Monday, 18 November 2013

Tudor tales

Monday 18th November

When a talk starts with a striptease in a church you know that things are going to get weird! 

We welcomed Anne Boleyn or rather Lyn Cunliffe from Hathaways of Haworth, to our meeting this month.  Lyn came dressed in full Tudor garb, all made by her own fair hands.  However it was the mannequin that was stripped as she explained the complex layers of clothes and especially sleeves, that were required to dress a Tudor lady.  Whilst we might not appreciate the multiple layers of garments, we were all envious of the fur-lined bodice as we sat and shivered in our coats in the barely-warm church.

There may have been a bit of Yorkshire about the Tudor tailors because the most expensive cloths were used frugally.  This meant that only the bits on show were faced with luxurious material whilst the rest was fairly plain.  It also lead to the use of false sleeves that gave the impression of many layers when in fact they reached from elbow to wrist.  One of the "half sleeves" in brocade cloth would have cost a whole year's wages for a servant so fabric was highly prized.  We learned that Elizabeth I owned over 2000 dresses when she died, but she was not adverse to the modern concept of mending and making do and clothes were frequently refashioned and recycled.  

Lyn carefully researches her costumes using paintings and contemporary accounts of clothing but it is also by physically making an item that she gains insight into how it would be constructed and worn.  The talk was highly entertaining and a fascinating way to learn about costume.

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