The use of crespines in the 14th century, was a daring fashion because until then women's hair had been hidden from view beneath veils and wimples. With the appearance of the crespine the hair came into view. The crespine allowed for a number of different hair arrangements and its shape changed with fashion. Women could plait their hair and twist the plaits around the head, or roll them up into spiral 'earphones'. Alternatively they could gather the hair in a bun at the back of the head. The crespine was popular with women from all walks of life. Those worn by noblewomen were made of silk cord and studded with jewels or metal at the intersections of the mesh. Less wealthy women had crespines made of coarse thread.
Fashion in women and men's clothes developed rapidly in the 14th century. There was a change in the outline of the figure, and a greater distinction between male and female dress appeared. Settled political times and increasing trade with countries abroad meant that a great variety of expensive fabrics became available. Lavish decorations - large floral and geometric patterns, heraldic designs and jewelled embroidery - became popular.
King Richard II (1377-99) led the trend for extravagant outfits. Men of the time wore padded doublets, cod-pieces and close-fitting tunics, and there was a wide variety in types of hat. Women wore gowns that were close fitting to the waist and flared out from the hips. Sleeves were long and tight, necklines low and wide. The simple fitted dress served to set off the elaborate head-dresses and veils, which became increasingly fashionable and varied in the second half of the 14th century.
A head-dress like this would have been worn for special occasions and at formal dinners. In medieval times women stayed in the home, cooking, looking after children and doing housework. Wealthy ladies oversaw the work of their servants. During the day they would wear plain dresses and veils. But for events like tournaments, banquets and visits with other noble families, they would dress up in all their finery.