Late 15th Century Women’s Coifs

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The Medieval Tailor's Assistant: Making Common Garments 1200-1500 Reconstructing History 15th Century Women's Accessories Pattern

This page demonstrates a style of women’s headwear which appears to feature a set of long ties (or “tails”) which extend from the back of the neck to the top of the head; the tails are usually tied at the top of the head. This coif, presumably made from white linen, appears more often on working women (including peasant women and shepherdesses), and occasionally on women in bed, as a sort of nightcap. The coif seems to be most common in the last quarter of the 15th century, but does appear in early 16th century illustrations as well.

I do not believe that these are all the exact same sort of cap. There seems to be different styles involved, and different manners of construction. The commonality is the general overall shape, and the ties that go on top of the head.

Different people use different names for this sort of headwear. Sarah Thursfield (The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant) calls it a “tailed cap”; Kass McGann (Reconstructing History Patterns) refers to a similar cap as a “proto-coif.” Historic Enterprises’ version is called a “winged coif.”

For some modern costumers’ re-creations of this cap, see Edyth Miller, Hémiole, Oda Wlslagre dicta Widoeghe, Matilda la Zouche, Sevenstarwheel, Sylvie la chardonniere, or Ysabel la Broderesse.