As many of you are aware, I’m fascinated by period clothing–from any period. In April, we will be attending a wedding at the Renaissance Festival near Dallas, TX so we (my daughter and I) have been really doing a lot of research on Tudor/Elizabethan clothing. Holy smokes! I have literally spent dozens of hours looking at costume sites, reading and planning my dress. Today I found some great books at second-hand bookstore.
What’s most intriguing to me is how simple the basic garments were, especially in the pre-Elizabeth years. Many of the things that make a Tudor costume look complex are just superficial add-ons: fabric tabs, fur, gems, lace and embroidery. The use of expensive silk and velvet made them extremely expensive to make as well.
The author points out that in Tudor England there was no true middle class, you were either noble or desperately poor. I think I disagree since there was an active merchant class which would compare to our middle class, but it was an era where the class differences were very extreme. This merchant class constantly sought to raise its social standing by mimicking the nobility and there are portraits of wealthy merchants and their families dressed almost as sumptuously as the nobles of the age.
I also found it interesting to learn that knitted stockings didn’t become popular until the reign of Elizabeth. Prior to that, stockings were made from fine wool cloth, cut on the bias to create the stretch needed for stockings. When Elizabeth was given a pair of knitted silk stockings, she made them popular in spite of their relatively high cost: 5 pounds a pair. There is a record of her brother Edward having been given a pair of silk hose, but he was never the fashion icon that his sister became and apparently the fad didn’t take hold until Elizabeth adopted it.
Annie in Wisconsin, USA
~~Doodlestein Designs Quilt Patterns
~~Finely Finished: Machine quilting worked on a treadle sewing machine.
See patterns, quilting, and National sewing machines at: http://community.webshots.com/user/damascusannie