In medieval days, young single women could wear their hair long and loose, but when they married they had to act more modest and cover it with a wimple, a kind of headdress. I’m sure if the woman was attractive to a man, the wimple acted as a kind of aphrodisiac to him. “I yearn to helpest yonder maiden to lettest down her luxurious locks!” (Try to say that fast five times.) Or maybe I’m just thinking like a 21st century Horny Time Traveler? Still, I believe that what is hidden becomes of intense interest. Of course, some of the more elaborate wimples called to mind the horns or armor of animals–even animals that nobody knew about back then, prehistoric reptiles like the triceratops! I wonder if a medieval man confronted with a monstrous wimple on a woman might have had second thoughts about the wisdom of dallying with her.
Although women were generally regarded as “inferior” to men, they managed to partake in everything from defending beseiged castles to hunting with falcons. They didn’t wear panties of any sort under their long gowns, and they slept in the nude. Keep that in mind the next time you watch Janet Leigh in The Vikings or Prince Valiant!
I got some of my fun facts and the monster wimple pic from Life in Norman Times at http://www.teachnet.ie/mmorrin/norman/fashion.htm, and the more cozy wimple pic from Dress and Decor at http://www.theatre.ubc.ca/dress_decor/medieval_world_dress.htm.