You’ve Just Received Your Coronation Invitation! Now, What to Wear?!

You’ve Just Received Your Coronation Invitation! Now, What to Wear?!

My husband and I have just received our invitation to the coronation. We are SO honored to make the list. I hear 3,000 people throughout Christendom have been invited to attend and we‘re one of the lucky aristocrats.

And of course, I’m already in a dither about what to wear. Anybody who is anybody will be there. We’ll be hobnobbing with princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, earls and countesses. So we mustn’t let the side down.

Fortunately, my dear husband says I must spare no expense to dress befitting my station as Lady of the Manor. So let’s begin with my dress.

Choosing the color is so difficult. Only royalty are allowed to wear the colors of gold and purple by order of Edward III. My court spies are telling me that the queen is wearing robes and a  dress of purple velvet furred with miniver or powdered ermine and garnished with aglets of silver and gilt. No surprise there. Purple’s pretty standard for royalty.

Well, I won’t be allowed to wear fur – too expensive for my husband and too above my station to pull off. I do so love the look and feel of fur, but alas it’s not for me.

What’s coming out of London is that the high-ranking noblewomen will be wearing scarlet or crimson velvet, or dresses made of white cloth of gold.

But why velvet? I know that velvet is so popular with high noble women. Certainly it has a rich look to it. But it’s going to be July – the height of summer! And velvet is so hot to wear! I can’t stand it. I’m not wearing it.

So no velvet…and no purple, gold, scarlet or crimson colors for me. Mmmm. I’m thinking green – a noble color to be sure, and will only complement the higher-born ladies fashion.

I’ve ordered 6 yards of green silk for my dress. Dear I know, but truly how often is one invited to a coronation?

Ladies-Fashiions-1BritLibThese dresses are lovely and vey much the style I shall be wearing, but without the “old-fashioned hennin. Courtesy of the British Manuscript Library Collection.

Fortunately with my figure, I look good in the high-waisted style of today’s fashion with the full skirt. My arms are slender and look delicate and fine in the tight sleeves worn. Perhaps I will trim the collar ever so lightly in black velvet – as a nod to velvet’s popularity among the noblesse oblige. And mayhap I can persuade my husband into fur cuffs for my sleeves – a lesser fur to be sure, but if not, black velvet will have to do.

I’ve also asked for a small train to be added to the back of my dress – 3 feet should suffice I would think That’s long enough for people to be aware of my social rank and short enough that it won’t be stepped on in that huge crowd. Honestly, some ladies are so inconsiderate that they wear their trains so long that I live in fear of stepping on one and destroying our family’s reputation. Truly, these events can be fraught with danger.

Now of course, there’s the matter of my hennin. For years I’ve been wearing the pointy hat that every noble woman was expected to wear. But I’m quite tall for a woman so I never liked tottering around with that steeple on my head. I was always banging it on a low-hanging doorway. Really quite impractical. (My friend Lady Marie  – she’s from France –  often wore a hennin that was 36 inches high! But she’s so short she could pull off balancing a huge cone on her head. Really sometimes her hennins were so elaborate, I just wanted to call her ‘conehead’.)

But thankfully, there’s a fashion change brewing in hennins. Anyone wearing a pointed hennin to the coronation will be so yesterday I don’t know how they will show their faces. I hear the noblest of ladies are now wearing an intricately embroidered square bonnet perched on the back of her head at almost a 90-degree angle. No points at all. What a huge change in fashion that is! And I for one, am quite grateful for it.

I just adore the new flatter hennins. Much more practical.

When I heard that the news, I immediately contacted my milliner to order this new design. No one will say that we are out of touch with the latest court fashion.

The fabric on my hennin shall be embroidered in very pale green thread, to match my dress. The veil will be of cream linen and propped up on wires. I know it’s silly. It looks like I’m a bird in flight with this contraption on my head. And I do hate that all of my hair will be hidden in the bonnet as I have beautiful hair. But I mustn’t say that aloud as all the royal ladies shall follow the queen’s lead and wear these newer, flatter headdresses.

Before the coronation, I must send word to my hair stylist, Rudolfo, to come and pluck my hair.  I’ll need to raise my forehead line several inches to look absolutely perfect for the coronation. I don’t want the new queen to think me a peasant with hair so low on my forehead. And I may have him pluck my eyebrows as well, since a smooth brow from eye to hairline is considered beautiful. After all, we will be sitting at the Lords and Ladies table and must put our best face forward.

Due to the low cut of my dress, my darling husband, Thomas, has given me a rather exquisite necklace to wear. Emeralds. Granted there is only one emerald dangling from a thin gold chain, but it’s the richest piece of jewelry I own. Perhaps my mother-in-law would lend me a few sparkly items from her jewel collection. She is ill and unable to make the journey to London for the coronation so she shouldn’t mind if I borrow a few rings and her stunning ruby and gold choker.

In all my finery, I shall truly feel like Queen for a Day!


Source: King Richard III 1483-1485 English Costume by Dion Clayton Clathrop by Pauline Weston Thomas for