What is a Bonnet? All Things You Need to Know

You may have seen these pictures of undying elegance. You may be familiar with them because of a crush on Audrey Hepburn, but do you know this unique type of hat named bonnet? This article will elevate your knowledge about what a bonnet is.

What is a Bonnet?

A bonnet is a particular kind of headgear covering the whole back of the head and fixed with a long strip. It is mostly made of materials with a soft texture. Over 300 years, a bonnet’s shape and usage underwent huge changes.

History of Bonnet

Sprouting for Practicality 

Before the 18th century, females wore a type of cape attached to a hat against bad weather.  With time going on, A bonnet became more popular for its identical benefits and less burden.  However, it was utilized mostly at home and on informal occasions due to females’ inferior social status at that time. 

Prevailing for Aesthetics

The 19th century witnessed the bonnet featuring in the fashion circle during the reign of Romanticism. Both males and females were eager to pursue personal temperaments and individual liberty. Therefore, bonnets of exaggerated shapes and various fancy decorations were employed to infuse a sense of layer and drama into the attairment. The fancy Easter bonnet can be traced back to the 19th century as well.

Returning for Comfortability

The contemporary era devotes more importance to comfort and function as the rage of Modernism and Minimalism, chilling the zeal for baroque or rococo styles. Consequently, people prefer to wear bonnets to augment hair wellness and enjoy a cozy night. However,  a minority of people still exhibit their unique color and style with resort to bonnets, such as lolita-girls. 

Composition of a Bonnet

Generally, a bonnet is composed of a soft caul and a strip for fixation. Its brim varies significantly in shape and style. For an outdoor bonnet, the brim always extends outwards and narrows to nothing. In contrast, an indoor bonnet,  also called a hair bonnet and headwrap,  usually has a short or no brim.

Main Types and Corresponding Materials

For the dynamic demands for the bonnet,  its designers and manufacturers have been persisting in the amelioration and transcendence of their products. Consequently, bonnets are no longer restricted to females and upgraded functionally and aesthetically,  hence a wide selection of types. The underlying guide can walk you through some well-known types and what they are made of.

Bonnets for Females

Females constitute the majority of bonnet users in all time. In ancient, females of the aristocracy and laboring gave rise to different styles of the bonnet, the former’s emphasis on shape and beauty whereas the latter function and cost-efficiency. Furthermore, the bonnet for females comes in numerous types characterized by distinct applications. 

Type Sample Come into vogue Main Material Unique Features
Calash bonnet  About the mid-18th century

Disappeared in the 19th century





·Collapsible for storage

·Much bigger than the head

·Mostly of green

·Tied around the neck

Poke bonnet The early 19th century ·Straw





· A round and considerable brim  

· A long and plump caul 

·Tied under the chin

coal-scuttle bonnet The Mid-19th century ·Straw





·A short brim

·A flat caul

·Like a coal scuttle

Hair  Bonnet Since its birth, especially recently ·Silk


·Only for indoor use

·Special for hair protection

·A short or no brim

Cotton Bonnet Unable to verify ·cotton


·For both indoor and outdoor use

·No brim

·Clung to skin

Bonnets for Males

Bonnets are thermal items for males as well. They are usually made of soft materials, including cotton, wool, and polyester. Male bonnets usually don’t have a protruding or peaked brim, adorned with some personalized patterns instead. This makes you stand out in a crowd of baseball caps.

Bonnets for Babies

Babies are vulnerable to temperature change and rough objects. Thus, a specialized baby bonnet is an excellent choice to protect tiny family members.  A baby bonnet shields the whole head of babies, including hair and ears. It is mostly made of cotton and sometimes silk. Meanwhile,  It had no brim or shadow which causes a loss of security,  unlike its adult counterpart.

What is a Bonnet Used for?

As a Chic Icon

The outdoor bonnet is quite versatile. Its front brim usually extends outwards in a circular arc. Therefore, it blocks the invasion of sunshine while you expose your face and ears. Bonnets, makeup, and clothes, You have enough room to design your style.

As a practical item

As a specialized category of headcovering, the bonnet offers a variety of protection as its counterparts do. 

However, considering the increasing importance of body care and comfortability, the hair bonnet has taken off in recent years. Consequently, people now tend to refer to “hair bonnet” while using the single word “bonnet”. For this new trend, the following points of what a hair bonnet is used for expound on the reasons.

  • Benefit for Hair Health:  A bonnet of silk satin does not absorb water in your hair, in other words, retains moisture and luster. If your hair keeps in a soft and flowing condition, you can avoid annoying friction and knotting during sleep. Also, you are free of hair breakage and luster loss resulting from tangling and rubbing. Besides, A good bonnet provides a better-enclosed environment for hair oil and conditioner. Your hair can have a better absorption of those nutrients and ingredients.
  • Benefit for hair beauty: An appropriate bonnet improves the longevity of your hairstyle. You may find it difficult to maintain the hairstyle designed by your barber, especially in an occupied morning. Then you can try to use a bonnet. It protects the color and shape of your hair, including elaborate waves, braids, and curls.
  • Benefit for skin: Your pillow may be in terribly poor hygiene even when it looks clean. As you spend so much time on your bed, the pillow absorbs water in your hair, chemical substances in hair products,  dandruff, and so on. It provides a desirable environment for bacteria to hold onto your pillow and proliferate.  After using hair care products, wearing the bonnet prevents your hair from touching your pillow. It’s conducive to your skin more or less.
  • Other convenience: A bonnet offers you great comfortability while your skincare and makeup.

