The Opinionated Wench  

Food & Drink
Movies & TV
About Me

A Silk Veil

Veils were among the many types of headdresses worn by ladies in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Veils listed in the inventory of Queen Elizabeth's garments were made of network, lawn, or tiffany, a type of lightweight transparent white silk (Arnold, 156 and 374). The veil that I made is nearly floor-length, transparent white silk with a rolled hem, ruched at the top and attached to a metal headband with pearls and beads. The style of this veil is similar to one worn by Queen Elizabeth I in a portrait by an unknown artist dating to between 1570 and 1572, currently hanging in Anglesey Abbey, figure 12 in "Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd" (Arnold, 1988). In this portrait, the edges of the veil are trimmed with tufts of silk. However other portraits show veils with untufted edges, such as a portrait of Queen Elizabeth by an unknown artist painted about 1575, now hanging in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, figure 205 in "Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd".

I was unable to find very much information on the actual construction of veils during this period. Herbert Norris describes the large wired veils of a slightly later period (1580-1603) as having been constructed from a large square of fabric (Norris, 1938, 626). For this veil, I used a rectangular piece of fabric. I folded the top end over and gathered it, then attached it to a mundane beaded metal headband. Many veils during this period were made of heavily embellished fabrics. I bought a very plain fabric because I thought it would be easier to work with, but if I make another veil I may buy a fancier fabric.


Figure 12 Figure 205


Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, Janet Arnold. W. S. Maney & Son, Leeds, 1988.

Vecellio's Renaissance Costume Book: All 500 Woodcut Illustrations from the Famous Sixteenth-Century Compendium of World Costume by Cesare Vecellio. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1977. Illustrations reprinted from Habiti antichi, et moderni di tutto il Mondo, Cesare Vecellio. Giovanni Bernardo Sessa, Venice, 1598.

Tudor Costume and Fashion. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1997. Republication of Costume and Fation, Volume Three: The Tudors, Books 1 and 2, Herbert Norris. J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., London, 1938.

Send your opinions to:

Looking for the SCA?