MEDIEVAL WOMAN HOME PAGE
BASIC CLOTHING PATTERNS &
(No, seriously, put something
on your head!)
FELT HATS - THE COCKED CAP - HOODS - SUGARLOAF HAT -
COIFS - VEILS - WAYS TO WEAR
the middle ages, men and women wore decorative hoods or felt hats and
most good ladies covered their hair.
Wealthier persons might favour red, the most popular colour for hose
Women of all classes wore headcoverings. It was not so good for a woman
to out bare-headed in public unless she was unmarried or Italian. Certainly
it could mark her as a woman of ill-repute! Young unmarried girls did
wear their hair out, but generally only while they were young. Most
women wore a veil of some kind, and so should you. While you may feel
silly in it at first, it will keep the sun and wind off. You can wear
a band around your head to keep your veil in place. This could be embroidered,
metalwork or flowers! If you are determined not to wear one, or are
a man, try a hood. Or a felt hat. Something.
at right, Annette wears a wimple to protect her from the sun and looks
every bit the real medieval woman!
Felt hats were usually worn by men, sometimes as well as a hood. The
style tended to be a little shapeless by todays standards with the brim
turned down. These hats can sometimes be picked up cheaply in Op Shops
or flea markets. They do look nice with a badge pinned on.
The cocked cap or Robin Hood hat (also known later as the bycocket)
was also widely worn by nobles and merchant class men and women alike,
often with a decorative pheasant's feather tucked into the upturned
edge. Shown at right is a cocked cap with peacock feather and pewter
Both men and women wore hoods of all colours. The early medieval period
has a very easy construction which can be seen on the brown, linen hood
on the left. Yes, it's a rectangle and a semicircle. That's all there
is to that one!
Hoods can be plain or decorative with daggues (the bits that hand down
around the bottom) and long liripipes (the long dangly bit on the hood
at the back). The blue hood shown at the right is more complex. There
is a small, triangula gore over the shoulder and the cowl part is cut
into a decorative design. This style of hood is a little tricky to make
but dressus up a basic tunic. Hoods
can be made particolour- one colour on the left, another colour on the
The sugarloaf or bag hat
The sugarloaf hat or bag hat was also worn by men during
some of the medieval period. It's very easy to make. Essentially, it's
2 U-shapes sewn together so it looks like a bag. It's quite long, and
it's worn with the mouth rolled up to form a bit of a padded roll look.
The rest of the bag hangs down the side of the head in a decorative
manner. The echos the very popular chaperon hat worn by townmen which
was more elaborate and required more tailoring. The bag hat was worn
by men only. Shown at left is a man wearing a bag hat from a 15th century
Book of Hours.
Another great medieval headcovering which is particularly well-suited
to food vendors is the coif. Very much life a surf life-saver cap or
baby bonnet, it keeps the hair out of the eyes and off the face of the
wearer. Often, the coif is worn under other caps. It also keeps the
sweat off your hat on a hot day and keeps a head warm on a cold one.
Shown at left, Chris wears a coif untied.
If you are a medieval woman, you are almost definately wearing a veil.
If you are married, you might also wear a wimple. As a stallholder,
you might want to skip the wimple, although it does keep the sun off
your neck and chest to prevent sunburn. Generally, only a young, unmarried
girl would have her hair out, but even then she would likely have a
floral wreath for a special occasion such as a tournament or festival
or some pretty braiding. A veil is one of the easiest way to turn your
look from "I'm-playing-dress-ups" to "I-look-like-a-real-medieval-person."
Veils and wimples can be made from fine
lawns, linens or if you are wealthy, silk. A short veil with a circlet
looks good on anyone. Ladies with long hair should wear a hairnet underneath
or have hair plaited. Your circlet could also be a padded roll or, because
you're at a festival, be made of flowers. Crystal, below, shows five
different way to wear a veil.
ways to wear a veil:
From left to right, top to bottom, Crystal
shows how it's done:
For those who don't like a whole lot of fabric, a short veil with a
band is the best way to go.
For those who wish to be a bit more festive,
you could add a circlet of flowers. If you have long hair, wear a hairnet
underneath to keep your hair tidy and prevent stray hairs. Keep all
your hair tucked up off your forehead. You want to be medieval-beautiful,
For those who like long, feminine veils,
an over the shoulder veil will protect you from the sun on your forehead
and chest. You can wear it over one shoulder or both. To stop it from
slipping, you can wear a fabric headband underneath to pin it to, or
wear a circlet over the top. On a cold day, a veil wrapped and tucked
around the neck is toasty warm and as good as a scarf.
The twisted-around-the-head look is quite
practical and easy to achieve. Using a long piece of fabric, put it
over your forehead and bring it to the back of your neck. Twist each
remaining part of the fabric and bring both ends up over the top of
your head. The ends tuck in to the other side. You might want to pin
them there for added security. It may look silly to you, but the public
will admire your authentic look!
For food vendors, a veil knotted at the
back keeps your hair out of the way and meets workplace health &
safety requirements. To make this work, pull the veil around the front
of your head and make two little "bunny ears" from the fabric
which you tie together. The rest of the material is secured by the knot.
Remember, we shouldn't see your fringe or bangs.