Elizabeth Ist coat of arms

Elizabethan Hats for Women

Queen Elizabeth Ist

"Queen Elizabeth Ist"


Clothing and Fashion - Elizabethan Hats for Women

Elizabethan Hats were an essential part of clothing for women and played an important part in the fashion of the day.

Hats for Women
The Elizabethan fashion dictated that the head was adorned with a hat, veil, coif or caul.

This fashion therefore ensured that much of the hair was hidden by some form of head covering or hat. The style of the head covering dictated the hairstyle. Many of the hats were adorned with feathers, pearls, glass jewels, spangles, gold thread, embroidery and lace.

  • The Coif - The coif ( commonly referred to as the 'biggin' ) worn by all children. Material was plain white linen, a close fitting cap tied under the chin. Coifs were often worn as caps to keep hair in place under more elaborate hats
  • The French hood - Introduced from the French court by Anne Boleyn, the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. A half moon, or crescent, style band or brim sloping away from the face. The edges were often adorned with pearls or glass jewels, called bilaments, and a veil covered the back of the hair
  • The Atifet - Similar to the French hood style but with a heart shaped crescent - favoured in white by Mary Queen of Scots. Lace trimmnigs were added
  • The Caul - Cauls were the Elizabethan hair net. A Caul covered the hair at the back of the head and was made of fabric, or fabric covered by netted cord which was sometimes adorned with spangles.
  • The Pillbox style of hat - often had a veil attached to the back
Other styles of hats were as follows:

  • The Crispine - A cap made of net, similar to a caul
  • The Frontlet - Also called a cross-cloth or a binding-cloth. Sometimes worn with a coif. Worn when women were ill in bed after being soaked in herbs

Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan Hats for Women
During the Elizabethan era pamphlets were printed and distributed commenting on life in Elizabethan England. A writer of one such pamphlet was a well travelled Londoner called Philip Stubbes. Some interesting facts and confirmation of information about Elizabethan Hats for Women can be obtained from the words of Philip Stubbes. A first hand impression of the fashions of the Elizabethan era are invaluable - but the Elizabethan style of writing can be hard going. The following information has therefore been taken from the points he made on Hats for women:

  • The style of hats are referred to as a French hood, cappe, cawl and kercher
    • A kercher was a common term for a kerchief (from the French couvre-chef, "cover the head") and was a triangular or square piece of cloth tied around the head or around the neck for protective or decorative purposes
  • Lattice cappes - another term for a cawl or hairnet
  • The materials that hats were made of were velvet, taffeta and wool - Cloth of gold, cloth of silver or tinsell was also used for hats
    • Tinsell was a fabric was had a metallic sheen but was less expensive than gold or silver

  • His description of the hats with three horns / corners sound like the hats which were highly fashionable during an earlier Medieval period

English Laws
Sumptuary Laws dictated the styles of hats for Elizabethan English women. Between the years 1568 and 1574 ďall Citizens wives in generall were constrayned to weare white knit Caps of woolen yarne, unlesse their husbands were good value in the Queenes booke, or could prove themselves Gentlemen by descent.

Elizabethan Clothing
Elizabethan Era Index

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