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Online course

A History of Royal Fashion

From Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth II, explore how British kings and queens have influenced fashion over 500 years.

Learn how royalty used fashion to entertain, control and impress

A History of Royal Fashion takes you into the wardrobes of British kings and queens across five royal dynasties from the Tudors, Stuarts and Georgians to the Victorians and Windsors.

With exclusive access to the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, experts at the University of Glasgow and Historic Royal Palaces will introduce you to the different sources we can use to study fashion history.

Go behind the scenes at the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and the Banqueting House to explore the styles of monarchs and their families and the impact of their clothing on society.

Skip to 0 minutes and 18 secondsDR SALLY TUCKETT: Our clothes say a lot about us, but they say even more about the society in which we live in. We dress to suit the environment or for the weather. We choose outfits for special occasions like weddings. Some of us are made to wear certain types of clothing like school uniform, and most of us like to think that our clothing expresses our individuality and personal style.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsThe clothing of British Royalty is no different. Historic royal fashion could be practical and functional. It can also be decorative, and frivolous, and anything in between. And by studying their clothes, we can learn a lot about the monarchs of the past and about their subjects.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 secondI'm Dr. Sally Tuckett, lecturer in dress and textile histories at the University of Glasgow. And along with colleagues at Glasgow and curators at Historic Royal Palaces, this free online course is going to take you behind the scenes of the royal wardrobes of the kings and queens of Britain.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 secondsHistory of Royal Fashion has a range of activities and materials that are designed to give you the chance to engage with other learners and to encourage you to think about the links between princely costumes of the past and our own clothing choices today. We're not as different as you might think. We will look at the fashion successes, eccentricities, and failures of a different royal dynasty each week. From a sumptuous court of the tudors at Hampton Court Palace to the sleek and elegant Windsors at Kensington, join us to explore how royals use fashion and clothing to control, to entertain, and to impress.

What topics will you cover?

  • Week 1 – Step into the square shoes of the Tudors and see how their lavish clothes were designed to project power, wealth and control
  • Week 2 – The Stuarts are centre stage to showcase how they dressed for leisure and influenced new trends through performance in an increasing time of conflict
  • Week 3 – Explore the glamorous Georgians, their century of economic and social change, extreme fashions and an era marked by very public and very private monarchs
  • Week 4 – Move into the reign of Queen Victoria, her own changing wardrobe and how technological advancements took fashion forwards
  • Week 5 – Welcome to the 20th century where the Windsors balance royal fashion with diplomacy and expectations in an era of mass media and celebrity

When would you like to start?

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Assess the significance of fashion and clothing to individual and collective British royals
  • Identify key fashion developments from the sixteenth century to the present day
  • Reflect on how and why fashions have changed
  • Explore the significance of different primary sources for understanding fashion history
  • Develop an understanding of the history of British monarchs, their family and their reigns

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for those who have an interest in fashion and history. No prior knowledge is required; all learners are welcome.

Who will you learn with?

Sally Tuckett

I am lecturer in dress and textile histories at the University of Glasgow. I’m a social historian who uses the study of dress and textiles as a way to access the past.

Eleri Lynn

I am Curator of the Dress Collection at Historic Royal Palaces, where I look after 10,000 items of royal, court and ceremonial dress in the magical surroundings of Hampton Court Palace

Matthew Storey

I'm a collections curator at Historic Royal Palaces. I work with everything from paintings to royal dress. I'm interested in what the collections can tell us about who made and used them.

Victoria Price

I am a senior lecturer in early modern theatre and drama at the University of Glasgow. I'm a theatre historian who examines plays and masques to learn about early modern performance practices.

Claudia Acott Williams

I am a Curator at Historic Royal Palaces. I take care of Kensington Palace and its collections, tell stories about the people who lived here and help look after the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection.

Who developed the course?

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle.

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