Book Reviews, Misc, Netgalley

Book Review: Tudor Fashion: Dress at Court by Eleri Lynn

***This book was reviewed for Yale University Press via Netgalley

Despite my love for history, this is a time period I am not overly familiar with. In Tudor Fashion, Lynn takes the reader on a voyage back through time. Using archaeological and historical sources, we see how the fashions of the Tudors were less fanciful affectations, and were instead bold statements of rank and hierarchy, like the plumage of birds of paradise or peacocks. At a glance, one could know the proper place of any given person. And what of those who created the clothing, tended the wardrobes, repaired the elegant finery?

Chapter One takes a peek beneath the various layers, giving a better idea of just how all that finery went together! You also see how the styles changed over the Tudor period.

Chapter Two focused specifically on royal apparel and how it was used to denote the rank of the highest in the land. Courtiers could compete among themselves, but none could dare have plumage as fine as the monarchs.

Chapter Three looks at the rest of the court, from said courtiers all the way down to the servants. Also covered are the Sumptuary Laws, and the consequences of getting caught wearing the wrong thing.

Chapter Four answers a lot of questions I’ve always had about, well… how the bathrooming and hygiene worked with such fancy clothes, and how the clothes themselves were cared for.

Chapter Five details how clothes were selected for travel from residence to residence, and how new clothing choices were commissioned and created.

Chapter Six looks at what, exactly, happened to all that finery. Namely, it was gifted and reused, and repurposed over the ages, til there was nothing left of most originals.

For as fine as all this clothing and accessories were, I cannot imagine having to wear it! Most seems so unnecessary, but then, I’m a fairly simple person when it comes to clothing. And I like both myself, and my clothing, to be clean.

There really is little actual archaeological evidence left of Tudor clothing, so it was neat to see experimental aspects. This branch of archaeology fascinates me because it shows just how much knowledge we’ve lost over the centuries, but also our ingenuity in relearning our past.

One thing I found especially interesting was the level of alchemic symbolism associated with this finery. The stylised eyes and ears, and the serpent of the clothing of Elizabeth I, as depicted in the ‘Rainbow’ painting.  

The focus of this book was royal, and royal-adjacent. It unfortunately didn’t cover military garb, ceremonial clothing, or dress associated with the church, which would be equally fascinating, but no doubt just as extensive in scope

????? Resplendent with colourful illustrations, and filled with fascinating stories, Tudor Fashion is a must for any history buff.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Tudor Fashion: Dress at Court by Eleri Lynn

  1. Oh wow this sounds extremely awesome! I actually am really fascinated by historical clothing so like I’m really interested in this book already! I loved the review. 🙂

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