Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chin Up

An Egyptian queen wore a false beard as a symbol of masculine power but in the Middle Ages, swathed chins became an emblem of femininity. 

Sophie Marceau as Princess Isabelle in Braveheart (1995).

The English started the trend with an early form of the wimple - a linen cloth draped like a bib, completely encircling the face, topped off with a veil. 

Soon similar styles swept Europe, beginning with the popular barbette, a chin band attached to a pillbox hat.  A married woman wore a gorget, an even more concealing bib, that stretched from the chest to the ears; and widows switched to a pleated version, the barbe

The height of the barbe was strictly regulated by the sumptuary laws.  Women of baroness rank on down wore their barbes below their chins; higher noblewomen wore them slightly above; and a queen wore a barbe that covered her chin completely.

Fashion became law in the 15th Century when, needing some explanation for the Virgin Birth, the Catholic Church decided that Mary conceived through her ear.  Consequently, it decreed the female ear a sexual organ and demanded that women wear wimples at all times to keep their ears well covered.


  1. Through the ear? Are they serious. That sounds so funny now a days. I loved the fashion, but the theory behind makes me giggle. Isn't it curious how things get started? No one questions that fact that Mary was pregnant without having sex by a man no one can see, is a God and lives in the heavens, but freak out to think that it happened through her ear.

    Good post!

  2. I know! Some of this stuff is so crazy unbelievable.