15th Century and The Early Tudor Period

4.6 15TH CENTURY AND THE EARLY TUDOR PERIOD

The 15th century saw a great struggle by a succession of short-lived kings to establish themselves on the throne. This culminated in the Wars of the Roses, finally won by Henry Tudor, who was crowned Henry VII in 1485. He established the Tudor dynasty which lasted until the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.

The Tudor period was one of comparative stability in government, in which increasing prosperity was reflected in renewed interest in fashion. The Tudor monarchs displayed a fondness of extravagance in dress fuelled by the arrival of exotic materials from the New World.

Early 15th century headdresses Women

The fashion for headdresses that had started in the 14th century became more elaborate in the early 15th century. Hair was hidden as it was considered improper for married and mature women to reveal it. Only young girls were allowed to do so. Women were expected to cover their hair with a drape, headdress or bonnet. Headdresses became extensions of the costume, creating an overall style or image.

Early 15th century headdresses still adhered to the vertical line of design, with such creations as the 'horned' headdress, which consisted of a wire structure in the shape of cow horns with a veil draped between them, or the 'chimney-pot' headdress, which is self-explanatory in description. This was usually worn with a `barbette' (Fig. 4.21). A popular headdress of the period was the `hennin' or 'steeple' headdress, which was a sort of truncated cone and had a veil attached that gently fell down onto the forehead and draped around the head (Fig. 4.22).

One of the most elaborate headdresses must have been the 'butterfly', a heavily embroidered flower-pot shaped hat with two wires attached


84 Hairdressing design

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Fig. 4.21 'Chimney-pot' headdress worn with a `barbette'.

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Fig. 4.22 Variations of the `hennin' or 'steeple' headdress.

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Fig. 4.23 Late 14th century and early 15th century hair fashions showing the plucked hairline and male 'bowl' crop.


History of fashion and hair styling 85

supporting a stiff gauzy veil that simulated butterfly wings. The veil was attached to the front of the hat or to the hair.

Men

The most important style for men which appeared about 1410 and stayed popular for about fifty years was the bowl crop, which suggests that the barber put a bowl on to the head and cut around it. In fact that is just what it looked like (Fig. 4.23). The back hairline was shaved to the level of the ears and the rest of the hair radiated from a centre point with the ends curled under, like a crude pageboy style. Men were usually clean shaven.

Tudor dress

During the 15th century dress hardly changed from the kirtle and gown until the Tudor period, when an interest in dress and style took on a serious vein, and suddenly money could be spent on clothes by those who could afford them. This was the period of voyages and discoveries, which meant that new, more luxurious materials became available. Costly fabrics, fur and heavy jewellery, and the thick embroidered fabrics helped give the costumes that required stiffness. For the first time in the history of fashion functional purposes of dress gave way to decorative effect. The fashionable costumes that were created completely ignored the shape of the body underneath. Artificial shapes required uncomfortable distortion to fit the shoulders, waists, stomachs and hips, and a number of devices such as corseting, padding, wiring, bejewelling and moulding were employed.

Early Tudor styles still had a strong French influence (first established in the Norman period) and one of the major changes was in the actual line of dresses and headdresses, which had up to this period been steadily getting more vertical in design. Suddenly the line began to be more horizontal. The low, square Tudor buildings that started to appear were reflected in the horizontal lines of the costumes. The line and shape of shoes also changed. For so long they had been very pointed, now suddenly they became square- toed and broad.

Men still wore the doublet and hose although the fabrics used were of much richer quality.

One of the major changes to dress in the late 15th century for both men and women was brought about by the German influence on style. In particular, slashing (which was the art of cutting slits in the material of the garments and pulling through the lining underneath) became universally popular with the fashion-conscious Tudors by 1500, along with the use of richly embroidered and brightly patterned materials. The most favourite materials used were velvet and satin. Also popular were fur trimmings on almost every garment. The most popular furs that were used were lynx, wolf and sable. The poorer people wore simpler, more practical clothes made of rough woollen cloth or coarse cotton. Children wore miniature versions of their parents' clothes.


88 Hairdressing design

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Fig. 4.26 The 'polled' hair style.

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Fig. 4.27 The Spanish influence on
Tudor fashions.

Men

The earlier 'bowl crop' style developed into more of a bob style by the 1520s and was called the 'polled' (Fig. 4.26) Henry VIII also set the fashion for beards again. Hair styles came under Spanish influence during the reign of Mary Tudor, who was married to Philip II of Spain. By 1550 the pointed Spanish moustache and beard were universally worn, along with shorter hair styles that were parted in the middle and flattened (see Fig. 4.27).

Hats and caps were worn by practically everyone, and there was a wonderful selection of styles. Undercaps or 'coifs' were worn indoors. Wigs of white or yellow silk attached to berets were occasionally worn tilted on the head.

Cosmetics and make-up

The look was still very natural and virginal. The high forehead was still quite fashionable but not so fierce as it had been in the early 16th century. Eyebrows were plucked and lips rouged.

Men started to blacken their eyebrows to make them more pronounced.