King James VI of Scotland Court Costume


King James VI of Scotland wears an elegant  Blue Silk and Damask Court Costume.

James became King of Scotland when he was just thirteen months old, succeeding his mother Mary, Queen of Scots, who had been compelled to abdicate in his favour.  In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died without issue. He then ruled the combined kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland for 22 years, often using the new title King of Great Britain, until his death at the age of 58. James, in line with previous monarchs of England, also claimed the title King of France, although he did not actually rule there. Male clothing of the early 17th Century consisted of shirt, stockings or hosen as well as a doublet with sleeves, breeches, belt, cloak, shoes and hat.

James is wearing a beautiful pale blue silk doublet – it is cut in the fashionable style of the period with back side seams. He adopted the habit of wearing a padded doublet maybe to help protect him from possible assassins?  Apparently he had a phobia of being stabbed – some said stemming from when he was in the womb at the time Rizzio was murdered in front of Mary Queen of Scots. The Doublet is fastened with antique gold and black buttons and interlined with fine wool and canvas for body. There are tabs on the waistband and caps on the sleeves. The sleeves are curved, cut in two pieces and decorated with buttons. The doublet and sleeves are lined in black satin.An attractive set of collars and cuffs made of fine white cotton lawn is visible under the doublet. They have been edged with delicate lace.

An elegant pair of slashed breeches, or slops as they were known, are worn.

Breeches were worn by both the Upper and Lower classes and therefore came in a variety of fabrics from the most expensive to the very cheapest. A base for the breeches is created from calico to enable alterations to be made. An inner layer of pale blue silk is gathered to the base. Strips of damask fabric (panes) are stiffened with canvas and sewn to the base.

The front and back seams are stitched and the waistband and leg bands attached. The breeches are fully lined in black satin and closed at the front with hooks and eyes. James wears fine blue stockings beneath his gold embroidered velvet garter.Over his doublet James wears a velvet cloak with a collar – which is lined with black and gold brocade.  It has been cut from a full circle of fabric, which is seamed to accommodate the width.  Cloaks were an essential item of clothing for both men and women of the era. Both full circle and half circle cloaks were worn. Cloaks also came in varying lengths – some covered as far as the waist, others as far as the knee and some reached the floor. They had long ties to hold them on, which were fastened under the arm and tied across the body in front. For gentlemen, they were tied on one shoulder to leave the other arm free to use the sword.

The sword worn by the King is a rapier similar to the type used during this period. It is held in position by a leather frog of black leather and rivets – it has three buckles which can be adjusted to accommodate the sword.

His latchet shoes are made of fine black leather fastened by satin rosettes – these types of shoes can be seen in portraits of the King.

James wears an elegant black hat.  It has been created from a base of buckram fabric edged with wire which is covered in velvet and lined with satin. Hats were an essential part of clothing for men and women and played an important part in the fashion of the day, which dictated that the head must remain covered, unless in the presence of a person of higher rank than the wearer, when the hat would be respectfully removed. The hat has a turned up brim fastened to the crown with a jewelled brooch and ostrich feathers are attached to the hat band. The Upper Classes used a variety of materials in their hats but it is fascinating to note that in 1571 a law was passed which ordered everyone over the age of six to wear a woollen cap on Sundays and holidays in order to help England’s wool trade. The Upper Classes, however, were excused from obeying this law!

Over his silk doublet James wears a fabulous chain of office.  It was inspired by a portrait of the King painted in 1606 by John de Critz.  It has been created from gold filigree pieces, jewels and pearls.

A beautiful gold enamelled St George and the Dragon Pendant hung from the centre completes this elegant outfit befitting a King of both Scotland and England!

2 Responses to “King James VI of Scotland Court Costume”

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  1. Alex Bannerman says:

    We are interested in having to James the first Court costumes made for men, with corresponding costumes made for two women. This would be for a very small production. They need to be high-quality, using stunning looking fabric with plenty of the tail. The men’s costumes would include capes, and the ladies costumes would include the upper neck wings. These would be costumes prepared for purchase, not rental. Can you assist? There is plenty of time for their preparation. We are talking about approximately 18 months out.

    • Julia says:

      Hi Alex

      I am sorry for the very late reply.

      I am sorry but I do not accept costume commissions – you could try Farthingale’s
      ( who sell costume online or Cosprop (
      who are based in London and they may be able to sell you some outfits.

      Hope you can find what you are looking for.

      All the best


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