TAWDRY, an adjective used to characterize cheap finery, and especially things which imitate in a cheap way that which is rich or costly, or adornments of which the freshness and elegance have worn off. The word is first used in combination in the phrase " tawdry lace," a shortened form or corruption of St Audrey's or St Awdrey's lace. St Audrey was St Etheldreda, who founded Ely cathedral, and it is generally accepted that tawdry-laces or tawdries were necklaces bought at St Audrey's Fair on the 17th of October. Nares (Glossary to the Works of English Authors, 1859) gives as an alternative the story that the saint died of a swelling in the throat, which she took as a judgment for having worn fine necklaces in her youth.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)