Widow’s Cap

Widow's Cap Queen Victoria

A Widow’s Cap or Mourning Cap is a woman’s head covering and a sign of mourning worn after the death of their husbands. A Widow’s Cap was a sign of religious and social significance and was worn through the first mourning period during the Victorian era in the 19th century.

A Victorian Widow’s Cap was black in colour or tone and dependant on the level of mourning. With more recent losses the design was simpler with complexity increasing with time. The age of the widow dictated the shape of the cap with the most common being peaked at the front.

Widow’s caps, were either lisse (silk gauze used for dresses and trimmings), tulle (a lightweight, very fine, stiff netting) or tarlatan (a sheer cotton fabric in open plain weave usually heavily sized for stiffness), shape depending mainly on the age. Young widows wore mainly the Mary Stuart shape, but all Widow’s Caps had long streamers.

Other names for a Widow’s Cap

Famous Widow’s Cap Wearers

  • Queen Victoria
  • Mary, Queen of Scots