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A Dutch cap is a headpiece usually associated with traditional female Dutch clothing. The cap fits around the woman’s head, with triangular folds at each side. It can be made of white cotton, lace, or muslin. This particular design originates from Volendam, a province in the Netherlands.
Called the hul, this fabric headpiece completes female Volendam attire. The Dutch cap covers the woman’s ears and stands tall from her crown. Its brims are usually rolled up in an exaggerated width, depicted like wings above the head. It is close fitting, yet so broad in appearance that it becomes the most prominent accessory in female Volendam clothing.
These wide-winged white caps can be seen worn by women during special occasions, holidays, or on Sundays. The women then change into a simpler fabric cap during ordinary days of the week. Although these caps are used to indicate celebration of special events, they are also worn to identify the wearer’s social class. The Dutch cap is not only used as an ornament, but also as an implication of its wearer.
The Dutch have a wide assortment of fashions, and they differ accordingly based on province. Hats also vary from region to region. For females, some caps have long coverings that drape down to their shoulders and others have larger, peaked tops. Still others have laces to tie around the chin.
The Volendam cap is generally recognized as a Dutch cap, but there are many other styles of headpieces that are part of Dutch culture. In northern Limburg, caps have ribbons and tassels, which are meant to distinguish the social status of the wearer. In Zeeland, the headpieces are flamboyant and large. There are also provinces with simpler cap designs, like the ones in Marken. It is rare to see these caps in use except during festivities and celebrations.
There are distinguishing similarities between Volendam-based Dutch caps and the white caps worn by nurses. A common nurse’s hat is made up of a white fabric with two folded flaps. It is speculated that the nursing cap style is based on the traditional Dutch cap from Volendam.
In fact, St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing based its nurses' hats on Dutch caps. The hospital's promoted nurse is allowed to wear an organdy cap with typical side pleats. The cap is sloped in a descending direction from front to back to achieve the same general appearance of the Dutch caps.