sleeping caps

Does anyone know the purpose of those long sleeping caps that they always show people wearing before they went to bed (and maybe in bed?) in days of old?

Their purpose was to keep your head warm and keep you from catching a cold.

Ok, so why were they so long past your head? Why not ski caps?

You do not catch a cold from having a cold head or a cold anything for that matter. You catch a cold from germs.

I agree that they were worn to keep the head warm, but it is a good question. From a utilitarian standpoint, it would seem that a long cap would be more likely to get pulled off the head during sleep.

Hard to believe that fassion would come into play for sleeping caps, but what else could it be? I can’t even guess what funtional purpose the style would have.

A sleeping cap came with my sleeping bag. It’s a “Snoopy”-looking thing that’s meant to keep the dirt and oils on your head from soiling the bag.

Not being in the military, I have the luxury of picking when and where I use my bag and how often I get to shower, so I don’t use the cap.

I seem to remember bonnet and ski-cap style sleeping caps in old (that is, contemporaneous) illustrations and such. But it just seems that those styles never stuck in our (and filmmakers’, storybook illustrators’, etc.) conciousness to become an icon of our present-day version of the past.

That make sense? Let me put it another way…

(I suspect) the classic Scrooge-stlye drooping sleeping cap is just a self-perpetuating cliche – like Sherlock Holmes wearing a deer-stalker hat, and the image of a fat, red-clad, bearded Santa; there were other versions of Holmes and Santa, but none stuck like those two. And now it seems like they are the only versions that ever existed.

The ski caps that fit snuggly on my head make my scalp itch while that old funny type would not. I wonder if that may be the answer.

Here’s a WAG on why the peaked shape: elasticity. A “ski cap” is made of a knit material that stretches to fit your head. If you are working with a woven fabric (like flannel) that doesn’t have stretch to it, a close fitting hat would have to be fitted quite precisely to the individual for it to fit well. A cone shape, on the other hand, can be pulled down over the head until the desired fit is achieved, with the excess folded up.

That’s a damned good guess. I’ll buy it.

I agree with gatsby… robinh’s guess is boffo! (I almost don’t care if it’s right or not… I’ll buy it too.)

Well, here’s my WAG: I think Johnny LA had the right idea. In the olden days long hair was common, but baths were not. Your hair musta become pretty yucko by the time the monthly bath came around. So you wanted a long cap to shove all your hair into so it wouldn’t grease up your pillow and sheets.

Did it come as a set?

Did you get those neat candle holders that look sorta like Aladdin’s lamp with sleeping caps.

You don’t often see one without the other.

Another point. Houses in victorian england were cold. really cold. So the hat was necessary. BTW, PBS is running a good series called The 1900 House. I haven’t seen any pointy hats though.

Let me get this straight; in your view of the olden days, people only bathed once a month and had yucko hair, yet they were very worried about keeping their bedding clean?

I think not.

labdude said:

Take it from me, many houses in the UK are still bloody cold!!

Actually, the curator in charge of the restoration of the house spent the night before the family moved in, and he had a traditional nightcap.

I think that we forget most men used pomade, brilliantine, macassar oil or other suchlike greasy kid stuff in their hair. The dry look wasn’t in for most middle-class men. The nightcap would help keep this sort of stuff off the linen, rather like the antimacassars on a sofa or chesterfield.

And people werern’t that much dirtier in 1900 than now; face and hand were washed daily (though in cold water), and a hot bath might be a once a week thing. Middle class people would have bathed more frequently than that. I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think daily bathing (or showering) has been a feature of modern society for all that long: maybe since WWII–1950s? Anyone know?

Actually, I wasn’t making a guess. I was just saying that the military issues caps with their sleeping bags to help keep them clean. No idea of the origin of the long pointy cap.