The Tudor period in England is sometimes knows as the Peacock Age due to the ornate fashions worn by the wealthy during the time. While poor men wore woollen flat caps and poor women stuck to simple bonnets, hats for the wealthy were seen as symbols of status. Important men sought to wear taller hats than those of a lesser social status. Headwear was an essential part of any Tudor outfit for both men and women.
Hats and women
Tudor fashion and social etiquette dictated that the head and hair of women should be covered by a hat, cap, veil, coif or caul. Poor women could only afford simple cotton bonnets, but hats for the rich were highly ornate and very expensive. They were often adorned with feathers, pearls, jewels, gold, embroidery and lace.
Hoods and veils
Tudor women wore a variety of hoods and veils. The French hood was introduced to society by Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. It was a crescent- or half-moon-shaped band and veil which sloped away from the face. The band was often decorated with jewels and embroidery. The atifet was similar but featured a dip in the top to create a heart shape around the face. Mary Queen of Scots favoured a simple white design with lace added to decorate the design. Finally, the caul was worn similarly to a hair net. It was made from fabric or cord and often adorned with jewels.
Rigid hats for women
Many women also wore stiffer, pillbox style hats. These tall hats were often decorated with feathers and many featured an ornate veil hanging from the rear. Simple linen bonnets were worn underneath the hat to keep the hair in place.
Most Tudor men wore caps, although some taller, stiffer hats were worn by the very wealthy. All classes of men wore large, loose-fitting caps decorated with feathers. Many featured an upturned brim decorated with jewels, embroidery or an insignia relating to the wearer's social status. Some caps were pointed at the sides and the size of the brim fluctuated through the period in keeping with fashion.