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.
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Themed tea parties offer delightful day out in Dakota CitySioux City Journal, April 18th
Guests can go into Granny's closet and put on vintage hats, costume jewelry, funky glasses and feather boas before sitting down to eat. The women's lunch room is a place to relax and recharge. That resonated with Blankemeyer. After three decades of ...Read more
Downtown Randall Brown: Keep this under your hatKnoxville News Sentinel, April 16th
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Jon Hundreds Gives a Tour of His Huge Sneaker and Hat CollectionHUH., April 4th
The Hundreds blogger Rob Heppler has given us a tour of Jon Hundreds gigantic sneaker and hat collection, which first began during the New Era craze in 2004. Now boasting around 2,000 pairs of sneakers, the collection takes up entire rooms in his house ...Read more
Brad's Beat: Vintage Hat CollectionFour States Homepage, April 2nd
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Rihanna's BFF Melissa Forde Launches Bucket Hat CollectionBET, March 31st
Rihanna's BFF Melissa Forde Launches Bucket Hat Collection. The line is comprised of three styles: “Black Beauty,” “Rastaprint” and “Pink Pineapple.” By BET-Staff. Posted: 03/31/2015 02:45 PM EDT. Filed Under Fashion, Rihanna. Melissa Forde, Rihanna...Read more
Hundreds of vintage hats up for sale in AbingdonWCYB, March 27th
Hundreds of vintage hats will be on sale in Abingdon this weekend just in time for Easter and derby season. Robert Weisfeld's mother had more than 250 hats and now he wants to share those with the public. Weisfeld said his mother wore them almost every ...Read more
King Features launches limited edition Popeye hat collectionLicensing.biz, March 25th
The firm has partnered with Putnam Accessories to debut a limited edition collection of Original Chuck hats, featuring Popeye artwork. King Features Syndicate has lifted the lid on a new range of hats inspired by the iconic sailor, Popeye. The firm has ...Read more
Dr. Seuss' touring hat collection is headed to Beverly HillsLos Angeles Times, March 23rd
It includes some of the crazy lids the good doctor (who died in 1991) had amassed as part of an extensive personal hat collection. (On a side note, this reporter saw the exhibition on in New York in February 2013, and, prompted to pay homage to Dr...Read more