Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Looks of Love

Poor Henry VIII.  Always in and out of marriages.  Never sure what side of the bed his new bride will wake up on.  Always afraid he'll call out the wrong name - which is probably why he marries three Catherines and two Annes, don't ya think?!  Such confusion!  And pity his poor subjects, obliged to dress in the fashion of each new queen.  Since he weds internationally, they're never sure what the current lady will show up wearing.

So exactly how did the wives of Henry VIII dress?  Take a look...

1509: Catherine of Aragon

Catherine arrives at the palace with only two dresses to wear.  When Henry sends her out on a shopping spree, she repays the favor by introducting a long, stiff, fur-lined cape, the Spanish cloak, and the waist-squelching farthingale.  

 Spanish cape


 Thanks, Catherine.

1533: Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn first loses her head in the bedroom - she's wild about nightgowns and introduces lingerie to Henry's court.  Among her favorites: a hot black satin number trimmed in black velvet and an orange silk brocade.  

As depicted in The Tudors on Showtime

The second time Anne loses her head, it's for keeps.  For her date with the executioner, she dons a gray brocade with huge sleeves in gray squirrel and an undertunic of rose satin.

 From the feature film,The Other Boleyn Girl

1536: Jane Seymour

Jane gives Henry an heir to the throne, but she dies in childbirth - having had little time to make a real impact on fashions at court.

 As seen in The Tudors on Showtime

1540: Anne of Cleves

Anne directly influences her husband's style of dress.  He adopts the overpadded styles and huge puffed sleeves popular in Germany. 

This  marriage comes at a good time fashionwise, if not politically, as Henry is grossly overweight and this style minimizes his royal paunch.

1540: Catherine Howard

A pretty young thing, Catherine is treated like a treasure.  Henry gives her elaborate gold brooches studded with rubies, and diamond-encrusted gold collars. 

Catherine brings French fashions to the English court and sports a peaked, velvet headdress trimmed with brocade that makes her look like the Queen of Hearts.  

This is appropriate, since Henry dubs himself the King of Hearts.

1543: Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr is frugal: The only material she buys in all of 1544 is some velvet for a hood.  Since her predecessor's clothing fits her, she is content to wear hand-me-downs.  

She is more generous with the royal children, whom she dresses in handsome outfits of crimson velvet.  And she does give into to her one true passion - shoes. In one year alone, she purchases 47 pairs. 

Ahhh, a girl after my own heart!


  1. Just wanted to comment on Catherine Parr. She was hardly frugal. She splurged on clothing and jewels. She didn't wear any of her predecessors clothing. As the widow of Lord Latimer, she had her own wardrobe before she came to court. She wouldn't need to recycle old gowns. And the crimson was used for all of Catherine's possessions. She even had a dog collar made of crimson.