Tudor Women’s Hair and their Headpieces

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.

Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England



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:

Bonnie’s Pattern Shop via Etsy

IEarly 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.
IVFrench hood, worn over a coif; English, c. 1525.
VLate Gable headdress; English, c. 1535.
VIFrench hood, worn over a coif; English, c. 1540.
VIIFrench hood, worn over a coif; English, c. 1540.
VIIIFrench 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.
XIVWired 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

Elizabeth Cornwallis, Lady Kytson



Elizabeth Knollys, Lady Leighton
Unknown woman

Various other hats worn without a description:

Nazareth Newton, Lady Paget
Anne Parr, Lady Herbert
Helena Snakenborg, Later Marchioness of Northampton
Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond
Mary Tudor, queen of France



(c) Leeds Museums and Galleries (book); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Lady Bennett
Mary Tudor
Lady Elizabeth Walshe
Dorothy, Lady Dormer/Denman by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, c. 1596

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.


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Clothing in 16th Century Tudor England

clothing-in-16th-century-tudor-england

When we think of the Tudor wardrobe we often look at it fondly wishing we could wear those beautiful dresses, when in all reality if worn today we’d look fantastic but we’d probably be annoyed with the amount of time it took to not only get dressed but also undressed when we consider the multiple layers. Not only that, the items we are about to describe were not made with comfort in mind.

Gowns

In the 16th century there was an unprecedented revolution in dress – first the introduction of sleeves, which would now be made of a different material and color than the gown itself. This would open up many options for sleeve changes with the same dress, offering a way to change your look without changing the dress. The sleeves themselves were varied in style. Some were full and puffy while others may have padded and quilted or slashed with a tighter fit. There was also the option of a more square-necked dress that was more of a short-waisted style which made the stomacher look more formal.

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Stomacher with Short-Waisted

Those who had the available budget could have their dresses made from cloth of gold or silver taffeta embroidered in gold. If you were able to go a step further you could have a damask of crimson or yellow embellished with gold – added to some fur trimming to finish the look.

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Shoes

The plainest type of shoe available was made of wood but covered in velvet or leather. They were stitched and fastened with buckles and broad-headed, ornamental screw or nail. There were also pantoffles and chopines. A pantoffle was like a slipper while a chopine was built with a high platform to protect the wearers feet and dress from the mud, animal entrails and fecal matter that was common in city streets at the time.

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“None of the fashions of the day could truthfully be called comfortable. Comfort obviously was banished from consideration, and each innovation during the sixteenth century shows its demands more and more disregarded.”

Headdresses

When we look at the wives of Henry VIII we see some of the most beautiful dresses of the early to mid-16th century. “Anne Boleyn is credited with wearing a cap of blue velvet trimmed with golden bells, and a vest of velvet starred with silver, and over it a surcoat of watered silk lined with miniver (plain white fur), with large pendent sleeves; blue velvet brodequins were on her feet (high boot reaching the calf or knee), with a diamond star on each instep, and above her long curls was placed an aureole of plaited gold.”

In the 16th century the length of a woman’s gown marked her rank. If you were a countess, baroness or a lady of a lower rank you would be ranked by the length of your train. The amount of embroidery on the dress and petticoat also denoted the status of the woman.

The variety of head pieces were many – there was the gable hood, the french hood and it’s said that Anne Boleyn introduced lappets made of velvet.

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This obviously isn’t everything when it comes to Tudor clothing in the 16th century, so stay tuned for a part 2 and possibly part 3! Oh, and by the way, this article was COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone – if I totally embarrassed myself with this piece please correct my mistakes. No, seriously, let me know – just try to be nice about it. 😉

Source/Reference:

COSTUME: FANCIFUL, HISTORICAL AND THEATRICAL, COMPILED BY Mrs. ARIA

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