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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