This peer-reviewed article was developed from Tiramani’s presentation at the ‘Picturing Shakespeare’ conference at the University of Toronto in 2002. At this conference, Tiramani and Susan North, Dress Curator at the V&A, were invited to give presentations on the clothing worn by the sitter in ‘The Sanders Portrait’, a painting of 1603 reputed to be a portrait of Shakespeare. In her article in Costume, Tiramani provides a framework for addressing the identity of the sitter, through an analysis of how the qualities of costume indicate class and status in ‘The Sanders Portrait’ and other works of the same period. In conducting this analysis, Tiramani draws on her extensive primary research on clothing of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and her experience as Director of Theatre Design and Master of Clothing at the Globe Theatre, London. One method she adopts in the article is to use sixteenth century accounts of how to render the differing qualities of costume in paint, as a means to test her own reading of costume details in the portrait. This allows Tiramani to confirm issues of social status in the portrait, particularly the possibility that the sitter may have been celebrating a rise in status. Tiramani uses a firmly established dating of 1603 for ‘The Sanders Portrait’ (established by the Canadian Conservation Institute) to marshall the available evidence for Shakespeare’s social status at that date, including the letters patent issued by James I in 1603, authorizing Shakespeare and his company to perform plays throughout the realm. Her conclusion is that ‘The Sanders Portrait’, rather than being identifiably a portrait of Shakespeare, instead presents a man appearing exactly as Shakespeare ‘might have chosen to be painted’ at that date, showing how analysis of the material culture of clothing can assist research on Shakespeare and Shakespearean Theatre.