Breakfast Caps

In the mornings upon arising, a mid-Victorian lady often wore a wrapper as she began her day. She might wear it merely while doing her toilette, or it might be her garb through breakfast and her morning activities. A proper and lovely headdress for a wrapper outfit was a "Breakfast Cap."

To the right is a breakfast cap from Arthur's Lady's Home Magazine in 1863. A fine net in the back is decorated with some type of thicker cord, possibly silk chenille. Lace, ribbon and roses adorn the front. This is a sweet little confection guaranteed to make you look prettier in the morning!

Another Breakfast Cap is shown in this image below left. Lace lappets and decorations make this one quite fun and frilly. It is likely constructed on a foundation of fine muslin on which the lace and embellishments are sewn.

Allgemeine Moden-Zeitung, 1862
Breakfast caps could also look simpler, yet still be refined and lovely in detail. The frilled white cap below would also do the trick of covering the hair sufficiently.  A bad hair day would instantly be made better with this on your head!

Would You Wear A Cap?
Reenactresses and living historians have many opportunities to wear Breakfast Caps. Obviously, you can wear one when you put your wrapper on in the morning. Both docents and reenactresses in the field might appreciate a hair covering until they have time to complete their toilette!

We have also found opportunities to wear our Breakfast Caps at "sleepovers" with our reenacting girlfriends! And if we are all lodged in the same hotel, we often make plans to "astonish the natives" by wearing our wrappers and Breakfast Caps to the hotel's dining room for breakfast!

But if you really love Victorian dress, you can wear a Breakfast Cap any morning! Who wouldn't want to put on one of these darling little creations in the morning? The Victorian ladies might have had the right idea after all!
Lookin' cute in our wrappers and caps!


  1. I find this really intriguing. Do you know which month of Graham’s the first cap was in? It showed up in Godey’s in 1863. Before that – the advice that Godey’s gave for years was that breakfast caps were to be of muslin, cambric, or mull, with embroidery, ribbons, or narrow Valenciennes lace for trim:
    January 1856 – “As a general rule, the more simple the morning cap the better. Ribbons are the only suitable decorations; flowers are only used for dinner or dress-caps… “
    November 1856 – “For good taste, you must be guided by the lady's dress. Flowers of any kind are more full dress than ribbon. Gold and silver flowers are pretty for a full dress party or ball. “
    August 1857 – “Breakfast caps are still in vogue, even for unmarried ladies, though this is not in strictly good taste. They vary from a simple barbe of lace, or embroidery, to elaborate combinations of lace, ribbon, and flowers. As a general rule, a breakfast cap should be simple, and ornamented with ribbons only. “
    July, 1859 – “Cambric, Marseilles, or pique sets (collar, sleeves, etc.) are usually worn for breakfast; as we have often mentioned, embroidered muslin or lace is out of place; Valenciennes inserting and edging is, however, chiefly used in breakfast-caps, alone or in combination with cambric.”
    July, 1861 -- “Many ladies prefer muslin and cambric as the material for breakfast caps , and in fact either is more suitable than lace for that purpose, as breakfast is a meal that presupposes negligee and a simple toilet.”
    It appears that the vast majority, if not all, of the breakfast and morning caps shown in their plates up to that point were, indeed, of cambric, or muslin, or dotted mull and similar fabrics. Then, in April 1863, this cap – of net, with big roses – shows up as a breakfast cap. It’s really an anomaly with what came before and with what came after, except for a cap in February 1864 that, while of muslin, had white flowers included in the trim.

  2. Thank you for your comments K. I appreciate your observations.