Just like the clothing regulations that started in the 13th century, the rules governing how a woman should appear in public applied also to what she could or could not wear on her head. Women’s headwear was part of the discrimination and repression usual throughout these centuries. A young and unmarried girl wore her hair loose, while a married woman had to wear her hair in a central parting with a bun and some form of hat. “To come under the bonnet” is a rough translation of the German “untr d’Hauba komma”, meaning to get married as on a girl’s wedding day the bridal headdress was ritually removed and replaced by a Haube (bonnet), usually by her mother.
A book governing behaviour from the 15th century states that a woman should wear a wimple (Gebende) to show that she is subservient to the man. If a woman committed adultery, she was no longer allowed to wear a hat according to her station in life but her head was shaven and she had to thereafter go bare-headed like a prostitute.
In the middle of the 18th century, the basic hat for all age groups was a white dousette or mob cap. On top of this was placed the bonnet used by married women — the Pockel– or Bockelhaube — named after the hair buns (Haarbuckeln) worn on the sides or the back of the head. Depending on the woman’s class and age group, the hats were made of different materials.
The hats for older women were made of black gimp (Gimpenhaube), gauze (Florhaube) or chenille (Chenillehaube). In contrast, the hats for young women — the gold headdress (Goldhaube) — were made of a special lace netting (Hohlspitze) in gold or silver. Gold was used for high festivals, while silver was used for normal Sundays. While the special gold lace was bought from Jewish tradesmen, the tatted lace (e.g. shell lace, Muschelspitze) for the cheaper versions of the Goldhaube and the gauze and chenille for the older women’s hats were all made in nunneries. These hats were decorated with black lace, black costume beads, silk ribbons, tulle, gauze, and in particular with silken and golden threads and sequins. Due to changes in fashion, between 1740 and 1820, these types of hats usually reserved for women in the highest classes in society started being used by women in the lowest classes.
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