Tutorial: A 14th Century hair and veil style

A popular fourteenth-century veil style is to have a pair of plaits framing your face which are visible under your veil.

Follow our tutorial to recreate it.

Continue reading “Tutorial: A 14th Century hair and veil style”

Tutorial: How to wear 14th Century veils and wimples

Garrison ladies use several types of head covering, including veils, wimples and caps. This blog post will focus on how to put on and wear these styles using step by step photographs.

For information relating to the history and evidence for ladies’ headcoverings, please see this blog post.

You will need:

 

Fillet: A fillet is a strip of cloth which is pinned around your head and under your hair, holding it back and offering something to secure your veils to. This also makes your hair less likely to fall forward when your veil is on. A fillet needs to be long enough to wrap around your head once, as shown below, plus leave around a 2 inch overlap. A basic fillet should be at least 2 inches wide and long enough to go around your head and pin at the back. Decorative fillets often show more variation due to their decorative elements; this version ties at the back. The basic fillet shown here measures 2.5 x 25 inches.

St Birgitta’s Cap: This is a ladies’ cap, somewhat similar to a man’s coif, designed to encapsulate all of your hair whilst providing a secure foundation to pin the rest of your veils to. The St Birgitta’s cap can be a very useful item of underpinning, especially if you need to cover modern hair colours, piercings, or tattoos. There is a very detailed description of how to make them in Medieval Clothing and Textiles 4 by Netherton and Owen-Crocker, and fellow medieval re-enactor Katafalk provides an easy-to-follow tutorial here.

Veil Pins: These can be made of various different materials including brass, steel, silver, or gold. They should be a minimum of 1.5 inches long and a maximum of 2.5 inches long to secure veils effectively. 3-4 of these are necessary for most headcovering styles.

Veil: Your veil should be wide enough to cover your hair from the top of your forehead to approximately to the top of your bra band, though this can vary depending on the amount of hair you have and your height; the important thing is to ensure that all of your hair is covered. The basic veil shown here measures 24 x 29.5 inches.

Wimple: Your wimple should be long enough to go from the crown of your head, under your chin, and return to the crown of your head and cross over with approximately a 2 inch overlap. The basic wimple shown here measures 13 x 32 inches.

Underpinnings

Veil styles, from the simplistic to the complex, often benefit from having something underneath to secure them to. Here, we show two options commonly worn by Garrison ladies: the fillet and the St Birgitta’s Cap.

Fillet: The short strip shown in the underpinnings photograph.

To put on a fillet, wrap it around your head in front of your hair and cross the ends over at the back, leaving around a 2 inch overlap, and pin together.

St Birgitta’s Cap: The small cap shown in the underpinnings photograph. To put on a St Birgitta’s Cap, follow the directions below.

 

If you have long hair, you need to ensure that it is contained under more conservative veil styles. Loose hair under veils is not shown in period manuscripts and hair is almost exclusively shown as dressed even when uncovered. We in the Garrison strongly recommend placing it in some sort of bun or plait, or having a go at a medieval style.

Simple Veils

A simple veil is a younger woman’s style and is less conservative because it doesn’t cover the neck as a wimple does. When re-enacting, the style is advantageous because it is cooler, shows off your neck, and has the potential for authentic hairstyles including cornettes and ramshorns. It is less helpful in covering up inauthentic tattoos and piercings, however, and does not offer as much protection from the sun. This is how to put on a simple veil securely.

Wimple and Veil Combination

A wimple is a cloth which covers your neck and is usually worn in conjunction with a veil to cover your hair. It is a more conservative style because it covers up more, and is advantageous to re-enactors because it is very effective at covering up inauthentic hair colour, tattoos, or piercings, and offers a great deal of protection from the sun. It is also possible to use the combination in conjunction to authentic hairstyles such as ramshorns and cornettes. This is a guide to how to put on a wimple and veil securely.

Wrapped Veil Style

A wrapped veil style is a thoroughly versatile style because it is only made from one, long piece of cloth, and it is possible to vary how conservative you make it based on how far back you place it on your head. This style is advantageous because it provides a great deal of coverage using minimal cloth

Married Women’s and Widow’s Veil

A widow’s veil is a highly conservative style of veil which covers the jawline as well as the hair and neck.

