Service of Fashion We Take from 16th Century England

October 10th, 2022

Categories: Fashion, Museums

Flats much like ballet slippers. No smile even though she’s in a comfy housecoat

It’s remarkable how much we imitate the fashion of Tudor England, at least that was my impression after visiting the new exhibition “The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Who knew?

Fancy sneakers Tudor-style

I’ll start with the obvious, the expressions of those portrayed: There’s not a single smile on the walls. My friend Nancie Steinberg postulates that’s because they all had bad teeth. The impetus is different now, but most runway models and those featured in fashion spreads look like they are attending a beloved relative’s funeral after a long night of drinking. The cutting-edge fashions are not making any of them happy.

Next, I noticed the shoes. Peeking out from some of the women’s gowns is footwear reminiscent of sneakers. Nancie, who has attended a few recent weddings, told me that many brides wear sneakers under their gowns at some point. In any case, dressy flats are acceptable formal wear these days. I asked Google when women first wore high heels and learned the 16th century, (but I didn’t see any heels on females in the portraits).

Fashionable women today are also wearing ankle-length dresses for daywear. And speaking of dresses—men on the streets of Manhattan are sporting them along with tunics and exotic accessories much like some in the Tudor-period portraits.

I am a lover of tights. I saw some magnificent ones on men.

You can’t miss the alarmingly tiny waists on women. While we aren’t seeing this look [thank goodness], our skinny models could slip into any of the gowns with room to spare.

The exhibit will be at The Met until January 8, 2023.

We think we’re so innovative in the 21st century, yet here’s another instance of “plus ça change plus c’est la même chose.” Can you think of other examples? What fashions remind you of times long gone by?

Love those tights!

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4 Responses to “Service of Fashion We Take from 16th Century England”

  1. TC Said:

    JEANNE, MY TAKE ON 16-18 CENTURY STYLES ( AND PAINTINGS ) IS THAT ONE’S FIGURE WAS IRRELEVANT. IT WAS THE OVER THE TOP COPIOUS COLORFUL ATTIRE. HENRY VIII VIRTUALLY CELEBRATES HIS OBESITY IN HIS CLASSIC PAINTING.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    I think in addition to jewels and luxurious fabrics being fat was also a sign of wealth at a time so many went hungry. [That doesn’t explain the women depicted with 16-inch waists.]

    It’s almost the opposite today. Some women starve themselves to look emaciated and don’t realize that at a certain age skinny relates not to elegance as much as it does to frailty.

  3. lucrezia Said:

    If one lives long enough, defunct styles will be reborn. My favorite throwback is Troy Polamalu, former Steeler safety, whose hair style strongly resembled that of Louis XIV! I haven’t the faintest idea whether this is/was intentional, but it was great fun to look at.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I see what you mean but I had to look up Troy in Google Images.

    Hair styles! Of course.I didn’t think of them.

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