Tridentine mass - what kind of head covering?

I am looking into attending the local Tridentine mass once or twice (if I can get there) and was thinking of wearing a head covering to blend in a bit more. I am generally not a fan of them, having grown up with much sexist nonsense about women’s clothing, but I figured it would be a good practice in attending a place where they are common. I do love the history of the church and have a reasonable grasp of the Latin language, so I would like to attend this service.

My question is, what kind of head coverings would be common at a traditional mass, and would there be any other expectations in dress? I don’t intend to purchase any new items for this, but I am a reasonable seamstress with a supply of fabric and 2 weeks of vacation. :smiley:

I can only speak for the local EF masses I have attended so you mileage may vary. :wink:

The most common head coverings I’ve seen are triangular pieces made out of lace in black, ivory, grey or brown with an occasional blue or pink thrown in (usually younger girls). The preference in my neck of the woods seems to be for longer chapel veils that drape over the shoulders and reach a couple inches below the shoulders in back. There are some older women that wear smaller circular head coverings. Some also wear scarves. The general rule is that the head covering should not be made with lace or materials with patterns and colors that draw inordinate attention.

If you are looking to “blend in” most ladies in the traditional parish we attend will wear dresses or skirts (below the knees of course :)) with sleeved blouses that have modest neck lines. At a tridentine mass you receive communion kneeling so keep in mind the view Father and the altar servers might have when looking down from 2 or 3 feet above you. What looks modest from the front might not be as modest from a raised vantage point.

I’m sure I’ll be lambasted for being sexist, but I am just trying to answer you honestly. The traditional masses I have attended certainly tend toward a certain style of dress. That doesn’t mean that you would be kicked out if you were dressed in tight jeans and a sleeveless tee-shirt, but you most certainly would stick out (so would a man since most men at the EF mass wear jackets and ties where I live).

Would black tulle be an acceptable material for a veil? I could edge it in plain black ribbon easily enough. And would it be too strange to have one falling back from a headband? My hair is very short and pins would do nothing whatsoever to hold anything in place.

I had presumed on the skirt. I am personally fond of tank top/shawl combinations so I had intended to wear one of those - especially as it will be a decent distance to walk and that combination would be much cooler and less likely to become sweat-stained.

No worries about being seen as sexist! I’m a flaming liberal for around here and even I can’t find anything wrong with your post.

Disclaimer, I’m a guy so asking me about fashion might not get you very far :smiley:

I looked up black tulle and I would imagine it would be fine. I know a couple of veils my wife has are made out of a patterned tulle with lace trims (a couple examples here). As for attaching it to a headband and black ribbon, I’ll leave that for some of the ladies that veil on how they think it would look.

Thanks for not saying I’m sexist. It seems anytime someone on this forum mentions skirts below the knee and modest neck lines they get spitted and told to “pay attention to the mass” and “don’t worry about what others are wearing.” As I say what you wear is up to you (not every woman at an EF mass will wear a skirt or have their head covered). I was just trying to provide an idea of what I see in general when I attend a tridentine mass.

Ribbon’s probably the most amount of decoration I could manage without going out and buying new fabric. And lace is hard to sew, especially for those of us who would be hand-sewing everything. I’d probably want to come out with something like this:

As far as sexism - I think there’s a big difference between telling someone what the common wear is and trying to prescribe what is not required. And I certainly know some people who can find immodesty in anything.

The head covering in the linked image would not look out of place in the EF parish we attend. Like I said as long as it’s not garish or screaming “look at me” you should be fine.

DarkLight, I am glad that you have discovered the Extraordinary form of the Mass. I hope that you will find it truly “extraordinary” in every sense of the word, and that it enriches your faith. I was in high school during the Second Vatican Council, and the Tridentine Mass was the ordinary mass for us. Dressing immodestly for church was not a problem, no one would have dreamed of it. We would pop a skirt over our shorts for Saturday afternoon confessions in the summer. We always covered our heads to enter a church even if it meant putting a kleenex on our heads for a quick visit after school! No one wore mantillas. Women of all ages, even little girls, wore hats. Even my Italian grandmother, born in 1881, never wore a mantilla. I never saw anyone wear one except in movies depicting Spanish ladies going to bullfights, until one Sunday Jackie Kennedy wore a mantilla which matched her dress to Mass. It may have been Easter so her picture was all over the newspapers. Then women started wearing them as a substitute for a hat. At one point I had a beautiful black and pink mantilla that matched a pink dress. When Jackie stopped wearing hats, so did everyone else. Women’s head covering in not mentioned in the new Code of Canon Law so it is no longer necessary to where them. I cover my head at the EF form of the Mass, but not at the OF form, because it has become a political statement which is too bad. I am saying all of this so that you will know that you can wear any kind of head covering you want, a hat, mantilla, scarf, large flat bow, anything that you are comfortable with. Since it is not required, don’t let not having a head covering keep you from going to the Tridentine Mass if you have the chance and don’t have any with you. If you wish you could get one of the little circular lace doily type things which comes it a little plastic case to keep in your purse. They were popular when I was a girl. I probably would not make one of those snood type things that was in the picture you posted. We lived in Israel for three years, and those were only worn by ultra-Orthodox Jewish women. In the US a woman who wore something like that might be mistaken for someone auditioning for “Fiddler on the Roof.”

When I go to the EF Mass, I prefer the mantilla for head covering. Until the weather turns very cold, I will wear this spring/summer semi-dressy hat for Ordinary Form Mass then return to my black mantilla.

