This nightcap is a typical example of informal headwear for a wealthy man. Although only worn in the privacy of home, it is a luxurious garment.
Ownership & Use
Covering the head for both men and women was an important sartorial custom in Western Europe up until 1960s. From a health perspective, head coverings were considered necessary to protect against chills and disease. In literature and paintings, to be bareheaded often signified emotional distress or even insanity.
The use of the adjective 'night' in describing various types of informal garments, as in nightcap or nightgown, is sometimes confusing. It refers to 'night clothes', that is, informal clothing worn in the evening, after the formal public attire of the day, rather than to garments that were actually worn in bed.
Designs & Designing
The nightcap's pattern of roses, strawberries, grapes and vine leaves characterises embroidery of the early 17th century. Most needlework designs of the period were naturalistic interpretations of flowers, birds and insects, often copied from herbals and emblem books. By the 1620s several books had been published specifically for embroidery, often with patterns specially adapted for the shape of the nightcap.