The Tudor period is typically the time between 1485 and 1603 in England. Also part of the Renaissance era, fashion tended to originate at court and was often influenced by the foreign policy of the time. A new fashion, however, could take from 5 to 15 years to travel from London to other areas of the country.

There were several iterations of fashion trends that produced a wide spectrum of Renaissance clothing. The beginning of the 16th century was marked by a strong German influence. This meant many bright colors and slashing as a form of decoration. The most common materials used were velvet, satin, and cloth of gold. Red was also a popular color although worn only by nobility.

With the marriage of Mary Tudor to King Philip of Spain in 1554, fashion suddenly changed. The colorful and flamboyant clothes of earlier years gave way to Spanish fashions. This style of dress was more tightly fitted and often black.

The Spanish influence on Renaissance clothing continued throughout the century. The ruff, the farthingale, bombasting (padding), and tiny waist lines gave a stiff, rigid and proud appearance to wearers, in contrast to the more flowing lines that had gone before.

While many beautiful items of clothing were worn by the rich, the dress of the poor changed very little. Working people needed to be practical as well as thrifty. Simple garments of coarse linen or English wool would, therefore, have been most usual for them.

The middle class wore Renaissance clothing that would denote their profession. For example, a scholar would usually be seen in a flat cap and gown. Although merchants could afford the rich fabrics of the nobility, they did not have the same social standing to wear them. So, they sometimes tried to marry their children into aristocracy to obtain better social status.

Given this background, you’ll be able to combine high fashion, elegance and a stunning design for your next Renaissance festival, theater or costume party. Just use what was popular in Renaissance culture and develop a costume that adds your own unique flair.