Tippet ~ the Regency boa

Tippet ~ the Regency boa

Today we would more accurately call these scarf-like fashion items a boa or stole. In the past, however, a “stole” primarily referred to the ecclesiastical garment, and the term “boa” was only used for the snake! Not until 1838 would “boa” begin to supplant the garment known as the tippet.


The tippet evolved from the long, wide-opened fur-lined sleeves common in the Medieval period. Easily confused with certain narrow scarves, small capelets, and the pelerine, a true tippet was long and very slender. While seen is every possible fabric, lace, embroidered net, muslin, and so on, most commonly a tippet was fur. It was draped over the shoulders, much the same as a shawl, but generally hugged the neck, as seen in the fashion prints above.

As with most garment accessories from these long ago eras, the style and look of it for the entire ensemble was vitally important. This fact, however, did not mean the item was superfluous. A thick fur tippet kept one’s neck warm, and the thinner muslin or lace tippet added a measure of concealment for the modest maiden’s décolletage.

Extant examples of a true tippet seem difficult to find, probably because the fur ones, especially, were repurposed. The trio above includes a fur tippet from the 1790s, flanked by two made of thin lace. Below are four examples seen in period paintings, all from the latter decades of the 1700s.

French lady wearing tippet, 1750


Lady Hervey, c.1765


“Mrs. John Faber” 1750


Marquise d’Aramon, 1790




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I can’t say I’m a big fan of these. I’m ok with a scarf in winter but only when going outside, apart from that I don’t bother (but then I do have a short neck so they feel rather bulky!)
I like silk scarves on other people though which are rather similar.


Interesting that the clergy used the word ‘stole’ and the tippet referred to a fashion piece. Today, the clergy still wear a stole, either over a surplice or under a chasuble, but there is always a piece that is longer and wider that is worn over a surplice that is called a tippet. They’re not interchangeable, but two different pieces of ecclesiastical vestments.

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