I just posted a fresh Renaissance English History Podcast on Fashion, Clothing, and Sumptuary Laws in Tudor and Elizabethan England. Below is the audio to listen, and the show notes are on the podcast website, englandcast.com.
Here are some fun things I learned this episode:
- Decorating a fur with jewelry, like sapphire claws or a ruby tongue, was a Thing. Henry VIII had two of them, sable, decorated with turquoise, with the aforementioned ruby tongues, and other fun things. You’d either drape it over your shoulder, or carry it around like a pet. Because carrying around bejeweled dead animals like they’re little pets is the height of fashion. Said no one ever.
- There was a semi-famous cross-dressing woman called Mary Firth in the 17th century who wore trousers, drank in public, smoked cigars, appeared on a stage, acted as both a fence and a pimp. She is an incredibly colorful cross-dresser.
- Everybody, not just Henry VIII, wore codpieces, which were just like zippers, only not.
- Sumptuary Laws were super detailed. And while they were mostly to make sure everyone dressed according to their status, they also helped the English economy by limiting imported fashions.
- Everyone, not just poor people, wore wool. Mostly as underwear or petticoats.