Headgear: A brief introductionBy Lady Jehanne de Hugenin
This handout is intended as a general survey of some trends in medieval headgear; for more detailed and hands-on information you’ll have to do your own research. I’ve included a bibliography and a list of useful SCA internet sites.
This is also a fairly selective discussion, and there will be examples of headgear in various timeslots with which I have not dealt at all. I have, however, tried to cover the major ones.
IntroductionThe hat maketh the wo/man! It’s always a source of sadness to me how many people make magnificent SCA costumes and then fail to complete them with the relevant headgear. More than any other accessory, what you wear on your head completes the look of your clothing; it’s essential to the flavour of the majority of centuries in the medieval era.
More than this, the presence of headgear can be a matter of social usage as well as look. This is, of course, doubly true of women. Most early male personas can get away with no headgear, and even in later centuries the absence of a hat or hood is not a major social faux pas. When it comes to women, however, it is pretty generally the case that her head should be covered, and there are very few times and places where an uncovered head would be acceptable. (The late 14th century is one example of the feminine uncovered head).
Men’s headgear can be either the hat or the hood variety. .Generally, women wear veils of one kind or another, often attached to some kind of head-dress; I have given a rough outline of the trends below. The useful thing with a lot of women’s headdresses is that it’s easy to hide a short modern hairstyle underneath them!
NB the examples below are rather skewed towards England and France, as those are the main areas covered by the costume books in my possession.
BibliographyMary G. Houston. Medieval Costume in England and France. 1939. London: Black.
Francis M. Kelly and Randolphe Schwabe. A Short History of Costume and Armour, chiefly in England. 1931. London: Batsford.
How to wear a veil, or a veil and circlet (or just a circlet) gracefully, with photos. (1000-1300 or so)
Easy Men’s Hats - (1200-1470s; concentrated on the later range) Yup, even the men wore something on their heads. (class)
Women’s Rolled (stuffed) Hats (1390-1470)- and variations thereon. (class)
Men’s Rolled (stuffed) Hats (1390-1470)- and variations thereon. (class)
A 13th Century hat for women (the “coffee filter hat” sometimes called a “toque” or “fillet.”)
How to be a Hoodlum (1300-1470)- The medieval hood for men and women. (class)
Coifs (1200 onwards)- More specifics for men and women. (class)
How to make an English gable head-dress (Tudor).
How to make a French hood.