Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Clara's 1620 Royal Court Gown

Clara's dress this week is a court gown suitable for visiting with royalty. My daughter asked if this was a Queen Elizabeth dress. Queen Elizabeth I lived from 1558-1603, so the king would have been James I (who died in March 1625) or Charles I, who succeeded James. However, fashions did not change very much at that time, so Clara's dress does indeed look like an Elizabethan dress. Children of noblemen dressed in the same style the adults did, just in smaller sizes, so Clara's dress looks almost just like one an adult would wear.

The original dress is in a painting of the English nobleman, Sir Thomas Lucy and his family from 1625, painted by Cornelius Johnson, a Dutch artist. In this painting, there are seven children, although the Lucy family eventually had thirteen! An older boy stands near his father on the left, dressed in adult-style clothing. The three daughters have very similar dresses, with only small variations in style. The baby may be a boy or a girl... there really is no way to tell, since baby boys wore the same dresses as baby girls. The two children in front are actually boys. Although they are wearing dresses like the baby, the style of dress is masculine, with a doublet top like their father. At this time, boys wore dresses until they were about 5-7 years old. I am sure there are plenty of boys out there who would be glad they did not live back in the 1600s... although the practice of keeping baby boys in dresses persisted through the late 1900s, but only until a boy was toilet-trained at about age 2.

In the painting, you may be able to see the original colors of rusty red and greenish-gray brocade fabric, with wide white lace at the neck, cuff, and collar. The tiara is gold inset with a red gemstone. The girl on the right is wearing some cute little red slippers, which I used for the shoes. (Correction August 16, 2013: The child on the right is most likely a boy, since he also has a double top. Thank you John Cass.)

To print Clara's outfit, use this PDF file:
Clara's Dress 31 (770k)

Clara is a free, printable paper doll. Clara will continue to be available on this blog as long as I post new fashion pages for her. You can read the introduction for the Clara paper doll here.

To print the Clara paper doll, use this PDF file:
The Clara Paper Doll (745k)


  1. Wow! This is such a beautiful dress!

  2. A gorgeous dress and an interesting history lesson. Thank you for all of these, they are lovely.

  3. I was thinking the child on the right wearing the red shoes is a boy... the child has a doublet top, plus they are holding a bow, painter's may have had a child hold a masculine object such as a weapon to distinguish between a boy and a girl.

    1. I think you are right. He also has a doublet top like the two smaller boys. I didn't look closely, because the cloth matched his sisters.

  4. Thank you so much for making these dolls available to us! I use them in home educating my daughter and she loves them -- as do I!