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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Tudor Clothes

In Tudor times, people had to dress according to their rank. Only the very rich could wear purple, gold or silver cloth, silk or satin. These laws were called the Sumptuary Laws.

Everyone, rich or poor, would want to look as nice as they could. Of course, poor people wouldn't have had the money to buy expensive things like jewellery.

Men's Clothes

Man in Tudor soldier's costume - photograph courtesy of the Hungerford Household
Tudor family group - photograph courtesy of the Hungerford Household
Photographs (left) courtesy of the Hungerford Household.

  • Hats - Set at an angle and had feathers.
  • Ruff - Worn around the neck.
  • Jacket - Called a doublet. High collars and padded shoulders were fashionable.
  • Breeches - These were stuffed with horsehair to give them their shape. Some styles reached to the knees.
  • Hose - These were a little like leggings and covered the rest of the leg.
  • Cloaks - If you were cold, or going outside, you might wear a cloak. The fashion was for short cloaks.
  • Sword - Tudor England was a dangerous place and most men would carry a sword or dagger.

Women's Clothes

Tudor Re-enactors - photograph courtesy of the Hungerford Household
Tudor Re-enactors - photograph courtesy of the Hungerford Household

Photographs (above) courtesy of the Hungerford Household.

  • Head wear - Women always wore something on their head. Poorer women would wear a cap like the one in the photograph (above, left), or it might be a headdress like the ones shown inthe picture (above, right).
  • Chemise - A long sleeved top worn under the kirtle and/or gown.
  • Kirtle - A dress with lacings on the front of the bodice. Rich or poor, this was the basic dress, for women in Tudor times.
  • Skirt - Skirts were held up by a farthingale (a circular frame made of wood) and a bumroll was used for added shape.
  • Corset - A corset was worn on the upper body to make the woman look shapely.
  • Gown - Rich women wore a gown over the top of their clothes, which would also be made of more expensive materials.
  • Ruff - During the time of Queen Elizabeth, it was also fashionable to wear a ruff around the neck.

Tudor Re-enactors - photograph courtesy of the Hungerford Household
This photograph (courtesy of the Hungerford Household) shows the difference between rich and poor clothes.

Clothing Your Character

Think about the job your character does, how rich they are, and how this would make a difference to the clothes they wear. Which items from the information above do you think they'd dress in?


Your character should now be almost finished. The only thing left to think about is your Tudor Family.