Anne Boleyn Gown

This beautiful ornate jewelled blue gown was inspired by Henry VIII’s glamorous and attractive second wife ‘Anne Boleyn’ who is possibly one of the most famous people in English history.

Her life was steeped in drama, intrigue, romance, passion and ultimately tragedy.  I first saw the film’ Anne of the Thousand Days in 1969, starring Genevieve Bujold as Anne and it inspired in her a life long passion for anything associated with her.

The bodice is the typical style of the period with a rigid, flat fronted and stiffened shape. The neckline of the gown is the ‘square’ Tudor shape and been edged with a billiment, this is an ornate edging set with gold plated cabochons, lapis lazuli gemstones and large pearls.  The large brooch attached is made of sapphire jewels and drop pearls. It is a copy of a brooch worn by Elizabeth I in a portrait painted in 1547 when she was just 13 years old.

The gown laces at the back to show wealth as a maid was required to lace the dress.  Working class and poor women had front lacing dresses. A rectangle of fabric called a placket is inserted at the back of the dress for modesty. A farthingale and underskirt are worn with this gown. The underskirt is made of six cotton panels with an expensive fabric used for the front panel only.  This panel is lined with heavy felt so the skirt hangs well and keeps its shape.

It is made of gold damask fabric  embroidered in gold thread with gold spangles to add glamour and sparkle. The lower edge is finished with a golden trim.

The sleeves are the typical ‘hanging sleeves’ or ‘Boleyn sleeves ‘of the period.  They are said to have been brought to the English court by Anne Boleyn who had recently returned from France.

It was reported she had a sixth nail growing at the end of her little finger.  Anne hated what some called ‘a deformity’ .So she created the hanging sleeves to cover her hands.  The sleeves are made in two parts.  The upper sleeve is cut in blue velvet in a trumpet shape tight at the top flaring out at the elbow. The blue satin lining is cut very long so it can create a very wide cuff. The lower sleeves are a separate garment which matches the underskirt. They are cut from gold damask lined with heavy felt.  The fabric is ‘slashed’ to show the fabric of the garment beneath.  The edges of the slash and wrist are trimmed with gold/black trim and embellished with elaborate jewelled buttons. White silk has been pulled through the slashes to create an attractive wrist frill and’ puffed effect’.  The lower sleeves are detachable and are tied to the upper sleeve by matching velvet ribbons. A girdle and necklace matching the billiment on the neckline are worn and a lavish peacock feather fan is carried.

A French Hood is worn, this is characterized by a rounded shape, contrasted with the angular ‘English’ or gable hood. It was introduced to England primarily by Anne Boleyn, who had been raised in France.  It has been created from two pieces of buckram ( heavy canvas stiffened with glue) and edged with heavy millinery wire . The pieces are covered with a light padding fabric first, then covered in black velvet. They are lined with satin are then stitched together. A billiment created from wired pearls and jewels is attached along the edges and a gold, pleated ribbon stitched around the base. A bag of black silk is attached to the back.

All in all a regal dress fit for ‘Queen Anne Boleyn’

18 Responses to “Anne Boleyn Gown”

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  1. Nicola Jane says:

    I love Tudor dresses, it is my favourite period for the dresses and the jewellery, I would love to wear something like this. it is such an amazing time.

    • Julia says:

      Hi Nicola

      Thank you for your comment- I am really pleased you like my Anne Boleyn dress.

      I will be adding a new gown in the costume design section shortly so please keep checking
      my website.

  2. gillian grant says:

    Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

  3. Natalie says:

    I love this gown! Absolutely stunning! I am a huge fan of all things Tudor and particularly interested in Anne Boleyn. I run a website dedicated to researching and documenting buildings that Anne Boleyn visited in her lifetime that we can visit today. The site is also a place to share information about Life in Tudor England and other Tudor personalities. You are obviously very talented! I hope to own such a sumptuous gown one day 🙂

  4. Julia says:

    Hi Natalie

    I am really pleased to hear you have a website about Anne Boleyn, like you I have always been interested in all aspects of her life. She sounded like such a fascinating and charismatic person.

    I’m really glad to hear you like my Anne Boleyn Gown, thank you for the great comments – much appreciated.

    Julia (Julia Renaissance Costumes)

  5. Kris says:

    I was doing some Anne Boleyn research and came across your site. This gown is beautiful. I’m actually working on an Anne Boleyn gown of my own and I love how yours came out. It actually looks like the same pattern that I am using for my own gown. If it is, then I will be very pleased with the end result!

    • Julia says:

      Hi Kris

      Thank you for the comment – I am pleased you like my dress.

      Please could you forward a picture of your gown to me when you have finished it – I would love to see it.

      Thank you


      • Kris says:

        I will! It will probably be a couple months before it’s done. Hopefully it will be ready for the next Renaissance Faire I go to!

  6. Ailsa Lilley says:

    Dear Julia
    I saw your interview last year on Look North and thought – WOW. I would love to create dresses and head wear like you. Could you please tell me how to construct a dress and French hood. I would love to make one myself.

    You should be on route to Hollywood.


    • Julia says:

      Hi Alisa

      Thank you for your comments – I am happy you saw me on Look North and liked my gowns.

      I would recommend the book ‘The Tudor Tailor’ by Ninya Mikhalia and Jane Malcom-Davies as a very good starting point for the construction of Tudor costumes. It contains full instructions as well as patterns for gowns and headdresses.

      Hope this is of some help

      All the best


      • Ailsa Lilley says:

        I have just bought that book and i am currently trying to create a Tudor dress. i am still at the drawing stage. Thank you so very much for giving me the information for the book i need.

        Kind Regards


  7. Hi

    Your gown is so lovely, yes I am to a great fan of Anne Boylen like you, would love to met her.

    I truly love The Tudors, in the time of Henry 8th

    best wishes

  8. Teresa says:

    Wow… I love this Anne Boleyn Gown – Anne has always been my favourite wife of Henry VIII – your dress looks like a portrait of her I’ve seen in the National Portrait Gallery. The only difference is her gown looks black and this gown is royal blue. I like the French Hood and jewellery as well – the whole outfit is wonderful!

  9. ilene says:

    I have always liked historical costumes – I love this blue silk ‘Anne Boleyn’ Gown – its really gorgeous!

  10. Erica says:

    I really really love this gown – it’s gorgeous!!

  11. Ruth says:

    Hi Julia,

    I love this costume. I came across your page whilst looking for inspiration. I’m making an Anne Bolyne costume for my friend’s daughter and I want to make it as true to type as I can. Being 9 years old however, her daughter wants black and gold fabric. No problems there. I’m struggling with the sleeves though and I think that the way your costume’s sleeve is gathered at the wrist may just be the answer. I’ve never made anything before and have had to learn to use a sewing machine, look up dressmaking tips etc, so no pressure then… I’m putting it away for today and going to the pub with my hubby. Tomorrow will bring fresh eyes and finished sleeves. I hope. 🙂

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