Seventeenth-Century Headwear

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Seventeenth-Century Headwear

A well-groomed head was important for both men and women during the seventeenth century. At the beginning of the century fashionable men wore their natural hair quite long with lovelocks, or extra long strands of hair, dangling over their left shoulder. In addition, their faces were tufted with mustaches and beards. Kept neat with wax, men's mustaches and beards ranged from full and thick to pencil-thin lines. But when the hair of the French king Louis XIV (16381715) began to fall out in the late 1600s, the king and, subsequently, more and more men began to wear thick, flowing wigs. As the volume of hair on their heads increased, men wore smaller and smaller beards and mustaches, until most were clean-shaven by the end of the century.

At the beginning of the century men wore fancy versions of the copotain hats of the previous century, with high crowns and wide brims, often stuck with large plumes, or feathers. However, the preferred hat by the end of the century was a simple, low-crowned tricorne hat. Rather than elaborate decoration, the angle at which the tricorne sat on a man's head became a fashionable art.

The styles for women's hair changed less dramatically over the course of the century. Curled or frizzed, women's hair was worn swept up into high piles at the beginning of the century, fluffed at the sides during midcentury, and again, at the end of the century, worn quite tall, in towering fontange hairstyles. Jewels, lace, linen, and ribbons, as well as occasional masculine-style hats, added to women's hairstyles.

Worn dark brown or black throughout most of the century, the hair of both men and women was heavily powdered by the end of the century, a trend that, with wigs, would dominate the next century.


Batterberry, Michael, and Ariane Batterberry. Fashion: The Mirror of History. New York: Greenwich House, 1977.

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Corson, Richard. Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years. London, England: Peter Owen, 2001.

Tricorne Hat