M978.113.1 | Smoking cap

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Smoking cap
1860-1890, 19th century
10.4 cm
Gift of Mrs. Audrey Reekie
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cap (39)
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Keys to History

In the 19th century, exotic eastern styles, popular with men for hundreds of years, continued to excite the imaginations of fashionable men who wore black wool broadcloth and white linen on a daily basis.

For clothing worn in intimate settings, men could acceptably draw on other cultures for inspiration. The usual accompaniment to the dressing gown was the smoking cap, inspired by the Turkish fez. A smoking cap described as "Greek" or "Turkish," for example, might be worn with a "Persian"-style dressing gown of colourful paisley.

Gene Borio, "Tobacco Timeline: The Nineteenth Century--The Age of the Cigar" [on line]
http://www.tobacco.org (retrieved June 9, 2003).

  • What

    Smokers wore caps to prevent tobacco smoke from penetrating their hair.

  • Where

    The smoking cap was usually worn at home in special smoking rooms or studies, or in men's private clubs.

  • When

    Cigarette smoking became more common during the second half of the 19th century after the introduction of the safety match, manufactured cigarette papers and machine-made cigarettes.

  • Who

    Although cigarette makers targeted women as potential smokers as early as the 1880s, smoking was largely the preserve of men. The smoking cap was worn only by men.