Nothing tops a beautiful outfit like a perfect hat. Whether it’s a lacy headdress decorated with velvet and tulle from the mid-Victorian era or a wide-brimmed, "flower power" sun hat of chenille daisies from the 1960s, hats reflect and define the fashions of their day.
During the 1860s and ’70s, the popular drawn bonnets of the mid-19th century became oval, framing the face more naturally than the round ones that had preceded them. These spoon bonnets were decorated with ribbons, lace, and flowers made of organdy and silk. Straw skimmers, also known as rounds, were worn outdoors—the best of these had patterns of silk braids sewn onto their tops.
By the end of the century, hats were moving in two directions. Some were demure, almost too small for the heads they were perched on. Others had high-domed crowns and were piled high with loops of ribbon and drapes of rich velvet. Wide Gainsborough hats, sometimes called cartwheels, were the exception to this general rule. These showy chapeaux were decorated with so many feathers that laws had to be passed to prevent entire species of birds from going extinct.
As the 20th century dawned, the Gibson Girl dominated fashion. The hallmark of the look was an hourglass figure (achieved by painfully tight corsets) and a big hat up top. Gainsboroughs were still worn, thanks to their popularization in the 1907 musical "The Merry Widow." Smaller, but no less ornate, pompadour hats were a mirror of the popular hairstyle of the same name. By the end of the century’s first decade, Edwardian fashions were in full swing, resulting in black velvet hats trimmed with ostrich feathers and velvet-and-silk flowers.
In the years before and after World War I, gigantic garden hats were still in vogue, but other trends were having an impact. Hats resembling berets and turbans began to appear, as did Musketeer hats. Tricorne hats, motoring hats, and straw boaters all had good runs toward the end of the decade. And as a precursor of the decade to come, close-fitting cloche hats were introduced.
Women in the 1920s went crazy for hats. In addition to the ubiquitous cloche, some with wide swooping brims, some without, women wore sculptural hats resembling airplane wings or actual crowns. Felt hats were embroidered with Art Deco flowers, and kits were sold for just $.89 so that women could make their own "crushers," as they were called. Actress Louise Brooks made it acceptable to wear pokes and helmet hats, and so-called Speakeasy hats were studded with sequins and costume jewels.
Things sobered up a bit in the 1930s, but only a bit. Black Sou’wester hats made of braided hemp continued the helmet look. In fact, straw hats went from garden to dressy, as straw cloches were woven with ecru to resemble smart tweeds. Knit turbans took off thanks to Greta Garbo, the pillbox was introduced, and women even took to wearing sequined or rhinestone-accented calot caps, which resembled large yarmulkes and were first worn by the ancient Greeks. Colorful berets and pirate caps, as well as felt or stitched geometric Dutch Boys, added to the decade’s sense of style...
During World War II, the fedora reigned, mostly due to Ingrid Bergman’s look in the 1942 film Casablanca. Crocheted snoods designed to keep hair from getting tangled in machine parts were a counterpoint to Rosie the Riveter’s famous red with white polka dot headscarf. After the war, berets of crushed velvet and printed barkcloth gained ground, as did bandeaux, which weren’t really hats but looked like them from the front when padded and worn like a tiara.
In the 1950s, hats almost resembled the costume jewelry of that period. The mushroom cloche and the melon hat were just two of the hats that took their shapes, and names, from food. Celebrities such as the Duchess of Windsor and Gloria Swanson wore casques, sailors, and large-brim hats interchangeably. Mamie Eisenhower wore an Air Wave hat to her husband’s first inauguration. Small but visually arresting cocktail hats were decorated with everything from dyed feathers to faceted beads, while bowlers, rollers, and Bretons were perfect for everyday wear.
Finally, in the 1960s, hats reflected the rising dominance of youth culture. The decade began with turban-like bubble toques made of feathers, prints, or mesh. Felt conehead caps and zippered Bobbie helmets exuded a Carnaby Street vibe, while fake fur was the fabric of choice for many pointed fedoras. Patent-leather jockey caps, from jet black to bright yellow, continued the Mod style, and even straw Gainsboroughs, which now seemed entirely in step with the trend toward natural looks, returned to the fashion stage for yet another bow.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
American Hatpin Society
Fashion Columbia Study Collection
1960s Fashion and Textiles
Vintage Fashion Guild
The Antique Corset Gallery
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Womens Hats
Source: Google News
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley sticks to her favourite style formula... hat ...Daily Mail, April 16th
On this occasion the star, who must have a very large hat collection, wore a deep purple fedora hat over her blonde locks. Adding some glamour: Rosie wore a pair of tight leather trousers with her deep purple hat. Music love: The actress's evening out...Read more
EASTER SUNDAY: Veritably Vintage Fair at the Landmark Theatre, IlfracombeNorth Devon Journal, April 16th
"I have also been running Facebook competitions for the best dressed vintage gent and lady wearing a vintage hat rather than an Easter bonnet. They can either choose from a cream tea for two or tickets to see Easter Parade. "Outside on the green, as...Read more
Enswear “Bob” Leather Bucket Hat Collection | First LookstupidDOPE, April 15th
Its 2014 and for the past few years the bucket hat has made its way back into the fashion world. Of course, thanks in part to Schoolboy Q, we've seen bucket hats coming from all angles this year, and today we bring you another fine offering of the...Read more
Wale Debuts Wrking Title Hat CollectionVibe, April 9th
Last night, MMG's Wale debuted his first hat collection for his new line, Wkring Title. Hundreds gathered in Downtown Manhattan as the DC rapper unveiled his new headwear pieces for fans and potential buyers. Wale plans to have his collection in select ...Read more
Vintage hat program at Faribault Senior Center a successSouthernminn.com, March 25th
The hats that were modeled and shared at last week's Senior Center vintage hat program. Thanks so much to the 50 women who attended this educational and entertaining trip down memory lane. Our guest presenter, Heather Edgington, wove a history ...Read more
Spring Cleaning Rehab for Hamtramck Vintage Hat ShopCurbed National, March 25th
Believe it or not, Detroiters, spring has officially begun. And with that comes spring cleaning. If you drive through downtown Hamtramck's main drag on Joseph Campau, you'll see that spring cleaning came early for the old Cody's Hat building. Hamtown...Read more
Stampd City Hat Collection PreviewEmag.co.uk, March 24th
Los Angeles-based “avantstreet” company Stampd is gearing up to release its City Hat collection for the upcoming 2014 spring/summer season. The line features a series of five hats, each paying homage to a different city or location that has in some way ...Read more
Stampd Reveals Monochromatic City Hat CollectionstupidDOPE.com, March 24th
Remember when you were younger and you'd go to the club in hopes the DJ would play “Rep Yo City” so you could throw up your hood? Of course you remember those days. And yes, you threw up your hood even if it wasn't a hood at all. But now you're ...Read more