CROWNS AND CIRCLETS
HATS AND HENNINS
THE SHAPE OF HOODS - HOOD CLOSURES - FABRICS
hoods were an item of clothing worn by both upper and lower classes.
Primarily used for warmth out of doors, both women's and men's
hoods were essentially the same style and pattern, changing only
a little over the course of the middle ages.
shape of the hood
Early in the medieval period, hoods were purely functional with
little or no ornamentation. This changed towards the fourteenth
century when hoods became more of a fashion item.
The basic shape of the medieval hood
was little more than a square for the head attached to a semicircle
for the shoulder cowl. Variations on this basic shape gave the
hood its definition over the next few centuries. The square shape
of the head covering part of the hood became elongated at the
front and a small gore was cut into the lower portion which was
used for adding in as a gore over the shoulder to provide a rounded
hood became yet another way for the wealthy to further display
their status by adding unnecessary streamers called tippets
or liripipes from the back of the hood. These ranged from
the very modest for the poorer person who could not afford to
spend money on unnecessary expensive fabric, to the very long,
showy extensions of the wealthy. In
the earlier centuries, hoods were looser and larger, but into
the 14th and 15th centuries, women's hoods became smaller, had
shorter cowls and were tighter fitting around the face.
Women's hoods previous to the 14th century were usually stitched
together at the front, often with a long cowl like the traditional
shape of a monk's hood. It provided much-needed warmth from winter
chills, especially when traveling since most cloaks did not appear
to have a hood attached at that time.
With the rising merchant middle classes having more disposable
wealth available to them into the 14th and 15th centuries, women's
hoods were often buttoned with either handmade buttons of cloth
made to match the hood itself or round metal buttons spaced closely
hood recovered from a deposit in London, England, show a the buttonholes
closely spaced at the front and set right at the very edge of
Often hoods are depicted in manuscripts without buttons altogether
and worn draped about the head. Hoods
were generally constructed so that they might be folded back at
the face showing off the contrasting lining or pulled over the
face for traveling in bed weather. In fine weather, they would
be worn by women with the opening folded back as seen in the detail
from the 1412-1416 illumination from the Limbourgh Brothers famous
Duk du Berry's Livres de Heures for the month of February,
Hoods could be made from whatever material was available to the
wearer, although wool was worn by all classes. Its warmth and
resistance to water made it an ideal material for traveling or
in poor weather. As with all other aspects of clothing, the wool
used to make hoods for the lower classes differed in quality from
the fine wools used to made hoods for the upper classes.
Silk and silk velvet were both fabrics
which were unavailable to many and expensive for all. If one was
wealthy but could not afford the enormous cost of a silk garment,
one might be able to afford the much smaller amount of fabric
required for a silk or velvet hood. Consumers in the upper echelons
of society might choose a fine, bright-coloured silk outer lined
with wool for warmth.
As with most other items of medieval clothing, a hood was likely
to be lined for a more wealthy wearer than for a poorer one. If
a hood was lined at all, it was almost always lined in a contrasting
colour but also with fur for cold weather wear.