An oorijzer

A little while ago, I bought an old oorijzer online (more about what that is here).

This is what mine looks like



You see them for sale regularly, but they’re generally the most ‘modern’ incarnation of an oorijzer, as worn with traditional clothing. These types of oorijzers are also generally very expensive, as there can be quite a bit of gold and silver in them.


FolkCostume: Costume of Fryslân or Friesland, land of the West Frisians, the Netherlands

Some of them are practically solid gold helmets.


The oorijzer I bought caught my interest as it was brass (so: affordable), and it was both narrow, and didn’t have any ‘attachments’ to the front. These attachments are practically always present on oorijzers from the 18th century onward. As I bought it I had some hope it’d actually be a 17th century one, but alas, it shows signs of breakage at the front. So it did have something attached to the front. I suspect this was silver of gold, and simply removed to be sold separately.


Damage on the ends, Something was attached here…

Oorijzer gedragen door vrouw of meisje in Axelse streekdracht. Zilveren beugel met roodgouden krullen. De krullen hebben 4 windingen. 1899 #Axel

An example of an oorijzer of silver, with golden tips.


As mine doesn’t have a maker’s mark, it’s practically impossible to determine the age. The example above is made in 1899, while the one below is from 1640. See the difficulty? The basic shape stayed almost exactly the same in some areas of the country.  Dating happens based on the maker’s mark, and the attachments to the front, both of which are missing.

vroeg oorijzer met vogelkopuiteinde, ca. 1640 17de eeuws oorijzertje van metaal. Bodemvondst uit Rotterdam. Smal beugeltje dat om het achterhoofd sluit, boven de oren met een knik naar voren valt, zodat de uiteinden op de wangen rusten. In de uiteinden drie gaatjes en twee aangesoldeerde bewerkte stukken met een oogje. #ZuidHolland #Rijnmond

An early oorijzer from ca. 1640.


Nevertheless, I’m quite happy with my oorijzer. Without the attachments at the front, it really does look and work like a late 16th/early 17th century one would. It has got the little holes on the ends (for pinning your cap in place). Most of the 16th century oorijzers don’t have that second feature, but other than that they actually look really similar to mine. Plus, the holes come into play in the 17th century at some point, as the previous one shows.

Oorijzer, vermoedelijk laatste kwart 16de eeuw




A slightly clearer view of the tips, including three little holes for the pins.


Most oorijzers of that period don’t really show, only maybe sometimes the ends. They’re very much useful items at this point in time, they serve to keep your headwear in place.

This is a rare period view of an oorijzer without a cap.


This invisibility also means I could use mine for the same purpose! Many of the different types of headwear in the Netherlands in this era require an oorijzer to look good. As I now own one, that opens up new possibilities. I don’t have any concrete plans, but I definitely want to make something to wear my oorijzer with some day!

To end this post, some lovely images depicting women wearing oorijzers with different caps. No, you mostly cannot see them, but look for how the cap sits very closely to the cheekbones, sometimes almost pressing into the cheeks? That effect is nearly impossible to achieve without an oorijzer. As we know they were worn widely during this era, I feel safe to say that they are in fact wearing one.

A simple black coif.

Reynier Hals, Woman with Needlework, ca. 1665. Frans Hals Museum #franshalsmuseum #haarlem #art


And a simple white coif, this time you see the oorijzer sticking out.

File:Wenceslas Hollar - Young Negress 2.jpg  another 1640s image that gets to live here for now...


A more complex cap.

Detail of the painting of Lady Governors of the St. Elisabeth Hospital at Haarlem, 1641.  By Johannes Cornelisz. Verspronck. Frans Hals Museum Haarlem.


In this one, the compression in the cheeks is very visible. You cannot see the oorijzer, but you see the earrings. These would commonly be attached to the oorijzer instead of the ears, as you cannot see those.

The Ultimate One Pattern Piece Project: Elizabethan Coif | The ...


Somewhat more fancy still. No oorijzer visible, but the cap is hugging the head.

Portrait of a Young Woman | Royal Collection Trust


I have many, many more examples on my pinterest here.