High-class veils

Higher-class ladies could be less conservative in their veiling. They could also often afford more expensive and complex versions of the above styles.

Wrapped veil: This style is very similar to the wrapped style above, but there are some variations in pinning and the veil is made from a linen/silk mix cloth of a very loose weave. This allows some hair to be seen underneath it while still technically covering the hair. It is also set further back on the head, showing some hair at the front.

Frilled veil: This style is a variation on the simple veil style, though it is here worn with a wimple in addition to this. A longer frill may also be worn with a wrapped veil. Note: this style is also known as the goffered or nebule veil.

High-class simple veil: This veil is another variation on the simple veil, but is made from silk/linen mix fabric and is pinned much further back on the head, showing far more hair.

High class silk veil with decorative fillet:

This is the highest class headcovering style shown here because of the pearl decoration on the fillet and the silk of the veil.

Hoods and Hats

A variety of hoods and hats may be worn in addition to veils, but are always worn in conjunction with them as per these images:

Common Veiling Errors

There are certain common veiling errors which may be observed among re-enactors:

 

Thank you for reading, and we hope you found everything useful! This post is brought to you by Munchkin, who, as you can see, clearly helped. 

 

Guide: Historical Women’s headwear

Ladies in various styles of veil.
Medieval ladies in various styles of veil. Maciejowski Bible.

During the fourteenth century, adult ladies (and gentlemen) did not generally go around in public with their hair on display. Hair was considered private and not something to be displayed outside of the home, in the same way that Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women often cover their hair when out in public today. Fourteenth-century gentlemen would more commonly cover their hair with coifs, hats, or hoods, while ladies covered theirs with fabric veils and wimples.

This post will focus on the different headcoverings available to ladies of various classes during the fourteenth century, displaying some examples worn by our group members.

Why cover the hair?

Apart from the religious nature of veiling, covering the hair was often a highly practical measure in a culture where ladies’ hair was not usually cut short and so needed to be kept controlled so that a woman could carry out her daily tasks. Veiling could also help to keep hair more hygienic by preventing transmission of lice, and protect the hair from woodsmoke damage from the ubiquitous fires, as well as obvious protection from the sun.

Basic Headcoverings

Veils and wimples are some of the most common headcoverings worn by women in the fourteenth century. A veil is a cloth pinned over the top of a lady’s head and covering her hair, but leaving the neck uncovered. A wimple is another, similar cloth that can be worn in addition to this, and covers the neck. These would often be supported by fillets:small strips of fabric to attach veils to.

 

 

These are fairly basic headcoverings and would have been worn in various styles by ladies of all classes in the fourteenth century. Wearing a veil without a wimple was a less conservative style and more commonly found in young unmarried ladies or perhaps young and recently married ladies. Adding a wimple was a more conservative style and seen on older, married ladies. It was a must for widowed women, who would often wear it even higher than in the photo, completely covering their chin.

Higher Class Veils

As a general rule, the higher class a lady was, the less conservative her veiling could be. This often included very lightweight veils through which hair could be seen, more expensive veil fabrics such as silk, or elaborately decorated fillets or snoods to contain the hair. While it was more permissible for higher-class women to show some hair, this hair would never be loose, but would always be styled (dressed) underneath, or perhaps contained within decorative fillets or snoods.

 

 

Hoods

Hoods were an outer-layer garment worn by both men and women, though there are some differences between men and women’s hood styles. Women wore their hoods for both warmth and to protect their veils, as veils could be damaged if they became wet. Hoods were always worn by women in addition to veils.

A lady wearing a hood. Note that her veils are visible underneath.
A lady wearing a hood. Note that her veils are visible underneath. Luttrell Psalter.

 

 

Note: While we have attempted to find images as date and regional appropriate as possible, it was necessary to make some concessions due to the lack of available public domain images, therefore some of these images as from as early as 1250 and as late as 1410, however, in all cases, the styles of veils they depict are well represented in late fourteenth century British manuscripts.