Straw Hats

Straw hats, while an effective method of shielding one’s skin from the sun, sometimes have the reputation (at least within the SCA) of being a non-period form of headwear.

But, when one looks closely at period illustrations, one can see that straw hats appear in western Europe during the SCA's period, though many are shaped differently than the styles of straw hats commonly available for sale.

Straw hats in the Middle Ages and Renaissance seem to have been worn primarily by workers laboring outdoors, but straw hats were also worn by people enjoying other outdoor pastimes. Straw may have also been the material for some of the more stylish hats of the 15th century.


Straw hats seem to have become more fashionable – decorated, reshaped, and in some cases, tinted – in the early 17th century; examples can be found in Rubens’ Isabella Brant (1609), The Straw Hat (1625), and Helena Fourment; also, Zurbar´n’s depiction of St. Margaret as a shepherdess (c. 1631) and Jacob Jordaens’ portrait of his daughter Elizabeth (1640).

Elsewhere on this site, you can find eighteenth-century straw hats.