The Tudors were the British royal family from the years 1485 to 1603. Beginning with Henry VII, and progressing through Henry VIII, his short-lived son, Edward VI, and winding down with his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, the Tudors created the styles of the day by the fashions they chose for themselves. Most notable in the group for their elaborate, jeweled costumes were Henry the VIII and his daughter by Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I.
Straight Hair Styles
During the reign of King Henry VIII, women of the Tudor era grew their hair very long, but almost always pinned it up beneath a headdress. As an everyday hairstyle, noble women would put their hair in buns prior to applying richly decorated headpieces to match their gowns. In keeping with the style choices of Henry’s queens, ladies of the court wore their hair parted in the middle and swept smoothly to the sides beneath their headdresses.
On special occasions, however, such as festivals or coronations, women often wore their hair down to show off its beauty. Tudor-era brides wore long, flowing hair dressed simply with fresh flowers to symbolize virginity.
As headdresses began to lose favor with ladies of the court, they might have their hairdressers create elaborate braided and twisted hairstyles held in place with decorative combs and hairpins, just as ornate as the fabulously rich gowns women preferred in Tudor times.
Curled Hair Styles
Although Queen Elizabeth wore her hair long and loose on her coronation day, she later adopted a short curly hairstyle which brought curls back into vogue. Tudor ladies curled their hair with heated tongs for a closely curled, often frizzy effect.
To achieve the favored high-forehead look which the Queen modeled, a woman of the era would pluck her hairline wear her hair swept back. Queen Elizabeth’s style sent elaborate headdresses packing. Elizabethan ladies wore jewels in their hair or gathered it into a snood—a pouch made of silk netting or lace—which was bedecked with gold trim and jewels.
Gentlemen of the royal court during the Tudor era dressed as richly as their female counterparts, embracing the opulent styles favored by Henry VIII. A gentleman’s barber applied such products as starch, powder, wax, perfume and dye to tame and embellish men’s shoulder-length hair. When curls became popular, men would have their hair curled with hot irons in a style known as “love locks.” Men who were losing their hair often wore wigs in the latest styles.
Especially during Elizabeth’s monarchy, fashionable men and women favored light-colored hair. If they were not blessed with the preferred color, as was the Queen with her naturally reddish-blond hair, they would wash their hair with henna to imitate their monarch’s hair color. Noblewomen would spread their tresses in the sun in hopes of absorbing glints of gold; they would treat their locks with yellow dye as well. Tudor women frequently wore wigs in light-colored, fashionable styles, as did Queen Elizabeth herself.