A very quick post to explain the layers and terms used in Tudor clothing for anyone wanting a quick guide on how to wear a costume they may have bought or hired for an event.This is not an academic guide ,its designed to show how to put on the necessary layers and what can be used for those layers .
Apologies in advance for the bizarre spacing in the post I am not sure how but I messed up the margins mid post)
Layer one ,a chemise
This is a thin full length undergarment ,much like a modern nightdress.This layer protects you from getting chaffed skin from the corsets or gowns and helps absorb sweat .To be accurate it should be linen or possibly silk but usually the modern ones are made with the much cheaper cotton .It’s best to have one with full sleeves as they will show under the gown.
If you are only attending a single event and dont want to spend money on a purpose bought chemise you can wear a nightdress ,a wide necked short sleeved one or one with shoestring straps ,it needs to be calf length .
If you would like to make your own ,there are instructions on both very quick chea and easy ones and the one above in this post
Next is an optional layer a corset or stays
Very few Tudor ladies would have worn these unless they were at court but gowns do look better with them,Corsets are worn over your chemise as in the photo below ,this may seem odd but the chemise protects you from the corset and the corset from you as sweat can cause damage to fabric and boning.( The photo below shows a Lord of the rings shield maiden corset rather than a Tudor one but I dont have any underwear shots from my Tudor talks )
The next layer is also optiontional but makes the gown look better ,its a structural under petticoat which is a skirt that’s ,either a hoop if you want a late Tudor look or stiffened petticoat or a petticoat in a fabric such as taffeta .If you are wearing a hoop however you may need to buy a much longer gown to cover it.If your really not worried about authenticity and you have a gown made from fairly light fabric such as taffeta you can also wear tulle or bridal net petticoats which can be bought for £10 0r under on sites such as ebay ,this wont work with velvet or other heavy fabrics and wotn move the same way as a hooped skirt but is much easier to travel in .Its also possible to buy hooped petticoats on ebay etc for under £10 its best to buy a three hooped petticoat and move to hoops to make the skirts the A line shape below .Below is a plain cotton under petticoat though this has a frill at the bottom and Tudor ones would be plain.The corset shown is Victorian but the layers for both Victorian and Tudor costumes are identical ,Chemise,Corset structural layer .
You next put on a visible petticoat or the smart petticoat ,this is seen in open skirted gowns and glimpsed in closed skirted ones when you lift up your skirt to walk.
This one is waist length ,Sometimes the visible “petticoat ” may be another gown being worn under the outer one .
Sometimes this is the same fabric or has a panel of the same fabric as the dress as below
sometimes its a different colour to contrast
Also part of the outer layers are the gowns long over sleeves which I make as a separate items which I tack or pin on as not only are they then easier to remove if you become too hot but because I believe thats how the Tudors often wore them so they could wear different ones with different gowns .Some costumers would disagree and believe the sleeves were always part of the gown.
but they can also be fur
To go under the full long sleeves are undersleeves which pin on with brooches or safety pins and the cuff of the chemise sticks out of them .I usualy pin them onto my chemise unless they are very heavily jewelled or made from heavy fabrics when I pin them to the gown sleeves. These sleeves ,sometimes matched the visible petticoat panel
sometimes they matched the dress itself
sometimes they were very jeweled
It is possible on my Etsy site to buy faux chemise sleeves to go under these over sleeves in case you dont want to wear or buy a long-sleeved chemise but I have no proof Tudors did this.Some costumers sew panels of linen or silk into the under sleeves to create the impression of very wide sleeves ,I prefer to use inner sleeves as they are easier to wash. If you wear separate inner sleeves and pin one fur over sleeves its actually much easier to travel to events as you can put them on when you arrive and dont have to worry about catching them in things or put up with being too hot .
The other layers are optional ,one goes under the dress and is a modesty panel or fill in, partlet or under partlet in cotton.Its fairly easy to make one by cutting a rectangle of fabric then cutting a wide v shape out of it .
In the photo below you can see the partlet under the gown ,you can also see the plain back of the damask petticoat.Its occasionally possible to see much more elaborate partlets such as this gold one ,this seems to be tacked to the gown at the neckline but may have been tied under it
There is also a partlet that goes over clothes its more or less the same but fastens at the front
Sometimes is a different colour but sometimes it matches the dress
The other items are a headdress and or a coif the coif goes under a headdress but if you dont need to be authentic its not essential
also you can wear a French hood
Theres are several styles this is a later more complicated one
Or a gable hood in different styles
Or an Intermediate hood,this photo below also shows a black over partlet
Sometimes these were fur to keep you warm
The only other items were jewels and sometimes a cloak or mantle but these were not often worn
In Elizabethan times some people wore a top and skirt separately
They also wores ruffs
Big and small
it was sometimes fashionable to carry Prayer books or bibles either in your hand or at your waist on a girdle
and also fashionable were little faux animals or furs with their heads
To buy or order a Tudor gown you can contact my Etsy shop,however I am also planning some blog posts on how to make your own costumes easily and cheaply .
For handcrafted and unique designs my Etsy shop is here