There's Something About Snoods

7th October 2009

Known as a ‘hairnet’ in America, the snood is an item of clothing, usually of cloth or a loosely knitted yarn, which is designed to be worn around the back of the head with the purpose of covering long hair and keeping it in place. The word snood comes from the Old English word ‘snod’, meaning a ribbon for the hair, and dates back to around 725AD. It was used to describe a cloth or netting used to cover the head, as well as items known today as hair bands.

Historically, the purpose of the snood has been adapted slightly, but it has always remained a method for either keeping hair in place or keeping it from losing its shape. During the 1860s, women would style their hair using an array of oils or clips, and cover it with a snood to prevent it from falling out or losing it form. It was a very popular item during this decade, and would often be worn en route to an event, or to a photography session, so that your hair style remained perfect for as long as you needed. The snood would match the colour of the wearer’s natural hair colour, and would often be lined with a decorative edging. In the 1870s the snood went out of fashion, but remained a practical item for ladies wishing to keep their hair out of the way while performing manual tasks, such as cooking, cleaning or working, right up until World War II.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an item known as a snood was worn by unmarried women from Scotland and Northern England as a way of highlighting their chastity. This garment does not resemble the modern day snood, but instead was a silk ribbon braided into a woman’s hair. During World War II the snood regained its popularity, particularly amongst women working in factories etc as part of the war effort. It was during the time of World War II when a film was released called The Taming of the Snood. The film is set in a hat shop, and reiterates the apparent ubiquity of snoods amongst women and in popular culture around this time.

Currently, the snood is a very popular winter garment when made out from a loose yarn, such as alpaca fleece. The insulation qualities of alpaca coupled with the positioning of the item make it a very useful accessory, and the many different colours and designs of snoods available today means they are both practical and fashionable. They are also sometimes used as roll-down neck scarves or as balaclavas for motorcyclists. Tznuit is a principle within Judaism which requires Orthodox Jewish women to follow certain guidelines, especially around Jewish men. They are required to act with humility and dress as modestly as possible. This includes covering your hair, for which the snood has proved a very popular accessory. Snood is also a popular video game for the Gameboy Advance handheld console, but the game has very little to do with this historically popular piece of practical headwear.