Medieval Hats

Medieval Hats Unraveled: From Practicality to Prestige

The medieval period was characterised by a diverse range of hats and head coverings that were widely worn and held symbolic significance. These medieval hats were not only fashion accessories but also represented a person’s status and respectability in society.

Both men and women adorned themselves with hats and head coverings to convey their social standing and adherence to societal norms. The choice of headwear reflected various factors such as occupation, marital status, and religious affiliations. Some popular head coverings during this era included the coif, wimple, hood, and chaperone for women, while men commonly wore caps, hats, and hoods of different styles.

Medieval Hats History

In the early centuries, medieval hats were relatively simple, and their primary function was to protect the head. They were often made of basic materials such as straw or felt and lacked intricate designs. However, as trade routes expanded and wealth accumulated during the middle medieval period, hats began to take on a new role as symbols of social status.

With the emergence of a more stratified society, hats became an essential accessory for displaying one’s rank and wealth. Elaborate designs, rich fabrics, and intricate embellishments became characteristic of hats worn by the upper classes. 

Medieval Hats
Medieval Hats by Shakko is licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0

Types of Medieval Hats 

Medieval hats encompassed diverse styles, evolving into increasingly intricate designs during the middle and late medieval eras. 

Among the populace, broad-brimmed floppy hats found favour among both peasants and nobles, offering respite from the sun’s rays and a touch of cooling relief. However, the medieval hat repertoire extended beyond this ubiquitous style.

Leather cavalier hats were popular, exuding a rugged charm and evoking a sense of adventure. 

Muffin hats, with their rounded shape and snug fit, were a favoured option among women, adding a touch of femininity to their attire. 

Capitano hats, characterised by their extravagant plumes and brims, were often donned by military leaders, conveying authority and prestige.

Nobles and affluent merchants would commission skilled tailors to create custom hats tailored to their tastes and social status. In contrast, commoners would often opt for ready-made hats or fashion them at home using various materials such as wool, silk, linen, leather, and cotton.

Medieval Hats for Men

During the early medieval era, hats and hoods were common among men. 

In the late medieval period, small hats with round crowns and turn-down brims gained popularity among men. These hats were often made from fine materials and featured subtle embellishments. They were not only functional but also added a sense of refinement to one’s appearance.

As fashion evolved, hats with turned-up side brims and stylish bands adorned with buckles became increasingly favoured by men. These accessories further enhanced their outfits and showcased their individuality. The bands with buckles added a touch of sophistication to the hats, making them stand out in a crowd.

Overall, medieval hats for men evolved from simple hoods to more intricate designs, reflecting the changing fashion trends of the time. These head coverings served as both practical and fashionable accessories, allowing men to express their style in the medieval period.

Medieval Hats for Women

In medieval times, women wore various hats, each unique in style and purpose. The straw hat reigned supreme among the lower classes, offering a simple yet practical option. Its rustic charm resonated with the women, protecting them from the elements while maintaining a modest appearance.

Meanwhile, Hennin emerged as a favoured fashion statement among the elite. Resembling a Turkish fez, this distinctive hat elevated women’s status and exuded an air of sophistication. Its tall, conical shape commanded attention, becoming a symbol of high fashion in medieval Europe.

For noblewomen, the options were even more diverse. Different occasions call for other hats, and the aristocracy embraced this opportunity for sartorial expression. Caps with round crowns and upstanding brims were favoured by the noble ladies, adding an element of regality to their ensembles. With intricate decorations and luxurious materials, these hats showcased their social standing and wealth.

Medieval hats for women embodied both functionality and style. From the humble straw hat to the elegant Hennin and noble caps, they reflected the diverse social strata of the time while also serving as an expression of individuality and fashion prowess.

Other Medieval Headwear

The Wimple

The wimple, a favoured headwear among medieval women, was significant in their fashion repertoire. Crafted from linen, this head covering boasted a simple yet elegant design. While women from various social strata donned the wimple, it was particularly adored by wealthy noblewomen, whose servants often aided in arranging their head coverings. Comprising of two linen strips, wimples provided versatility in styling options, allowing women to experiment with different arrangements. 

The Coif

Coifs, the quintessential medieval headwear, enjoyed widespread popularity during the middle and late medieval eras. Crafted from linen, which was derived from the flax seed plant, these head coverings offered both style and practicality. Coifs were commonly worn underneath hats, serving as an additional layer of protection and comfort for the head. They could be conveniently fastened under the chin, ensuring a secure fit.

Beyond their practical purpose, coifs also found their place in fashion. Their elegant design and versatility made them a favoured choice among men and women of medieval times. Interestingly, coifs were not restricted to outdoor use; they were even worn in bed to provide extra warmth during chilly nights. 


The medieval period witnessed a remarkable transformation in hats and head coverings. From simple head protection to symbols of social status, medieval hats held great significance. They reflected the evolving fashion trends, social hierarchy, and cultural norms of the time. Both men and women embraced various hats, each unique in style and purpose. Whether it was the rustic charm of straw hats or the towering elegance of Hennin, medieval hats allowed individuals to express their status, individuality, and fashion prowess. 

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