Susan and Ken Reed's Life Universe and Everything index page
Classification Definitions: Headdress Types

Headdress Types

These headdress-type definitions were written so that a person who was analyzing the headdresses in visual sources could place them either in one type or another. These classifications are completely artificial and meant to be mutually exclusive, to better conduct a statistical study. The classifications may have little to do with how people of the period would have named and defined the headdresses around them.

I will include more images for each category in the future. Some of the definitions included other areas of study such as “coverage of hair-growing area” and “brim types.” These, too, will be covered in future uploads.

Clicking on the headdress name will take you back to the “Headdress Classification” page.


A close-fitting cap that conforms to the shape of the head and covers most of the head excluding the face, but usually covering the ears.



A loose-fitting covering of the head and shoulders with a face- and sometimes neck-opening. The hood has a face opening, a shoulder cape (and opening) and sometimes a tail (also called a liripipe or tippet).



A variation of the hood. In its earliest variation, the hood is worn with the face opening around the top of the head, the tippet often wound around the head, and the shoulder cape, also called a cockscomb, hanging from the top of the head. In later forms, the head opening is formalized into a brimmed or padded or twisted roll opening, and the tippet allowed to hang down. The roll or brim may be of a different color or material than the shoulder cape or tippet.


Sack Hats

A sack hat is similar to the chaperone, but the tippet was eliminated and the shoulder cape was converted into a sack-shaped crown.


Rondelle/Padded Roll/Chaplet

A stuffed ring or roll of cloth or chaplet of flowers or of metal imitating flowers or other plants. These sometimes have a small headband around the head opening.


cloth roll


floral or plant, or metallic floral or plant wreath, including laurel wreaths.


A net or cloth cap consisting of fabric gathered into a band to confine the hair and fit the head opening closely. One extant hat of this type has a rectangle of fabric gathered tightly into radiating pleats at either end and sewn to a band. This matches similar caps seen in visual sources of the time. Cauls are often worn under other types of headdress. Cauls consist of: net gathered into band (which may or may not be seen), cloth gathered along circumference of band (similar to a shower cap), or cloth gathered at front and back in radiating pleats.

Acorn Hat

A light hat that either fits the head closely, but does not cover the amount of head that the coif covers (the acorn hat rarely covers the ears). If the coif covers 75% to 100% of the hair-growing area the acorn hat covers 40% to 60% of the area. The hat could be stiffened or soft. The crown is either pleated or smooth. At no point is the crown of the acorn hat wider in profile than at the head opening (see drawing of silhouettes of acorn hats). For the purposed of this project, a hat of acorn design is so designated if the height/face ratio is 1.5 or less. The acorn hat is short and close to the head; taller versions in both crown types are here designated as sugarloaf hats. Brims on an acorn hat are turned up or down, but do not project approximately perpendicular to the head, even to eventually curve upward or downward. Brims on this type of hat are never taller than the crown.


Sugarloaf Hat

A light hat of similar design as the acorn hat but is much taller. The hat could be stiffened or soft. The crown is either pleated or smooth. At no point is the crown of the acorn hat wider in profile than at the head opening (see drawing of silhouettes of sugarloaf hats). For the purposed of this project, a hat of sugarloaf design is so designated if the height/face ration is higher than 1.5. Brims on a sugarloaf hat are turned up or down, but do not project approximately perpendicular to the head, even to eventually curve upward or downward.



A square-crowned hat, covering the head similarly to the acorn hat, but usually broader than tall. It if often constructed of four roughly truncated lozenge-shaped pieces of blocked out of felt. Some bonnets are knitted. Some bonnets have a pronounced ridge or two ridges running perpendicularly on the crown. Accept as bonnets all hats that have pronounced ridges whether the crowns are square or rounded. The crown generally widens from the head opening towards the top of the crown. The silhouette is usually pentagonal, but sometimes may be trapezoidal with a narrow base and broader top. Usually brimmed, but the brim may be continuous or partial, tall or short relative to the crown height. Brim heights may vary from very narrow to so high that the crown cannot be seen.


Flat Hat

a usually brimmed hat with a soft crown constructed as a circle pleated into a brim or knitted to shape. When the crown is made to lie flat on the brim, it looks like a pancake on a plate and has a roughly triangular silhouette. The brims project perpendicularly from the head opening, but a particular section of the brim may be folded up or down.


Stiffened Hats

Hats of blocked felt, stiffened or supported fabrics, or straw or other plant fibers usually having brims; not classifiable as an acorn hat, sugarloaf hat, or bonnet; and often worn over other types of headdress. Stiffened crowns look as if they are perfectly smooth (or nearly so) without folds or pleats and able to support and retain their own shape. The exception is hats that can be classified as Acorn, Sugarloaf, or Bonnet according to their brim type. A brim is optional for stiffened hats, but usual. If the hat has a brim, it must project from the head opening at about a 90% angle (otherwise, it fits into one of the other categories) even if it curves up or downward towards the end of the brim.

For round or cone-crowned hats, if the brim projects perpendicularly to the head at the head opening, even if it eventually curves upward or downward, it is classified as a Stiffened hat, not as an Acorn or Sugarloaf hat. Also included are Robin Hood type hats that have round or cone-shaped crowns and brims that turn up at the back but taper into a projecting brim in the front.


Draped Headdress

a piece of fabric wrapped around the head in the style of Moorish headdress.

Stocking Cap

a soft cone or truncated cone shaped caps covering the top 1/2 to 2/3 of hair-growing area. The top of the crown is sometimes gathered at the top and there is often a tassel on top, as well. Include Phrygian -type hats (soft, cone-shaped caps with folded crown).


Headdress used for religious or secular ceremonies such as masses, coronations, addresses to parliaments, headdress used to denote social rank, or headdress used to denote stock figures such as fools, angels, allegorical characters, Magi, Moors, Jews, or Asian, African, or other exotic peoples (from the perspective of the person of these two centuries).

Ecclesiastical Headdress

Ceremonial headdress used in ritual; not headdress worn doing other daily activities. This includes miters and papal tiaras.


Metallic rings, plain or decorated, hinged or solid, that show noble rank. Metallic chaplets are not included in this category.


Headdresses can include cone-shaped, truncated-cone-shaped, or cornucopia-shaped crowns with twisted roll brims. For these there may be more than one roll. Included are fools caps and headdress worn by obviously non-European men.


Metal or Mail Helmets and Coifs.