Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Caps and Bonnets

As hair began getting larger and larger toward the end of the century head-wear had to evolve to keep up with the growing coiffures. Pinner caps, little circles of of white fabric and lace pinned to the top of the hair, became less common in England since they could barely be seen on the hair tower. Mob caps were actually known as bonnets in the Georgian period and consisted of a caul covering the hair and a ruffled brim. The Calash bonnet adapted the idea of the collapsible tops of carriages, it was even named after them. Caleche is the french word for "carriages." They were usually made out of black taffeta and ideal for protecting hair-dos from the sometimes unpleasant English weather. And thank goodness for that; imagine showing up to Lady Melbourne's (who had been depicted in a bonnet) with your up-do a down-do! When the weather was fair, so were the bonnets. Springy cotton bonnets were introduced toward the end of the century and reflected the vogue for the simple life. Of course these could be trimmed in a variety of ways so you didn't look too simple. Hats could be worn over the bonnets if the fashionista so chose.
  1. 1787
  2. Under hat, 1782
  3. Thérèse, 1780
  4. 1781
  5. 1778
  6. 1780


  1. That just can't be comfortable, with all that equipment on your head.

  2. Sadly, bonnets were probably the most comfortable of fashionable headgear. A scary thought!

  3. I like the 1781- it doesn't seem to ruin the 'big' hair too much. And, it's also kink of stylish;-)

  4. I like that one too! It could just be the winter gear Lavinia is sporting but it looks like a cozy bonnet!

  5. Well, I gotta say that, after close scrutinizing, I'm not all too keen on caps. I like the small confections a la Hogarth (not shown here) with or without the lappets, but in general I think they're a little frumpy. I like Lavinia's, though.

    One of my favorites is a hat that is almost a very early bonnet. The sitter is the second Mrs Lee Acton, Penelope, and it's a full length Romney. Interestingly, the first Mrs Lee Acton is wearing one of the very few caps I like. Mr Lee Acton picked a couple of stylin' wives.

  6. Fascinating site! I wonder if you can tell me more about the 6th bonnet picture (bottom right), like who painted it etc? We have a somewhat similar picture, which we could post to you if you are interested.

  7. Of course! It's a Zoffany in the Finnish National Gallery, Sophia Demergue. I am curious now about the one you are referring to

  8. Many thanks for the info about Zoffany. I have emailed you the picture, which we bought at an auction because we found it so appealing. Maybe it is an imitator of Zoffany?