Medieval Celtic men and women generally followed fashions popular on the European Continent, including hairstyles. Hair ranged in length, with more commoners than wealthy people opting for chin-to-shoulder length styles for practicality purposes. Nobility wore long, flowing hair and elaborate hats. Those of modest means wore their hair shorter or kept it out of the way with braids, cauls or simple head-coverings while they worked on farms or in their homes.
Medieval women of nobility visited hairdressers to have their hair braided, sometimes elaborately. Styles included braids of three strands, with one of the strands being a decorative ribbon or gold thread at times, and braids of four strands, with similar ribbon and thread additions. Hairdressers also created twist and cross braids. Stylists created a bundled, braided style by fashioning two braids on either side of the face and then wrapping them into buns and pinning them into place. Women also wore their hair in two loose braids that softly framed the face or flowed down the back.
The majority of medieval Celts were pastoral farmers, raising cattle and sheep. Hair cut to chin length made practical sense because women and men worked long hours in the fields. Nursemaids performed the bulk of child-rearing responsibilities for noble women. Servants cooked, cleaned and performed other household duties. Women not born or married into wealth cared for their own families and homes, working as well.
Long and Loose
Medieval men and women of nobility wore their hair long, sometimes with curls cascading downward. Long hair became something of a status symbol and was at times used as a form of rebellion, particularly when kings and religious leaders disapproved of long hair as some have off and on through the ages. Men wore beards in a variety of styles, shaped as fantails, stilettos, spades and even corkscrews. Shaving or cutting someone's hair publicly was a form of shaming. Women decorated their hair in a variety of ways, wearing headbands and/or weaving ribbons and gold threads into their hair.
Medieval head covers were multipurpose. They served to conceal hair if required by religious leaders, to help people stay warm, to keep hair out of the way and as adornment. Women wore cauls, or nets, to contain hair, as accessories and with hats. Women of means gathered their hair in caul-bound bunches at the temples or ears and draped veils over the arrangement. Cone hats were popular. Long hair could be tucked underneath them. Some were dazzlingly decorated. Men wore a variety of styles, including straw and felt hats.
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