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January 26, 2010

Fashion du jour! Mob Cap

The mob cap came en vogue in the 18th century.  The style was popular for decades due to its simplicity.  I love this first image, The Coquette at her Toilet. It is a scene of a modiste showing off her latest mob cap, in hopes of a sale at a young woman's toilet.

It was typically made of a white gauze or a light muslin fabric, and the edges would curve around the face.  Often gathered, with a puffy crown, the edges would be left as ruffles or frill.

 The tyre or tire was the string or band used to fasten the cap.  This term may have come from the Greek tiara or french tirant (purse/boot string).  The sides of the cap were left to fall down along the side of the face, and it could be tied under the chin.  Another option was to put a straw hat on top of the cap, which could be decorated with feathers, flowers etc.

The overall effect of the cap, especially if it were very ruffled, was a soft look about the face.  The sides were usually left down and covered much of  the face.  Believe it or not, these masking qualities left it quite desirable with women who were "conservative or plain."  This appeal of the cap kept it popular for many years.


In 1762, a mob cap which "crossed under the chin, fastened behind with ends hanging down," took off among the women in the Ranelagh Gardens.  So many women would flock to walk through the gardens in this style that it was promptly declared the Ranelagh Cap. Even the middle class, if they could not afford caps, would fashion the style from handkerchiefs. 

What did the men think? Some found the mob cap "more plain than becoming."  This view of the cap was wide-spread and as late as the 1820's American women were noted for shunning the fashion.

The mob cap could easily be decorated with colored ribbons and flowers.  Antoinette also sported the style, as seen in her portrait by Vigee Le Brun.  What do you think of the mob cap?

Would you wear one?

18 comments

  1. I wonder how easily it flew off ones head. Loved the post.

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  2. Hat pins, hat pins! That and ribbon must have been the only way to keep them on tight! I am sure even the "under the chin ribbon" failed on many a windy day! :o)

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  3. I have never thought mob caps very flattering. Give me millinery finery any day!

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  4. Fascinating information, thanks for sharing with your readers. I really love your blog, it's very well done, interesting and informative. I don't know if I would wear a mob cap or not, but if it were all the rage I just might! All the best to you, Corinne

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  5. I would wear one, if it was the right one. I'd rather have one that tied in the back, not under the chin. They are cute though!

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  6. Mob caps always make me think of elderly women, for some reason, which is absurd, because they would have been popular with the young at one time. In the days when I was a part of readers' theater, those playing elderly characters always wore mob caps--that's probably why. The younger characters always wore vivaciously curly wigs that resembled Irish dance wigs.

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  7. @laurel Ann I think they make good bed caps!

    @Corinne I have to agree, if they were in style I would probably own one, maybe pair it up with a hat for cooler summer days at the races.

    @Mary Yes fastening it under the chin would annoy me. Mine would just stay atop my full pouf maybe with a hat pin or two!

    @Arabella A lot of elder ladies did wear them! For their modest qualities- so your theater was right on! Of course some bright ribbon could give it a more youthful edge... /considers making a mob cap

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  8. They make one look like an old lady no matter how young you are!

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  9. I think, like all hats, it rather depends on the shape of your face. The ones that are quite ruffly round the face look adorable on me, and I have several, but at the same time I know lots of women who look just terrible in them.

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  10. Love them. Altough some models give the appearance of a giant flower munching away one's head :-)

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  11. I think they can be cute on occasion, but overall I find them just ugly. They seem to make even the liveliest coquette seem like Granny from the Riding Hood fable.

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  12. I think Charlotte Corday made the mob caps popular for younger women,as she appeared wearing one to her execution( and looking quite pretty, from the pictures i've seen), but this might just be an urban legend. i think they're charming and cute, if worn correctly. do you know how to sew one?

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  13. For anybody interested in acquiring a mob cap, take a look at www.headcoverings.com and www.prayercoverings.com . Both have caps for sale; the former markets their cap as a 'mob cap' 'Headcoverings' also sell a variety of coverings perfect for all ages and occasions.

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  14. i'd much rather wear it than an english gabled hood from tudor times... *barf*

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  15. What an interesting and inspiring site.

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