It’s easy to forget about the hair under those beautiful headdresses that the women of the Tudor period wore, so today we are going to look a little further into it and share with you what we found. This piece is a follow-up to our posts Clothing in 16th Century Tudor England and Men’s Clothing in 16th Century Tudor England.
Tudor women wore their hair long, but it was generally hidden under a headpiece of some type. Some of the rare occasions when it was acceptable for a woman to wear her hair down were on their wedding day, to show the bride’s virginity, and at the coronation of a queen or queen consort – see image Queen Elizabeth below. It was noted at the coronation of Anne Boleyn that her hair was so long that she could sit on it.
When wearing a headdress, the long hair was generally put in a bun or pinned up to fit within the piece and be hidden. The only part of a woman’s hair that would be seen was the front (bangs area) and sides. There were also times when they wore a gable hood that no hair was showing at all.
Here are some great example I found online of different styles of headdresses which are accompanied by an explanation and date of use – I have put in bold the ones used in England:
I – Early Gable headdress, worn over a coif; English, c. 1490.
II – Anne of Britanny hood, worn over a coif; French, c. 1500.
III – Early Beguin headdress; Flemish, c. 1500.
IV – French hood, worn over a coif; English, c. 1525.
V – Late Gable headdress; English, c. 1535.
VI – French hood, worn over a coif; English, c. 1540.
VII – French hood, worn over a coif; English, c. 1540.
VIII – French hood, worn over a coif; English, c. 1550.
IX – Stockingette cap; French, c. 1545.
X – Swallowtail headdress; Dutch, c. 1545.
XI – Late Beguine headdress; Flemish, c. 1560.
XII – Bongrace headdress; French, c. 1565.
XIII – Wired hood, worn over a coif; French, c. 1545.
XIV – Wired hood, worn over a coif; English c. 1545.
XV – Snood with self-band; Italian, c. 1550.
XVI – Snood with ribbon band; Italian, c. 1550.
XVII – Tucked-up hood, worn over a coif; French, c. 1500.
“Note – Almost all of these headdresses were worn in several countries and over varying periods of time. For those views worn over a coif, except views X and XII, the coifs can be deleted and faked by sewing the ribbon, eye, pleating and/or wire to the headdress instead of the coif.” – Bonnie Bowman
Here are some examples of a few of the above headdresses that were worn by the people we are familiar with:
Early Gable Headdress, c. 1490 – worn by Queen Elizabeth (of York)
Late Gable headdress, c. 1535 – worn by Queen Jane Seymour
French hood, worn over a coif, c. 1550 – worn by Queen Mary I
French hood, worn over a coif, c. 1540 – worn by Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee
French hood, worn over a coif, c. 1540 – worn by Queen Katherine Howard
French hood, worn over a coif, c. 1540 – worn by Queen Catherine Parr
Here are some examples of hats worn by Tudor women courtesy of VillageHatShop.com:
Hat of Black Silk or Velvet-pleated with Feather, c. 1590 – worn by Lady Kitson and Elizabeth Knollys
Various other hats worn without a description:
Women’s fashion in 16th century was ever-changing as we can see from the various headdresses and hats there were many styles to choose from and I’m sure the wealthier you were the greater the options.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this piece – I really want to cover all aspects of Tudor life, especially the life of the women.