AMA Question #1

Space_wolf asked:

How do you keep your veil (particularly the outfit you wore when stepping down as Gold Falcon Principle Herald – in place, or do you just accept that over time it might shift / slip?

Also, before I start answering this question – go to her blog (which I’ve linked above)! She’s got some awesome tutorials that she’s done for her LARP group. They’re very cool!

So, in short, things do shift. Gravity is more than just a force of nature. Physics does exist. That all said, things that can be done to mitigate veil shifts.  I confess my hair is the sort that’s pretty slippery.  It doesn’t stay in braids long, and all attempts to keep it slicked back in something other than a ponytail usually doesn’t last long.  Welcome to the struggle that is my life.

And, the thing is, in most places and classes in pre-1600s Europe, hair for most noblewomen remained covered.  (Noted exceptions: royal women [read, queens and princesses] could generally do whatever they wanted with their hair.  Who’s going to tell the person who has the power of life or death what they can and can’t do with their hair?)  However, as much of European custom varies from location to location and time to time, please research the area you’re most interested in.  Take a look at art from the time period to get an idea!  Keep in mind that Europe, and especially Northern Europe was cold!  Covering one’s head kept warmth in!

Also, cover your head, especially if you’re outdoors.  Sunburned scalps suck.

First, the non-period answer, and what I did when I was still new (and until I figured out how to pin things!) to the SCA.  I bobby-pinned the ever-loving crud out of my veils.  You can see it in a lot of my portraits.  It’s just not period (nor particularly pretty) but it is serviceable.  For events where you might be outside and don’t want to lose pins or your veils (and you don’t care about making the period choices), this may be a good option.

100_6802.JPGSecond, the period answer: pins.  Many hairstyles in pre-1600s Europe use coifs, braids, wimples, and various other items to help veils stay in place.  Speaking from personal experience: this is not always foolproof because physics is a thing.  Wind happens.  You may have an incident with a doorknob catching a veil (welcome again to my life).  Things happen.  This, though, works out pretty well.  A bit on pins – there’s not a lot of changes between what has been found and what currently exists.  For more on Roman glass-headed pins, you can check out my entry here.

Back to pins in hair.  Much of this is based on what I do for Byzantine, which is going to be different than most of Europe.

Step one: put on a turban.  This works for a large portion of Byzantine representation, and really helps create the silhouette of the head (which, as discussed here, is oddly bulbous).

Step two: find a lightweight scarf.  I usually use pashminas.  They’re plentiful, relatively inexpensive, and can be used to fantastic effect in this manner, plus they bear resemblance to other headcoverings used in contemporary Byzantine art.

Step 3: pin the scarf to the turban.  You can see the effect here.  (Pardon the silly face.  I was talking in the photo, but you can see how it works.)  In the photo above, you can see the variety of pins that I own and use.  Some are handmade from scratch, others were gifts.  Some are even commercially made glass-headed dressmaker’s pins.  Use what your budget will allow.  I promise these will work, provide you get long enough pins.  When I pin my veil to my turban, I will put one pin in on the crown of my head (it should be in line with your shoulders), and then the next one parallel to that one a few millimeters away.  This, so far has worked for me, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

Step 4: Either tuck in the ends into your belt or over your shoulders (or both).  This helps keep the scarf out of the way, and helps support the scarf itself.

But, Konstantia, it’s too hot for a turban!  What should I do then?

Braid your hair in a milkmaid braid.  Put a veil on your head.  Pin it to your braids, leaving room for the veil/scarf/pashmina to have room to fold over a little bit to hide the pins that are still parallel with your shoulders.  You can see that effect here.  (Again with the catching me talking, resulting in silly faces.)

Again, this isn’t foolproof, and things will shift, but you lessen the chance to adjust.  Same with using wimples and the like for 1200s onward.

Hope this helps!

If you are interested in having your question answered, please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me on my Contact page!

5 thoughts on “AMA Question #1

  1. Thank you! I’ve been avoiding pins as I’m terrified of scratching people when in combat or damaging our latex weapons due to accidental blows to the head. I’ve worn a wimple and veil secured to a cap with tiny golden safety pins (carefully hidden) but I was interested to see how it should be done.


      • My current non-period solution involves wearing a stretchy white snood, overlaying it with my veil, safety pinning the veil via the inside of the stretchy snood (so that I’m the only one who’ll get scratched), draping and pinning the long edges of the veil across my body to a shoulder, then wedging my helmet on top. That way no one is getting close to the safety pins.

        I’ll have to try the bobby pins though.


  2. I made a long fake braid and pinned it to my hair. It works as well as turban for supporting the long veil. The braid is permanently sewn in a coil shape and decorated with a narrow tape. Very easy to put on with a few pins.


    • It works, however, I’ve seen very little representational evidence in art for this. (I did have milkmaid braids for a very long time (and I’ll occasionally wear my hair like that if it’s much too warm for a turban, but I have yet to find art that isn’t Procession of the Martyrs where hair is completely uncovered save for a veil. If you have references, I’d love to see them.)


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