the Middle Ages, there were changes, which came about in the clothing of
both the men and the women.
The church frowned on the
form-revealing gown with open sides for women, and the emphasis became the
matronly look. Perhaps, the women holding up the long front of the gown by
the material on the stomach added to this look.
Some of these changes during
medieval times had to do with the availability of fabrics from other
lands, because of the Crusades. Items brought back which were new to the
northern Europeans included Damask from Damascus and gauze from Gaza.
Maybe it is because of the emphasis
on modesty that the dress doesn't change much at all, after becoming less
form fitting. Perhaps this is why women began to use the headdress to draw
attention to themselves. But, whatever the reason for the beginning of the
fashion, it soon developed into a display of status. The headdress
referred to as the hennin became popular. One could still cover at least
most of the hair, if she was careful to pluck the forehead first! Perhaps
there was some practical value, as the castles were very draughty, and one
could at least keep her ears warm! www.virtue.to/articles/images/1449_elegius.jpg
And of course the poorer people could not afford to wear something so
impractical! I can imagine one of the more outrageous versions catching on
the rafters of one's hovel!!
I was very grateful to find a site
by Cynthia Virtue with many portraits and pictures showing examples of the
types of headdresses worn.
Most of the extreme versions of
the hennin can be found from paintings of women in the 1400's. But, there
are some instances of a similar type of hat worn before that. Braun &
Schneider's drawings from c.1861-1880 show a pointy hat on a Norman
and a heart shaped headdress from
the 14th century
On her great website, Cynthia
Virtue has also researched the progression of the styles of the hennin.
Braun & Schneider's drawings
from c.1861-1880 also show some of these examples.
There are some very good
opportunities of looking at the hats and costumes of people in the 1400's
if you follow this link.