I've read that one reason that the nobility attending royal court in the 17th century had a passion for wigs, powdered faces, and gloves was the then prevalence of syphilis. By this reasoning those were partly devices to hide the bodily signs of the disease (before bedtime, that is).
A quick Google search turns up lots of so-so evidence to support this explanation, but I am wondering:
Are there any primary sources?
For example, in the form of contemporary or modern medical textbooks that add further (perhaps definite) evidence one way or the other.
Also, do we know what size the epidemic grew to in Europe and how it affected different strata of societies?
(Source: Portrait of Gerard de Lairesse by Rembrandt van Rijn, ca. 1665–67)
(Source: Six Stages of Mending a Face by Thomas Rowlandson, 1792)