Oversized ruffs, elaborate lace embroidery, pearl chokers and long-fingered gloves: Royal exhibition proves Tudor and Stuart fashions were as outlandish as our own
- In Fine Style: The Art Of Tudor And Stuart Fashion, at Buckingham Palace
- Rare examples of Tudor and Stuart garments alongside portrait paintings
- Monarch dictated who could wear certain colours and fabrics
- Only reigning monarch was allowed to wear purple
Published: 08:52 BST, 15 April 2013 | Updated: 15:59 BST, 5 May 2013
From Anne Boleyn's iconic pearl choker to her daughter Elizabeth I's enormous lace ruffs, fashion in the Tudor and Stuart periods was just as creative, outrageous and fascinating as it is today.
Most glamorous of all were the denizens of the Royal court, whose sumptuous garments are the subject of a new exhibition at Buckingham Palace.
In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion includes some of the most famous artworks from the Royal Collection, as well as some examples rare surviving garments from the period.
Fashion fit for a king: This portrait of Henry VIII, painted during his marriage to Anne Boleyn, has been attributed to Joos van Cleve
Lovely in lace: Anne of Denmark, left, the wife of James I, and Mary of Modena, right, second wife of James II
Beginning with the early 16th century, the exhibition traces the changing tastes of the royal courts and the spread of fashion through Europe.
Although fashion wasn't wholly confined to the upper echelons of society, it was increasingly important for the aristocracy whose duties included reflecting the glory of the monarchy through splendid attire.
As a result, competition for the best designs was fierce, and led to an insatiable search for novel and outlandish creations.
Tragic wife: Queen Henrietta-Maria of France was the consort of Charles I, who was executed in 1649
But courtiers didn't get their own way on every sartorial matter. Both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I enforced laws dictating the fabrics, colours and types of garments that could be worn at each level of society.
Purple velvet, the most expensive of all fabrics, was reserved for the monarch alone
The most luxurious - including gold cloth, textiles dyed crimson red and certain types of fur such as ermine - were reserved exclusively for use by the monarch and his or her highest-ranking courtiers.
Purple velvet, the most expensive of all fabrics, was reserved for the monarch alone.
Whatever the fabric, Tudor clothes were all made by hand, and as a result far more expensive than their modern equivalents.
Monarch: The second Stuart to reign, King Charles I, and the last of the Tudor dynasty, Elizabeth I
Handmade lace, clothes that utilised real silver and gold, and linen that took several months to produce were all regularly used.
Perhaps the luxury of Tudor and Stuart clothes isn't so surprising when you consider that the taste-makers of the day were the King and Queen themselves.
In 1666, Charles II invented the precursor of the three piece suit, which included a long vest worn under a coat instead of the traditional doublet and coat
Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, is credited with popularising both Spanish blackwork embroidery and the farthingale, a hooped underskirt.
His second, the glamorous Anne Boleyn, made daring French hoods, long, pointed sleeves and neat chokers fashionable, while her successor Jane Seymour championed the heavy - and modest - gable hood.
Boleyn's daughter Elizabeth supported the trend for long-fingered gloves, which elongated the wearer's hands and showed they did not do manual labour.
Men also left their mark. In 1666, Charles II invented the precursor of the three piece suit, which included a long vest worn under a coat instead of the traditional doublet and coat.
The fashion spread quickly, and diarist Samuel Pepys was among the dandies to adopt it.
Rare pieces: Few jewels and even fewer garments dating from the Tudor and Stuart period survive
Although few of the period garments themselves have survived, paintings in which they take pride of place have done.
Among those on show are several of Elizabeth I, including a Nicholas Hilliard miniature and the famous William Scrots portrait of the future queen as a teenager.
Other highlights include Marcus GheeradtsThe Younger's portrait of Anne of Denmark, wife to King James I, and a Sir Anthony van Dyck triptych of the doomed King Charles I.
In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion runs from the 10 May until 6 October at the Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace. For tickets and visitor information, see royalcollection.org.uk