An early seventeenth century embroidered nightcap/negligé cap An early seventeenth century embroidered nightcap/negligé cap Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 64.101.1241; gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964.

In the seventeenth century and later, there were various forms of informal indoor caps for men, which were popular among wealthier, urban groups in West Europe. One type that was popular in the seventeenth century was the so-called nightcap, and despite its name it was actually worn during the daytime.

Nightcaps performed two functions. They were fashionable indoor wear and they were effective against the cold. They were usually dome shaped with a tightly fitting brim. Over the decades, the brim became larger and loose fitting. This type of cap is sometimes called a ‘negligé cap’ in North America. A popular shape in North America was made from wedge-shaped quarters with a turned-brim. This form could also be found in Britain.

An example of a British nightcap/negligé cap is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (USA). It dates to the first quarter of the seventeenth century. The cap is 20.3 x 19.7 cm in size and has a tall crown made up of four quarters and a tightly fitting brim, decorated with gold thread lace. The cap is made from silk, lined with linen. It is embellished using silk and metal threads using chain stitch, darning stitch, detached buttonhole stitchstem stitch, as well as various forms of plaited stitches. Both the crown and cap are decorated with stylised plants (eglantines [sweet briar], ‘Tudor’ roses and thistles), as well as birds, butterflies and caterpillars.

See also: embroidered undress caps; embroidered nightcap of Phineas Pett (1570-1647); Henry FitzRoy, by Lucas Horenboutsmoking caps

Digital sources:


Last modified on Saturday, 28 January 2017 10:46