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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ArtWalk kicks off season with new director, 30 galleriesBillings Gazette, September 29th
Come meet the new ArtWalk president and visit with artists at 30 downtown galleries and businesses Friday during the Autumn ArtWalk. Virginia Bryant is the new ArtWalk president and she will be on hand from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Downtown Billings Alliance...Read more
Chicago tips its hat to Dr. Seuss galleryThe Columbiachronicle, September 29th
exhibit displaying Theodor Seuss Geisel's personal hat collection from Sept. 19–Oct. 12. The gallery, which displays some of Dr. Seuss' watercolors, sculptures, prints and drawings, is currently showcasing the traveling edition of a trunk of his hats...Read more
Reader's Agenda Mon 9/29: Nasty, Brutish, and Short, 'Hats Off to Dr. Seuss ...Chicago Reader, September 29th
The exhibit showcases rare work from the iconic author and illustrator as well as his own personal hat collection. Drone-metal band Earth brings their slow, distorted jams to the Empty Bottle tonight. Monica Kendrick calls their recent album Primitive...Read more
Autumn fashion , skin care and Strictly!hellomagazine.com (blog), September 29th
I'm still on a quest to better my hat collection and found this blue felt fedora in Whistles which I like but it's a bit pricey at £60 – would have to wear it ALOT ! This one which is by Cartozi and exclusive to ASOS is a more modest £35 and is black...Read more
Donations, Big and Small, Make WavesNewser, September 28th
Kids Get Drug Dealer's Custom Shoes Collection: A convicted drug dealer in El Campo, Texas, won't need his custom sneakers and hat collection in prison—so they're going to the Boys & Girls Club. The haul includes 22 pairs of a particularly high-flying ...Read more
Simone Billings' Haute Chapeau to hold vintage hat auction at XO Prime Steaks ...The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com, September 23rd
Simone Billings models one of her beautiful hats to be auctioned at XO Prime Steaks in Cleveland on Thursday Sept. 25 to raise money for Cross-Cultural Solutions to improve education for women and children in Morocco and to support her mission trip to ...Read more
hats an investment from the heartSydney Morning Herald, September 18th
By the 1980s, Waters' hat collection included Stephen Jones, Christophe Coppens and those by Issey Miyake. A few Australian milliners are also included in Waters' collection such as Gregory Ladner and Naomi Goodsir, the latter now making a name for ...Read more
'30 in 30': Women Candidates to Watch in 2014 -- Alma AdamsMSNBC, September 10th
Adams has fought for equal pay, raising the minimum wage, and is famous for her diverse hat collection. North Carolina hasn't elected a new Democratic woman to the House in over 20 years. How has being a woman in a field dominated by men impacted ...Read more