• University of Glasgow
  • Historic Royal Palaces logo

A History of Royal Fashion

Explore how British royalty have influenced fashion over the last 500 years, from the Tudors to the Windsors.

57,877 enrolled on this course

A History of Royal Fashion
  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours
  • 100% online

    Learn at your own paceHow it works
  • Unlimited

    $15.83/monthLearn more

Enter the world of British royal fashion and discover its rich history

A History of Royal Fashion welcomes you on a 5-week journey into the wardrobes of British kings and queens. Your fashion history exploration will span across five royal dynasties from the Tudors, Stuarts and Georgians to the Victorians and Windsors.

You’ll receive exclusive access to the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, and experts at the University of Glasgow and Historic Royal Palaces will invite you to look at a variety of sources that will help you to study the fashion history of British monarchs.

Discover the fashion of the Tudors

Enter the extravagant world of Tudor fashion and learn about how the Tudors used fashion to project power and wealth, how portraits could be used as propaganda and how Henry VIII liked to dress. Observe a real Tudor hat and learn about the dress from the famous ditchley portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.

Step into the wardrobes of the Stuarts, Georgians and Victorians

Travel back in time to a 17th Century fancy dress party and witness the costumes and glamorous masques of the Stuart period. Then jump forward to the Georgian period and step into court. You’ll experience courtly dress and big wigs before learning about revolutionary fashion during this time.

Learn about Queen Victoria’s wardrobe and the impact of technological advancements in society on the fashion industry. Take a look at royal wedding dresses and discover Victorian fashion for mourning.

Exploring British royal fashion today

End your journey through the royal eras by studying the fashion of the Windsors. Explore how royal fashion developed into a less extravagant display of suits and blazers.

At the end of the course, you’ll learn about how we conserve and display royal fashion and create exhibitions to highlight the ever-changing trends of British monarchs.

Skip to 0 minutes and 18 seconds DR 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 seconds The 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 second I’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 seconds History 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?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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 history and/or the Royals. No prior knowledge is required; all learners are welcome.

Who will you learn with?

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.

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

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.

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.

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?

The University of Glasgow

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.

  • Established

    1451
  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

Historic Royal Palaces

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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Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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