How to Find the Right Bonnet?

Under the heat of hair protection, you may need a thorough guide about the high-quality bonnet. Before going to a bonnet shop or clicking an e-shop website, you can first plan your budget and organize your requirements. Here are some points you should take into account.


Mostly, a bonnet of quality is made of satin or silk. In fact, silk is a type of natural fiber whereas satin is a pattern of waving. They both provide a cozy cradle for your hair. However, silk assumes an unparalleled elegance and exquisiteness and meanwhile hardly irritates your skin. On the other hand, satin is more economical and easier to care for. If you want more details, you can refer to the silk vs satin bonnet where you can get a complete comparison between the two products. 


To pick a bonnet in the best size, you can finish your necessary measurements at home.  A bonnet of a smaller size may make your scalp feel uncomfortable. In contrast, a bonnet of a bigger size may be too loose and slip off when you move in deep sleep.

One or Double Layer

If you choose to buy a bonnet, you should take the number of layers into account. Some fabrics have different textures on their two sides. For example, satin has a gloss finish and a matt finish,  one extremely smooth and the other slightly rough. Besides, a bonnet of two layers can be reversible with each layer printed a unique pattern.

Attachable Label

The design of the label will largely impact your use of a bonnet. You should check the place of the label and make sure it doesn’t make you uncomfortable.

How to Wear a Bonnet?

After finding the right bonnet, you need to put it on properly.

First, you should shake your bonnet to make its caul plump. Grab it with your two hands, thumbs inside the bonnet. 

Second, turn down your head and let all your hair cascade into your bonnet. Users with long and thick hair are better to take more time here to combat your escaping strands.

Third,  secure your bonnet with your hands moving from the back to the front. 

Finally, raise your head and check if your bonnet is properly fixed. You can add another elastic to secure it more firmly.

How to Take Care of Your Bonnet?

A bonnet in good condition should retain a deluxe sheen and smooth surface, inseparable from delicate daily care. Here are some beneficial tips on caring for your bonnet. 

About storage: You should place your bonnet in an airy place after you use it. Remember not to just throw it which makes the texture get wrinkled and the lining breed bacteria. 

About wash: No matter what material your bonnet is made of, you’d better wash it every one or two weeks. Pay attention to the difference in washing mode between the two fabrics.

  • Satin: It supports gentle machine wash and the light color should be washed separately. The water temperature should not be too high.
  • Silk: It is only hand washable and dry-cleanable. Do not wash or rub it roughly and the water temperature should be lower than 86 Fahrenheit.

Abou ironing and drying: Ironing is necessary when your bonnet crumples or creases. The ironing and pressing are supposed to be done with a low heat. After that, hang your bonnet in a shady and airy place. Never get it exposed to the blazing sun.

Besides, to fulfill a bonnet’s positive condition in the long term, you are supposed to follow these steps every time you use it.

FAQs about Bonnet

Are Bonnets for All Hair Types?

People with all hair types can use a bonnet, including long, short, straight, and curly hair.

Do Bonnets Make your Hair Greasy?

No, bonnets don’t make your hair greasy. If you feel your hair is greasy, you can check whether your bonnet and pillow are in clean condition. Sometimes, the oil secreted by your skin and the chemical substances in care products will be left on your bonnet and pillow. These residues accumulate and consequently make your hair and skin greasy.

Does Wearing a Bonnet at Night Help Hair Grow?

Wearing a bonnet at night doesn’t help hair grow immediately. However, you can have a better absorption of your hair product if you use a bonnet in the long term. This makes sure your hair has enough nutrition to grow.

Is a Bonnet Better than a Silk Pillowcase?

It depends on your choice. A silk pillowcase can not only protect your hair but also make your skin healthy and prevent facial creases. However, if you have wavy, curly, or very long hair,  a silk pillowcase can not work well in keeping your hair moist and in shape. 


The bonnet is embedded with profound social progress and momentous historical imprints, its story sparking in the endless flow of history. Nowadays, a bonnet is more than a terminal or fashion item. It can also provide you with exquisite hair care and great convenience. As a professional silk product manufacturer, Sinosilk can offer you a variety of custom bonnets, including diverse designs and fabrics. If you are interested in this product, do not hesitate to contact us.

More Resources

Bonnet – Source: Wikipedia

How to Wash Silk BonnetSource: Sinosilk

How to Wear A Bonnet Source: Sinosilk

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