The Typical Tudor

Reconstructing Everyday 16th Century Dress

A poll of readers confirmed this as the cover for the book by an overwhelming majority!

The Typical Tudor features:

  • 216 pages with colour illustrations throughout
  • Detailed line drawings and diagrams by Michael Perry
  • Sumptuous full-colour photographs of reconstructed garments
  • Sewing patterns and knitting instructions for more than 50 garments and headwear


This new book presents a fascinating introduction to the range of garments worn by ordinary men and women 500 years ago. It draws on a wide variety of primary sources for sound evidence of clothing for the mean and middling sort from 1485 to 1603. 

The Typical Tudor builds on the authors’ previous works The Tudor Tailor (2006) and The Tudor Child (2013) by surveying the available sources with statistical rigour. Most noteworthy of these is the database of more than 57,000 garments and accessories drawn from transcribed wills, accounts, inventories and court records. The book overcomes many of the challenges of research into lower and middle-class dress by diligently cross-referencing multiple categories of evidence to provide a new and comprehensive survey of historical dress for the period.

Sources for people’s appearance 500 years ago offer meagre clues compared to the wealth of material recording the elite. The Tudor Tailor’s investigations uncover what is available to help paint a picture of their clothes. Key questions in this hunt for clues are: How representative is what remains? Is any of it typical of the lower and middling sort who lived in the Early Modern era? And how does it help reconstruct their looks and lives? The contradictions and confusions presented by these sources must be approached with caution. How can this patchy evidence provide a picture of what was usual in the Tudor era? What was the range of options for everyday and best dress?

All averages are based on a broad sweep of data which includes outliers as well as those firmly in the mainstream. Some extant evidence is extraordinary and therefore atypical but still relevant. The vast majority of what once existed in the wardrobes of ordinary people is long gone and only indirect indications remain. Can all these fragments fit together? Even the most robust interrogation of the best evidence provides only a shadowy glimpse of who these people were and what they wore.

The Typical Tudor aims to bring together pictorial, archaeological and documentary material and cross-reference them to provide reconstructions of dress worn by ordinary people in the sixteenth century. The book suggests date ranges for specific styles, variations on basic shapes, and the options for colours and textiles used for specific garments and accessories reflecting conventional wear.

Take a look behind the scenes at the recent photoshoots for some sneak peeks at the garments to be featured in the The Typical Tudor.

Download the current corrections in the Errata document here
Download an updated version of the Men's gowns endnotes  here