At the EF Masses I’ve attended in various churches, I’ve seen a wide variety of head coverings ranging from mantillas/chapel veils of various sizes/colors/designs to small/medium dressy hats. Its up to you to find out what works best for you. I tend to stick to black for my head coverings (scarves, hats, and mantillas) as that is what looks good for me, and save the white mantilla I have for Easter time & Marian Feasts.

Most women wear mantillas. It’s very convenient and easy to put on and take off. However, you can wear scarves, hats, snoods or anything else that covers your head.

As someone has said, don’t let NOT having a head covering stop you from visiting an EF Mass.

Most places that offer the EF Mass generally will not be harsh on visiting females without head coverings. It depends on the church what they want to do.

Some churches may post signs saying if they require a head cover before entering the worship space and will offer free covers to female visitors (or parishioners who forget theirs). I’ve read websites for various societies like FSSP who may say on the church site that head covers are required or highly recommended for females. But if I had a chance to go to a church ran by a society in Communion with the Holy See, I would feel out of place if I did not have a covering on my head.

I don’t think any Ecclesia Dei community would “require” a covering for a visiting woman/gurlb, even if the website lists a dress code. They may offer a mantillla or shawl if the woman is dressed indecently.

Here’s the dress code that is used at our FSSP parish:

In charity to God and neighbor, please respect the following dress code at Mater Dei:


Please wear collared shirts, slacks, and dress shoes - preferably with a tie and a jacket. Please do not wear jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers.


Please cover everything from the shoulders to the knees (even when seated), inclusive - and a veil is always welcome. A blouse should not be cut lower than two fingers width below the pit of the throat. Please do not wear tight or see-through clothing.

As far as head coverings, there are almost as many long scarves as mantillas/chapel veils at our parish. If you have a nice little summer straw hat, or even a beret or something, that would be acceptable as well. But if you don’t feel called to wear a head covering, don’t feel pressured to wear one on your first trip out.

I’ve had skin cancer, and I usually wear a fedora or cloche with a brim wide enough to shield my face from the sun. Since I have a hat wardrobe, and I wear a hat out of doors during daylight hours, it seemed silly to me to drive to an EF Mass wearing a hat in the car and then changing into a mantilla or scarf once in the church parking lot. A couple of years ago one woman asked me why the hat after Mass. I didn’t dignify it with a response, and subsequently, the priest told me she was wrong for implying that I needed to wear an actual veil or mantilla.

That being said, a baseball cap with a beer logo on it would be decidedly tacky-looking!

In the US, mantillas were usually the domain of elderly women from south and east European extraction. They were popularized by Jackie Kennedy, when the US started going hatless as a rule. Before that, women generally wore hats to Mass, and kept a scarf, a small chapel veil, or a mantilla in their purses in case they decided to duck into church for a visit with the Blessed Sacrament.

What you’ve described with the ribbon-edged tulle is fine. It doesn’t have to be any particular size, and I think it would be an elegant alternative to the poly lace that seems ubiquitous at the EF Masses. You can make it of any color and length you like. I’ve seen some women with such head coverings which match the color of their coats, their hair, or give high contrast to both You might want to cut out a pattern of newsprint, put that on your hair, and fiddle around with it until you get a shape and dimension you like, if you’re so inclined. If you have access to a serger, a merrowed or serged edge would look elegantly simple as well.

Hope you spiritually enjoy your experience!

Thanks for the advice everyone! I know it’s not required but I’d like to wear it for this to blend in. It’s not something I feel called to do normally, but it’s something that I feel would be good for this once as a reminder of unity with my sisters that do.

As far as sewing, I have access to a needle, thread, and two hands! I’ve got some of the iron-on binding strips, I’ll probably use those as sewing with tulle is a pain. I think I can sneak a headband into the border so it stays put.

Simple. Lace Scarf or Stylish hat. Scripture teaches it is on account of the Angels. As for attire - in the days of Old - We were always taught to wear our Sunday Best because we were presenting ourselves before GOD in the Blessed Sacrament.

I think the same applies today - to dress as if we are to meet GOD face to face. How do you want to appear.


I have never figured out how to wear a scarf on my head that didn’t remind me of when I was 12 and trying to play gypsy. Not to mention neither hats nor scarves seem to want to stay on.

I am all for Sunday best, but I sort of dislike having it be expected. I’ve seen the expectation go bad too often, especially in regards to our poorer brothers and sisters, or those that may not regard it the same way.

I used to wear a mantilla when I first started attending the EF Mass, but it seemed to draw more attention to me from parishioners, so I quit covering my head. It’s really a split 50/50 in our Latin Mass Community for head coverings. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal whether or not you cover your head, or what you put on it unless it’s something way out there. I’d be more concerned about making sure you’re dressed modestly. We got “the reminder” again. No shorts, sleeveless shirts/dresses, and no “plunging necklines.”

I got a black lace mantilla and pinned it to a black hairband I owned and it worked fine. Wearing the mantilla without the band to secure it, it was just falling off my head at the slightest provocation.

I have several kippots from headcoverings by devorah - easy to stay on - they come with combs but I use a bobby pin and it stays better – depends on if you have kids to deal with. I do not have a Latin Mass close enough to attend but I feel I can still show the same respect for our Lord regardless of which Mass is offered.

There have been many threads on veiling and head covering. Please use search function.


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