sumptuary Laws
The Tudor Sumptuary Laws and regulations called Statutes of Apparel were passed to restrain or limit the expenditure of people in relation to their clothes, food, furniture. The Sumptuary Laws forbade the use of certain articles of luxurious apparel. Tudor Sumptuary Laws dictated what color and type of clothing individuals were allowed to own and wear, an easy and immediate way to identify rank and privilege. Examples of the Tudor Sumptuary Laws ensured that only Tudor Royalty were permitted to wear clothes trimmed with ermine. Lesser Nobles were only allowed to wear clothing trimmed with fox and otter and so on and so forth!
But why control the people in this way?
The reason for Tudor Sumptuary Laws were to maintain control over the population. During the reign of King Henry VIII a new and wealthy Merchant Class arose. These wealthy men were looking above their station and could afford to buy the luxurious goods previously only possible for the rich Tudors. This new wealthy class of commoners needed to be kept separate from the Upper Classes of the rich Tudor Nobility. King Henry VIII therefore drafted a new series of laws concerning dress and personal adornment - he updated the existing English "Sumptuary Laws". His daughters Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) and Queen Elizabeth I followed suit.
A little bit of a laugh at the Sumptuary Laws
What did each class of society wear then?
Poor people wore simple, loose-fitting clothes made from woolen cloth. Most men wore trousers made from wool and a tunic which came down to just above their knee. Women wore a dress of wool that went down to the ground. They often wore an apron over this and a cloth bonnet on their heads.
Rich ladies wore padded skirts held up with loops. Over these went bodices and colourful floor-length gowns.
Rich men wore white silk shirts, frilled at the neck and wrists. Over this they wore a doublet (a bit like a tight-fitting jacket), and close-fitting striped trousers (called hose).
Got to have something on the head as well!
Most people, when thinking about Tudor headwear, will bring to mind, images of two headdresses that were worn during King Henry VIII’s reign. These are the French hood and the English or, as is more commonly termed now, the Gable Hood.