Smoking Caps

Smoking Cap

Indoor hats for men were first worn in the 16th century. By Victoria's reign a softer style of casual cap was introduced only much more decorative 'The Smoking Cap' usually worn with a matching short velvet or silk jacket. These garments were often decorated with lavish embroidery and silk tassels. It seems soldiers of the Crimean war brought Turkish cigarettes & cigars home along with the smoking caps, which was a mixture of a pill box hat and a Turkish fez, decorated with Turkish and Russian braids & silks. These caps were worn mainly by the officers to stop their hair smelling of smoke whilst they drank brandy and smoked their Turkish cigars in the officer's mess. Whilst husbands and sweethearts were away fighting wars, the women folk passed some of their leisure hours stitching and embroidering these caps, giving the men a chance to brag about which hat from home was the best. Crocheted caps were also very acceptable, usually with bright coloured designs to finish them.

After the Crimean war when the gentry changed their dress several times each day to suit the occasion, Smoking caps & jackets were derigueur after dinner wear, when the ladies left the room for their obligatory gathering, the men vanished to the smoking room to imbibe brandy and smoke cigars whilst discussing the current business affairs of the day. These ornate jackets and caps were worn mainly to keep the smell of thick smoke from their clothes and hair, which was a problem due to unventilated Victorian dwellings.

Smoking Cap

Nowadays, these very attractive caps are making a steady comeback. Not only for 'smoking' they make a very fashionable addition to the male wardrobe as casual wear, I have seen several worn jauntily as everyday hats. Women have even taken to them as trendy evening wear to compliment a trouser suit, or baggy Turkish style trousers: which brings us back to the beginning.

These days as 'smoking' is 'politically incorrect' perhaps they should be called just 'Leisure caps.' One other significant bonus to wearing these caps. They keep the heat in on cold winter days and nights; (Especially for the follically challenged among us)

Buy your handmade smoking caps here: Tim Roberts


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We also have some beautifully hand made fascinators over at Hope Cottage Crafts