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The History of Female Hats

Would you say hats are an accessory or a necessity? Looking back in time it becomes apparent that they have been both.

Let’s take a quick look.

The 18th Century

Pancake style ‘shepherdess’ hats were popular throughout most of the 18th century, in various brim widths. These hats were considered necessary to keep the sun away from fair complexions, especially because parasols were not a fashionable accessory during this period.

In the 1770’s (when huge wigs and hairstyles were fashionable) the ‘calash’ bonnet was worn to protect the high hairstyles from the weather. These bonnets were made of strips of wood or whalebone sewn into silk.

In the 1780s — cotton was introduced as a suitable fabric among fashion. Simple cotton house bonnets were worn among the lower society. Leaving hats for the elite society and were only associated with the upper class.

The 19th Century Bonnet

In the 1810’s straw bonnets were actually required. And inexpensive bonnet material was needed. Experiments with silk covered buckram proved successful for creating bonnets. By 1830 bonnets became hugely popular by means of necessity.

The 1920’s Cloche

Wide brimmed hats were popular in the 20’s. On a hot summer day they acted as a means of sun protection.

The 1940 Wartime Halo

The wartime 40’s saw a huge variety of hats that were suitable for all face shapes and hairstyles. Feathers were a commonly seen used in hats. They were dubbed in France as ‘piece de resistance’ or ‘resistance piece’ against Nazi occupation.

Then there was the ‘Doll’ hat  — a very small hat that sat on the very front portion of the forehead — revived by old Victorian styles.

The 60’s Hat Lady

The 60’s was all about marketing fashion towards the youth — and the youth very rarely wore hats. Soon headwear seemed like a thing of the past. Even the Catholic Church dropped its dress code, abandoning required head coverings for women in 1967. Unless you were Jackie Kennedy, hats were rarely worn.
Hats may seem like something your grandma wore, but they have been making a comeback for quite some time now. And retailers are always looking to take part —Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Free People always have the best selection in vintage styled hats.

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