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
WIN: Tickets To See Pharrell Williams In Brisbane Or Perth!Music Feeds, March 9th
“Which Australian politician gave to Pharell Williams' hat collection?” (Hint: the answer can be found here!) Entries close at midday on show day – that's 12:00pm AEDT Wednesday, 12th March 2014 for Brisbane and 12:00pm AEDT Friday, 14th March 2014 ...Read more
A tip of the hat to spring fashionsOcala, March 6th
A tip of the hat to spring fashions. Store owner Lorene B. Raines makes adjustments to a hat being tried on by Annette McBride, as she checks out the spring hat collection Friday Feb. 28, at E'Lore Boutique in Ocala. Jon Singley/Ocala Star-Banner. By...Read more
Bob Katter Donates To Pharrell's Hat CollectionMusic Feeds, March 5th
Written by Greg Moskovitch on 6th March, 2014. Image for Bob Katter Donates To Pharrell's Hat Collection. Pharrell Williams recently touched down in Australia to join the lineup of the current Future Music Festival tour. Following an interview with...Read more
Hat's the way to do it! The story behind one Milngavie man's impressive hat ...Milngavie Herald, March 5th
The story behind one Milngavie man's impressive hat collection. Gordon Rutherford with his hats. by Laura Sturrock firstname.lastname@example.org. Published on the 05 March 2014 12:45. Published 05/03/2014 12:45. Print this. His first hat was his school...Read more
Dr. Seuss's hats, including the Cat's, on displayBoston Globe, March 3rd
After a public debut last year at the New York Public Library, a selection of pieces from the private hat collection of Dr. Seuss is now on view at R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton through March 9. Guests at an opening reception for “Hats Off to...Read more
New Era Introduces Birdman Endorsed Voodoo Hat CollectionThe Source, February 24th
New Era Introduces Birdman Endorsed Voodoo Hat Collection · Brandon Robinson | February 24, 2014 | 0 Comments · Birdman. With Mardi Gras just around the corner, New Era Hats has paid homage to the city of New Orleans. Inspired by all that is NOLA, ...Read more
Dr. Seuss's Private Hat Collection Is Quite A SightNew Hampshire Public Radio, February 19th
Dr. Seuss's personal hat collection is on tour for the first time in history. An exhibit called Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!, which debuted at the New York Public Library in January last year, will stop in six states over the next seven months. The exhibit...Read more
Vintage Hats print by Emma BlockRetro To Go, February 10th
Or at least as a piece of millinery. Perhaps this print will inspire a few vintage hat experiments. The A4 print is based on an original brush and ink illustration and is priced at an extremely reasonably £16. Order it from Emma Block's Etsy Store...Read more