I found this great post over at Two Nerdy History Girls about 17th and 18th century masks. Below is a watercolor from Habits de France published in 1581.
In 16th century France, these full masks were worn to protect the woman's face from the wind and sun. Kind of Silence of the Lambs creepy huh? I doubt ladies could breath or even speak very easily under these masks. But maybe that was the point.