What hats were worn when, and how popular were they?

In preparation for a class on women’s headwear in France and the Low Countries that I am teaching at Rowany Festival I have started a count of the frequency of each hat type as represented in art. I thought I might share the preliminary results.



The chart above represents the number of artworks that show each hat type. I did not count the number of hats in each image

I made the count from anthologies of artwork that I have on my shelves, to reduce bias from a particular author. The first three books were:

I charted each hat type by year, and then grouped them into 5 year periods. This means I can revert back to individual years for future research, including delving into a particular style. I did not count any hennins, although they were well represented in the 1460s, 70s and 80s, as they are outside the scope of this website and I was interested in the growth of transition era style hats.

What does the chart tell us?

As a preliminary analysis I can make the following statements:

  1. That a formal black hood (eventually known as a French Hood) is the most common item throughout the period surveyed.
  2. That there is a spike in the wearing of frontlets (the only time I did count hennins was where a frontlet was worn over a hennin as I wanted to chart the rise and fall of this item) but they virtually disappear after 1485, which co-incides with the sharp rise as the (usually) black veil and cap combo appears on the scene.
  3. That the books I looked at focussed on the first half of the period this survey covered, and so I will need to get more sources to fill in the period after 1510.

Future of the Project

There’s still a couple of books on my shelves to go through, and I may also chart my Clothing of the Low Countries Pinterest Board, as that is likewise a varied sample. Consider this the hypothesis stage, based on a small data sample.

When I’m satisfied with the project I’ll give it a page on this site and update it every so often.


4 weeks to Rowany Festival

The biggest event of my SCA calendar, and of Lochac in general, is Rowany Festival held every Easter long weekend and hosted by my Barony. It starts Easter Thursday and goes through until Easter Tuesday. Not surprisingly it brings with it a lot of prep work and some hard deadlines.

So that’s been my focus for the last month – ensuring my partner and my kit is up to scratch, that my newly formed household is equipped to get through 6 days of camping together, and that the new people in my Barony have had a chance to be clothed. Hence the lack of posting (oh, and a new job. Feb/March has been busy!).

In the list of items that relate to the types of things I blog about on Clothing the Low Countries I have done the following:

  • Built a black cotton bonnet based on a pattern in the Queen’s Servants, mostly to test the pattern for a class I am running at Festival, as well as to be an item of headwear for my gold linen gown.
  • Helped my partner finished his first ever piece of garb – a doublet suitable for wear in the early 1500s. This was my (serendipitous, not planned) entry for HSF#4: Bodices as I mentored him through the making of it via a class I ran at Sydney University last year.
  • Mended stuff so it could be worn. The red kirtle needed a bar re-attached and placket opening mended. The gold gown needed it’s placket opening mended (detecting a theme here), my partner’s watchcoat needed its closures changed and the back waist seam mended.
  • Started work on the Heuke (hoik, huik, heuk) based on Durer’s pattern that I plan to enter in the Laurel Prize Tourney. And by “started work” I mean I put a 2 metre length of light black wool on my head to see what it did (promptly slid off my head), then gathered a bunch of it in front of my forehead and secured it with an elastic band to check the difference in drape and ability to stay on my head. It’s looking promising, so this weekend will be the time of cutting and hemming.

Left to do (in 4 weeks…):

  • 1-2 new smocks for me, and lengthening the arms on one of my existing smocks.
  • A pair of hose or shorts for my partner from the remainder of the brown wool used in the wrap  gown, length will depend on how much fabric I have left – I have the Tudor tailor pattern, so will be starting there.
  • Pattern and cut out knee length hose for me, probably as a hand stitching project during Festival (and then a late entry to HSF#6: Tops and Toes)
  • Finish my research paper on the Heuke.
  • Finish my class notes for the hats class I am running, and make sure I have the various items available for people to look at and play with. (come along if you’re at Festival)

Not insurmountable, but will take steady work and planning.

I’ll let you know how I go!