Inspiration – Tudor

In December I got a couple of new costume books, including the Tudor Tailor! I have never made anything pre 1800, but I love the Tudor period in style, and I was very interested in the information and the patterns it would include. So far, I’ve been really happy with it, the background information is really nice, as I didn’t know a lot about this period. The patterns provided give options for creating several full outfits, both male and female, from undergarments to dresses and head wear.

Additionally, I just got some lovely silk I’ve been eyeing for months. I finally decided that if it’s still on my mind months after I first saw it, it’s meant to be. Also, the price was incredibly good, so I can justify the buy. It’ll do for Tudor, but also slightly earlier, so I’m not sure yet what it will be. It’s pretty though…


I’m not sure if/when I’ll actually get around to making Tudor things, but it’s always fun to plan and dream. The book covers various eras and styles, but for now I’m focusing on the ‘typical’ Tudor dress, ca. 1530-1560.

So some of my favourites.

I’ve found that many portraits showing Tudor fashion show a black and/or red coloring. So I figured I’d organize by color.



Mary Tudor, ca 1515

I adore the black (velvet? it looks like it) with pearls and gold look of this portrait. She also has interesting under-sleeves. It’s too bad the bottom is not shown, but there’s a 1850 adaptation of this portrait which gives a suggestion:

(c) Palace of Westminster; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I’m not sure how accurate the pearls on the hem are though. And I’m curious what’s hanging off her belt!



Anne de Pisseleu (1508–1576), Duchesse d’Étampes Attributed to Corneille de Lyon (Netherlandish, active by 1533, died 1575)

Another black/white/gold dress, although it looks like she has white undersleaves and a white kirtle on (showing the skirt between the open front). This time it looks like embroidery which gives the white details. I’m also intrigued by her necklaces, and the way they fall so wide. And she has the initial-necklace! I’ve only seen this on Anne Boyelin before (with a B), but I don’t know that much on the period, so I think it might’ve been a trend!



The Jersey Portrait, previously identified as Lady Jane Grey, is now identified as Katherine Parr

Another black dress with different color sleeves and kirtle. The quality of the image is not great, but the silver/red combination of her sleeves & kirtle is interesting. Her outer sleeves seem to be made of fur, not sure I like the look that much. But, she does have pearls!



Princess Elizabeth, c. 1543-1547. ‘The Family of Henry VIII’, detail. Anon. Hampton Court Palace. © The Royal Collection.

Moving in the direction of less black and more red. I think this combination of fabrics is my favorite. The brocade of her dress is gorgeous, and the sleeves and kirtle have a color which complements it perfectly. If only I could find fabric like this…



Catherine Howard, cousin of Anne Boleyn and fifth wife of Henry VIII

A similar color combination, but with red as main color. The sleeves & kirtle look wonderfully intricate, and her partlet seems to be embroidered with gold. It’s also interesting that her outersleeves are a different color and fabric.



Catherine Parr, sixth (and last) wife of Henry VIII

We’re moving into the realm of different colors now! Although I believe that red/gold was quite a popular combination. In any case, the brocades are gorgeous. Still not a fan of fur sleeves though.



Katherine Parr, Sixth Wife of King Henry VIII

This portrait is intriguing because the fabrics are so different from anything else I’ve seen. The colors, with the salmon and green and pink, and also the fact that the base color seems to be white(ish). I don’t particularly like the fabric, or the combination with the orange/green of the sleeves & kirtle, but it’s interesting! (also, note how in all of her portraits shown here, Katherine Parr has her hands in exacly the same way… Makes me wonder if the painter was the same, or if they were just copying eachother, or if it has some meaning)



Mary Tudor, Queen of France, Sister of Henry VIII

To finish, one of the only portraits I’ve found where the dress is not black/gray/red/orange/golden toned. I haven’t really been able to find other purple/blue/green examples. This is probably also because the bright versions of these colors were hard to create in Tudor times. (I know the green dress Natalie Portman wore in ‘The Other Boyelin Girl’ is gorgeous, but no way they’d been able to achieve that color in the 16th century!) Nonetheless, this portrait is a lovely example. I particularly like the fabric of her sleeves, and the way her left (for the viewer) sleeve seems to be almost falling off showing her kirtle beneath.