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
Glazer to present old pal Strahan at CantonNew York Post, July 26th
The traditional Hambletonian hat giveaway on this day also attracts some people who only come on that day to insure their Hambo hat collection is complete.” “It's a new era for the greatest trotting race in the sport of harness racing, and an exciting...Read more
'Rosie Signature Hat Collection' to benefit Old FriendsBrisnet.com, July 25th
The "Rosie Signature Hat Collection" is the second fundraising campaign done by the jockey and Steinmann to support Old Friends. In 2013-2014, Napravnik participated in the 6th annual "Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby," an online fashion ...Read more
The Day After; Calculating the costs of fire's damage; Playhouse loses ...Murray Ledger and Times, July 25th
Cope said there many vintage hats, 25 giant boxes of fabric, numerous Christmas-related props and much, much more that were lost. Cope said people have offered to clean out their closets and donate what they find, but Playhouse really needs specific...Read more
'80 and Excellent'Morning Star, July 25th
Strains of live jazz in the air, provided by the Ron Getz Trio, along with staff members decked out in vintage hats set the mood even if period outdoor games such as marbles and croquet, and novelty photos with farm cutouts had to be cancelled due to rain...Read more
Slide Show: The Hat Collection of Dr. SeussLA Magazine, July 24th
Seventy-five years ago, Dr. Seuss wrote his second book, The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins. In the story, when a boy (Bartholomew) loses his hat, another one appears in its place. Around the same time, the author began his own collection of headgear ...Read more
Pupils at Bromsgrove school don vintage hatsBromsgrove Advertiser, July 15th
Bromsgrove Advertiser: HISTORY HATS: North Bromsgrove High School pupils Courtney Stevens and Adelle Davies HISTORY HATS: North Bromsgrove High School pupils Courtney Stevens and Adelle Davies, both aged 15, have being wearing vintage ...Read more
Extensive hat collection to be displayed, soldCT Post, July 6th
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A collection of vintage hats will go on display at a southern Indiana history center this fall and then be auctioned to benefit the facility. Helen DeSawal has been collecting the items for 35 years, and many of the items were ...Read more
Monroe Co. History Center To Auction 1940s Hat CollectionWBIW.com, July 6th
(BLOOMINGTON) - The Monroe County History Center plans to auction an extensive collection of recently donated hats to help fund its operations this fall. Helen DeSawal has been collecting the items for 35 years and says some date from the 1940s...Read more