These books are primarily based on analysis of extant items, visual references, and documentary evidence like inventories and purchase accounts. For resources based on actual period pattern drawings, check my Late Period Tailor’s Books post.

For many years, Janet Arnold was the best resource for late period garments. She did extensive research into extant garments and developed patterns. She references Alcega‘s designs, for those items that match the garments she was discussing. Her third volume, Patterns of fashion : the cut and construction of clothes for men and women, c1560-1620 has been the standard for late period costuming for at least 30 years.

She also created Patterns of Fashion 4: The Cut and Construction of Linen Shirts, Smocks, Neckwear, Headwear and Accessories for Men and Women C. 1540-1660 (Patterns of Fashion). These are great resources to have.

Arnold also has her masterwork, Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d that gives many references to garments from the purchasing and inventory records. If you want to have a complete understanding of Elizabethan high status garments, this is a pretty important book to have as well.

For a full understanding of late period English clothing, I need to mention the work of The Tudor Tailor group. They have a number of books and articles, all focused on the Tudor time period, backed up by solid research into the documentary accounts of the day, along with images and extant items. I’ve got several of these books, and they are both detail filled, and very readable. They not only have their books, but also patterns and various raw materials, ribbon, jewels, and fabrics on their website.

The first book of the series, The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing Sixteenth-Century Dress provides important background knowledge and an overview. I would certainly look at it, and not just go on the more specialized titles.

kings20servantsThe King’s Servants is a great resource for men’s clothing, especially if you want to delve into the livery garments of the time. Many of the images from the period have liveried retainers, and we need more of them in the SCA. Apparently not available on Amazon, you can try Potboiler Press: He may be back open for business.

The Queen’s Servants: Gentlewomen’s Dress at the Accession of Henry VIII (Tudor Tailor Case Studies). I don’t have this one yet, but I need it. Too often, American reenactors only look at the highest status outfits, but many noble people were part of the Queen’s servants, and would have been dressed accordingly.
The Tudor Child: Clothing and Culture 1485 to 1625 Perfect if you have children who are willing to dress in late period. (Or are too little to refuse.)

The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant, 2nd Edition: Common Garments 1100-1480 by Sarah Thursfield is an excellent resource as well. While its focus range is larger than the other late period books discussed, the basic undergarments changed very little. Thus it helps the late period tailor as well. I will note that there ARE downloads for at least the 1st edition available on the web. However, I’m not linking them, because I believe those copies are illegal, and violate her copyright. It is important to support the people to help make information accessible to all. Pirate download sites are also a risk for virus transmission, too. Don’t do it.

Similarily, Cut My Cote, a older book that emphasizes the reasons behind geometric construction can help round out your library. Knowing how patterns have changed over time really helps understand the manuscript images and paintings, as well as extant items.


Citations courtesy of WorldCat. If the book is not in any library near you, search for the author/title again, because often there are multiple entries for a single book.

Arnold, Janet. 1985. Patterns of fashion: the cut and construction of clothes for men and women, c1560-1620. London: Macmillan.

Arnold, Janet, Jenny Tiramani, and Santina M. Levey. 2008. Patterns of fashion 4: the cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women c.1540-1660. Hollywood, CA: Quite Specific Media Group.

Arnold, Janet. 2014. Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe unlock’d: the inventories of the Wardrobe of Robes prepared in July 1600 edited from Stowe MS 557 in the British Library, MS LR 2/121 in the Public Record Office, London and MS V.b.72 in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC. Leeds: Maney Publishing.

Mikhaila, Ninya, and Jane Malcolm-Davies. 2006. The Tudor tailor: reconstructing 16th-century dress. Hollywood, Calif: Costume and Fashion Press.

Johnson, Caroline, Jane Malcolm-Davies, and Ninya Mikhaila. 2009. The king’s servants: men’s dress at the accession of Henry VIII. Lightwater, Surrey [England]: Fat Goose Press.

Johnson, Caroline, Jane Malcolm-Davies, Ninya Mikhaila, and Michael Perry. 2011. The queen’s servants: gentlewomen’s dress at the accession of Henry VIII : a Tudor tailor case study. Lightwater, Surrey [England]: Fat Goose Press.

Huggett, Jane, Ninya Mikhaila, Jane Malcolm-Davies, and Michael Perry. 2013. The Tudor child: clothing and culture 1485 to 1625. [Hollywood, Calif.]: [Quite Specific Media].

Thursfield, Sarah. 2015. The medieval tailor’s assistant: common garments, 1100-1480.2nd edition.

Burnham, Dorothy K. 1973. Cut my cote. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum.