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Decoding the Royal Wardrobe: From the Tudors to Today

Evening Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2073
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Queen Elizabeth I (the Ditchley portrait), ca. 1592, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (National Portrait Gallery/London)


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • For multiple registrations, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses.

There’s more to the gowns, crowns, uniforms, and regalia of British royalty than meets the eye. The history of the monarchy—and England—is told in part through their attire. Join Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger for a glimpse into the palace closet that reveals 500 years of royal fashion choices. In an entertaining evening, she decodes the messages and symbolism behind those choices, exploring how monarchs used their wardrobes to project power, influence, politics, and personality.

How did Henry VIII modify the styles of previous kings to communicate his own more active image? Why did Elizabeth I drape herself in pearls and include specific emblems on her outfits? And why did the Tudors wear so much red? Take a look at the way hairstyles defined the English Civil War and examine how Queen Victoria’s white wedding gown and black mourning dresses helped shape our sense of her reign.

Participants also gain an understanding of how 20th-century royals used uniforms and simpler attire to project a sense of connection to their subjects in wartime, and the ways Queen Elizabeth II has deployed an evolving wardrobe to tell the story of monarchy in modern times.

Lloyd-Stanger is the former manager of visitor education at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.